Director Gauri Shinde didn’t have to look far from home to create Sridevi’s timeless character, Shashi Godbole. English Vinglish. The iconic Sridevi film completes 11 years today.
In an interview with this author during its release English Vinglish Gauri confessed, “I have seen it happen in my house. My mother was inspired by this story. She is a housewife and an entrepreneur – she has a very successful spice business – and she felt that if she knew the English language, there are so many other things she could do in life. There was no reason for her to feel inferior because of her poor command of the English language. But we were also responsible. We made fun of her. We tend to be insensitive in our daily relationships with family and even colleagues. It’s not just limited to women. To me, the struggle of a wife and mother to achieve a linguistic dignity in a society governed by colonial norms of verbal communication seemed important.’
Gauri admitted that she was influenced by everything she had absorbed in film and life during her growing up years. “I loved that era in the 1980s of Shabana Azmi and Smita Patil. So many great progressive scripts were written. Somewhere, I think our cinema has lost that search for identity that made movies like Art and Bumika so unforgettable. Of course, good movies are still being made today. But not enough,” he said.
About Sridevi, Gauri confessed that she is a complete fan. “It didn’t matter what movie it was in. She always made the character her own. I am totally addicted to Sridevi. How am I going to work with any other actress now? I am completely spoiled in my first film by her caliber as a person and as an actor. How will I get all this in my future films? I want to work with her for the rest of my life.”
Gauri spoke in the same interview in 2014 about Sridevi’s deep commitment to her role when they were shooting for months in the US. “Of course, he would call home on breaks, but once he got back, he was fully there. Don’t forget, women make great multi-taskers. She was too committed to her character to cheat on him. When he was on camera, he was totally there. She was an accomplished actress director. And he made it all look easy on camera. Only a great artiste can bring that level of fluency to her performance,” Gauri said.
Read also: Boney Kapoor sets the record straight. reveals Janhvi Kapoor was born after marrying Sridevi
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