How did you land your debut film, ‘Love Story’?
My sister Sulakshana was an actress and, on the weekends, I would go to be with her on shoots and even film trials. It was at the trial of her film ‘Garam Khoon’, held at Dimple theatre, when Rajendra Kumar saw and enquired about me. Later, he came home and told my sister that he wanted to sign me as heroine in his debut film as a producer. My sister told him that I was just in 8th standard and that she will have to ask my parents. My parents told my sister that I should complete my studies first, but I told my parents that I wanted to act and promised to pursue my studies side by side.
Initially, I had refused a screen test for the film. Rajendra Kumar wanted my screen test just to know how will I look and act in front of the camera. He had also made Bunty (Kumar Gaurav) appear for a screen test. But I was adamant about not doing one and denied his request. Later, Bunty told me that Rajendra Kumar had called Raj Kapoor saab and told him that the girl is adamant and does not want to do a screen test. Raj saab then advised him to start the film and ask the actors of the film to do a crash course in acting with Roshan Taneja. Both Bunty and I did a three-month crash course before the film went on floors.
Did Sulakshana offer words of advice before you made your debut?
During the weekends, when I used to accompany her, I had the privilege of seeing actors like Rishi Kapoor, Jeetendra, Vinod Khanna, and Rajesh Khanna perform at the shooting locations. This itself was a great learning experience for me. Of course, my sister told me to work hard and focus on my craft.
Tell us a bit about your interaction with Kumar Gaurav…
He was very nice to me and we hit it off on the first day of the shoot. We both were new and ‘Love Story’ was a learning process for both of us. Honestly, the film was more of Bunty and my story.
But you were romantically linked with Kumar Gaurav…
See, I have grown-up children now. Bygones are bygones and I really don’t want to speak about it.
Why did you not sign any film after ‘Love Story’?
That was the biggest regret of my life and the reason I did not sign films, was very personal. I feel that had I continued to work, I would have earned more name, fame, and wealth. In fact, most of the films that were offered to me had Kumar Gaurav opposite me.
How different it is today in terms of working, vis-a-vis during your days as an actor?
I really don’t know much about how the industry works today. But I can tell you that I am going to make a comeback and you will soon hear the announcement.
How did you cope up with your husband Aadesh Shrivastava’s demise?
I became very lonely and depressed after he passed away, and also faced financial crisis, but did not ask for help from anyone. My husband, too, had never asked for financial help, even when he was sick. Aadesh was a very loving and caring husband and treated me like a princess. He gave me all the comforts of life. Our marriage even proved lucky for us–Aadesh became the number one music composer after we got married. Unfortunately, he fell ill and all the money that he had earned was spent on his treatment. Aadesh even sold his expensive car for Rs 1 crore so that we could travel to London, USA, and Canada for his treatment. Later, even I had to sell the car that Aadesh had gifted me on my birthday. My husband never asked anyone for money and as his wife, I will keep that respect. Luckily for me, I started getting royalty money from all of Aadesh’s music work so was able to manage my house.
Your elder son Avitesh Srivastava has recently done two music albums for Tiger Shroff…
I am extremely proud of my son, Avitesh, who is only 23 but has taken the responsibility for the family. He has recently written and composed two songs for Tiger Shroff sung in his own voice. Both the albums, ‘Casanova’ and ‘Unbelievable’ have been loved by people. My younger son is studying medicine.
How is Sulakshana doing now?
She is fine and is living with me. I have a maid to take care of her and the menu of our house is decided by what Sulakshanaji wants to eat. She watches her own films on TV and on her iPad. And as far as the rumours are concerned that claim that she is ‘mental’, I want to tell people fanning such rumours, that it’s actually them who need to get their head examined.