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Today Sridevi and Boney Kapoor might be one of the foremost power couples of Bollywood but their love story was ridden with obstacles. He was a married man while she was nursing a broken heart after a failed relationship with Mithun Chakraborty. They did get married in 1996 but it was certainly not an easy journey.
Many people believe that Boney Kapoor met Sridevi during the making of Mr India 27 years ago. However the real story is that Boney had been attracted to Sridevi for a long time. In an interview Boney admitted, “I fell in love with Sri after watching her Tamil film during the late 1970s. I even flew to Chennai to meet her but she was shooting in Singapore. A few months later, I watched Sri’s debut Hindi film Solva Sawan (1979) and realised I wanted her to work with me. One day I went to meet her on the sets of a movie. But Sri was an introvert and wouldn’t talk to strangers. She talked to me in half-broken English and Hindi and just said that her mother took care of her projects.”
That’s when Boney decided to woo his future mother-in-law. He met Sri’s mum and offered to sign her daughter for Mr India but the lady shocked him by asking for Rs 10 lakh (approx. Dhs61,000) if he wanted Sri in the film. But Boney wasn’t daunted. “When she asked for Rs10 lakh (approx. Dhs61,000), I offered her Rs.11lakh (approx.Dh67000) because I wanted to be close to Sri. Her mother was impressed.”
The large-hearted producer then went about ensuring that his heroine got the best possible treatment. “There were no vanity vans at that time but I arranged for a separate make-up room for her. Gradually, she felt comfortable with me,” he said.
BONEY’S ATTRACTION TO SRI was no secret but it took a long while for them to get closer. While in the late ‘70s, Sridevi was allegedly deeply involved with Mithun Chakraborty, Boney, in 1984 decided to go in for an arranged marriage with Mona Kapoor keeping his infatuation for Sridevi at bay. Incidentally, Boney and Mithun were good friends before Sridevi came into picture. But when Sri and Boney became close, there were rumours galore Mithun became very insecure. So much so that the Bengali actor actually made Sridevi tie a rakhi to Boney!
There were even reports that she had secretly married Mithun. All she had wanted from him was a commitment but Mithun was not willing to divorce his wife Yogeeta Bali. In fact, he even failed to acknowledge their relationship later and denied any such secret marriage.
Meanwhile, her friendship with Boney was getting stronger by the day. There were stories of how Sridevi once took a break and flew to Los Angeles to spend some ‘alone’ time. The only people she was in touch with were her sister and Boney. By this time Boney was so madly in love with her that when Sridevi was filming YRF’s Chandni in Switzerland, he allegedly flew there “especially to see her and be close to her.”
Sridevi was still wary of committing to Boney but one episode changed her perception forever. Her mother fell seriously ill and Sri went to the US for her treatment. Here she found herself all alone and it was Boney who came to support her emotionally, financially and mentally. There was a time when Sri’s mother had to clear a lot of debts and even before becoming a son-in-law, Boney paid them off. These incidents made Sri realise how much he cared for her.
MEANWHILE, THE SCENE AT Boney’s household was devastating. Mona was a very strong woman but when she realised that her 13-year-marriage was coming apart, she was shattered. She said, “My marriage was over. Respect, for me, is foremost. Love follows that. As we evolve, we sometimes need change. Boney too needed somebody else, not me. There was nothing left in the relationship to give it a chance because Sridevi was already with a child. That itself was a big statement for me to opt out,” she said. This was shocking news for the media – Sridevi was already pregnant!
Left in the cold with her two kids, Arjun and Anshula, Mona poured her heart out. “It was also a tough time for Arjun and Anshula who were both in school. The world is a cruel place. When you are going through bad times, they speculate about you and discuss you in their living rooms. So, in school, my children had to face torment from their classmates. But they became strong and learnt to face facts. What held us together was the thread of pain.”
Interestingly, Mona had the full support of her family and her in-laws; she continued staying with Surinder Kapoor’s house while Boney moved out. Mona said, “My family, including my father, my mother and sister was the greatest support. The humiliation was painful because I was pitted against a heroine. I was made to feel lesser than her. The industry wives gave me suggestions like, ‘Why don’t you lose weight?’ or ‘Why don’t you join a gym?’ All this made me realise that I had to get up, dust myself and start walking all over again. Also the advice that my friend Meena’s mother gave me became the gospel truth for me. She said, ‘If somebody has no place for you in their lives, then you can have no place for them in yours.’ I understood that I had not failed – my relationship had!”
THE FOLLOWING YEARS WERE turbulent. It was not easy for either Mona and her kids or Sridevi to get used to the big change of events in their lives. But slowly and steadily it happened. Sridevi, who lost her father while shooting for Lamhe, married Boney in 1996. Meanwhile the gracious Mona let her children remain cordial to their dad and step-mom. Mona says, “My children live with me but are close to their father too. I have no animosity or hatred for the man. It would be cruel if I kept the children away from him. I want him to be happy. After all, I gave up my place so that he could be happy.”
Mona’s pillar of support was her sister Archana Shourie. Together they produced TV shows and later, they took it as a challenge to make a movie set which had upmarket amenities for artistes. Time perhaps healed the wounds of everyone in this sordid drama. Sridevi gradually retreated from the film scene and concentrated on her family with Boney while Mona was devoted to bringing up her kids. She lost her life to cancer last year.