- Rekha was the original choice for Himmatwala
- "But I guess Sridevi was destined to do the film," Jeetendra said
- "With it, Bollywood woke up to the magic of Sridevi," he added
Himmatwala, directed by K Raghavendra Rao, proved to be a turning point in both Sridevi and Jeetendra careers. Sridevi had made her debut as a heroine in Bollywood with Solva Sawan (1979) but it was Himmatwala, which made her a star. It was a remake of Telugu film Ooruki Monagadu, starring Krishna and Jaya Prada. Songs like Nainon Mein Sapna and Taki O Taki were instant hits.
"I first met Sridevi at the 100th day jubilee function of one of her Tamil films. I walked up to this bright-eyed girl and congratulated her on her performance. Little did I know that we would be working together in a few months' time. I was going through a low phase after Deedar-E-Yaar (1982) - the film suffered heavy losses, and brought me back to square one as an actor and producer. Sridevi, too, was coming out of Solva Saawan (1979), her debut film as a full-fledged heroine in Bollywood. The film didn't fare well and almost put her out of the Hindi film industry. So Himmatwala, directed by K Raghavendra Rao, was a turning point for both of us," Jeetendra told mid-day.
After the successful pairing in Himmatwala, Sridevi and Jeetendra co-starred together in 15 other films, including Tohfa, Majaal, Aag Aur Shola and Ghar Sansaar. "Sridevi was one of my closest co-stars and we did 15 movies together. She was an actor par excellence. What was even more admirable about her was her dedication to the craft - she would keep rehearsing a scene until she was fully satisfied with it. I had deep admiration for her discipline towards her work," Jeetendra told mid-day.
"I remember I used to be nervous whenever I would have to dance with Sridevi. She was a fabulous dancer who would get the steps perfectly, right at the first attempt while I had to keep doing rehearsals to match up to her. I have so many beautiful memories of Sridevi. It's still so difficult for me to come to terms with the fact that the woman, who ruled over everyone's hearts with her shy smile and bright eyes, is no more," he added.
Jeetendra's son Tusshar Kapoor condoled the death of Sridevi and shared a still from Himmatwala. "Ironically, today is also the 35th anniversary of #Himmatwala! Mam u will be missed! Huge loss for the audiences that welcomed her back to films!" he wrote.
This is the worst news ever, hoping it's just a bad dream! The greatest Indian actress ever, someone whose movies I grew up on is no more! RIP Srideviji! God has been really unfair, Sridevi's aura & magic ruled the silver screen across languages & has survived the ravages of time! Speechless!! Ironically, today is also the 35th anniversary of #Himmatwala! Mam u will be missed! Huge loss for the audiences that welcomed her back to films!
His daughter Ekta Kapoor also remembered the megastar.
Himmatwala was later remade by Sajid Khan in 2013, starring Ajay Devgn and Tamannaah. Sridevi died in Dubai. She was also the star of blockbusters like Sadma, Lamhe, Nagina, Mr India, Chaal Baaz and Chandni. Her body will be flown to Mumbai on a private jet and the last rites are expected to be performed tomorrow.
Sridevi is survived by husband Boney Kapoor and daughters Janhvi and Khushi.