25 years of Judaai: Actors recall working with late Sridevi

Late filmmaker Raj Kanwar’s Judaai (1997) presented two contrasting personalities and views about life — one driven by materialism and the other choosing minimalism, through the lens of love and marriage. Over two decades later, the film continues to have a special place in everyone’s hearts.

Actors Anil Kapoor, Urmila Matondkar and late Sridevi drove the narrative of the twisted tale where a wife agrees to get her husband married to another girl for money. But it had many other characters who still remain etched in the minds of cinegoers.

As the film, which was Sridevi’s last film before she took a hiatus from cinema and returned with English Vinglish in 2012, completes 25 years, we talk to some actors about its legacy:

Judaai still featuring Upasana Singh
Judaai still featuring Upasana Singh

Upasana Singh, seen in double role of Seema Bhagat and Vaani Bhagat Jain

I said yes to the film without even reading the script as I was a huge fan of Sridevi. I grew up admiring Sridevi, and it was a big moment for me to work with her. I played the roles of a mother and mute woman, who just says ‘abba dabba jabba’. I was not convinced about it, but went with the director’s conviction. I put all my effort into expressing those words with different variations and moods. And it clicked! It made me the ‘abba dabba jabba’ girl. People still remember me for that dialogue and request me to say it. I feel blessed about it. Now, I am making a film titled, Abba Dabba Jabba. I have registered the title, and we are working on the script.

The comedy will also star Johnny Lever and my son, Nanak. Our characters were part of this huge story, and it is my effort to carry on their legacy, but there won’t be any other characters from the film. The film will take some time to shape up, but will be made for sure.

Paresh Rawal in the film
Paresh Rawal in the film

Paresh Rawal, seen as Hasmukhlal Singh Bhagat

I played a role who had questions to any and everything, and said a lot through these questions. And that unique trait of him made him an audience favourite, and someone who they remember till date. I have so many precious memories associated with the film, working with late Sridevi, Anil Kapoor and Boney Kapoor. Bahut mazza aaya tha. When something touches hearts, it becomes iconic, and that is what happened with the film. Yeh film aaj bhi logun ke dil aur dimag mein hai. And that is why people remember all the actors associated with it. Even after so many years, they can recall the idiosyncrasy of the character. It says a lot about the character’s strength and uniqueness, which is special for an actor as well.

Judaai still featuring Omkar Kapoor
Judaai still featuring Omkar Kapoor

Omkar Kapoor, seen as Romi Verma

I was a kid when I worked with Sridevi, Anil Kapoor and everyone on the film. It was a fantastic experience. It is a film to be cherished always. It was a super success at that time, and I have fond memories associated with it. In fact, I learnt a lot from all the senior actors on the film. All the great films are remembered for a very long time, and Judaai is one of them. That’s what the magic of cinema is. In fact, I would not like to see a remake of such an iconic film. I feel great films shouldn’t be remade.

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