When Anupam Kher Became Sridevi’s Sister For an April Fools’ Prank

Sridevi was the only one who knew about the joke apart from the magazine’s core team.

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Anupam Kher and Sridevi in <i>Lamhe </i>(L); Sridevi’s “sister” Prabhadevi.

“EXPLOSIVE: Prabhadevi’s Shattering Confession, “Yes I Am Sridevi’s Unknown Sister” screamed the headline on an old issue of Cine Blitz. A dolled-up lady on the cover with pouty lips declared that she was actor Sridevi’s long-lost sister, Prabhadevi. The issue probably sold out because of that sensational piece of news - Woah! Sridevi has another sister no one knew of?

This was probably one of the most elaborate April Fool pranks played by a film glossy in the 90s. Cine Blitz got actor Anupam Kher all done up by ace make-up artiste and stylist Mickey Contractor and a cover picture shot by Bollywood’s most popular lensman of the time - Gautam Rajadhyaksha. Nobody could guess that the result of it was actually Anupam Kher on the cover acting as Sridevi’s sister.

The “explosive” <i>Cine Blitz </i>cover.
The “explosive” Cine Blitz cover.

The magazine got Sridevi to react to the prank after the issue hit the stands.

Cine Blitz: What were your reactions when Anupam told you what he was going to do?

Sridevi: It wasn't like that. Anupamji didn't tell me what exactly he was going to do. One day, while we were shooting he told me, 'Ma'am main aap ko ek surprise dene wala hoon' [Ma'm I'm going to give you a huge surprise]. The whole day he kept telling me the same thing. So I asked him what the surprise was. And all he said was, 'Nahin, I don't want to tell you, magar aap bahut hassenge' [but you'll laugh a lot!]. ...The whole day Anupamji kept building up the suspense. I had absolutely no idea what he was going to do. I could not even imagine what the surprise was.

Cine Blitz: When did you discover Anupam's surprise?

Sridevi: After the shooting schedule in Bombay, I left for Madras. One day, after I finished my dubbing, I returned home and I met my sister and brother-in-law. They were very upset. They came to me saying, 'See what this Cine Blitz has done. They have said that we have got another sister hiding somewhere. It is so wrong!

Cine Blitz: Did you laugh?

Sridevi: Ya. I found it really very funny. It was a really good April Fool joke for everybody. Especially when she said that she knew all the Hollywood actors. That was really funny and very cute in a way.

Cine Blitz: Did you like the way Anupam was done up?

Sridevi: Anupamji's make-up was really mind blowing. How nicely it was done. The credit for it goes to Gautam and Mickey. Of course the credit also goes to Anupamji. The way he has given his expressions was really great!

Anupam Kher as Sridevi’s sister Prabhadevi.
Anupam Kher as Sridevi’s sister Prabhadevi.

Gatuam Rajadhyaksha’s Take On the Prank

Gautam Rajadhyaksha in his book Faces reminisces about secretly transforming Anupam Kher into Prabhadevi. Besides the core group, only Sridevi knew about the April Fools’ Day prank:

“During a hilarious, if gruelling two-hour make-up session, the bald, round-faced gent was ‘morphed’ jowls and all, by Mickey, into the sultry, dreamy-eyed beauty called Prabhadevi. A great complexion, a near perfect nose and a mouth made for seduction, I’m sure Anupam himself had no idea of his hidden potential!” writes Rajadhyaksha in his book.

Even Jaya Bachchan Fell For It!

Rajadhyaksha recounts how almost everyone in the industry believed the story and some producers were even keen to sign Prabhadevi on for their films! Here’s an excerpt where he describes how Jaya Bachchan fell for the scandalous story.

“I was shooting with Amitabh (who had been told the night before by a suddenly stricken Anupam!) the day of the issue’s release. Jaya, having read the story, tossed the magazine aside with disdain. “Such cheap sensationalism. I admit she does look a bit like Sridevi, but…” I will never forget Jaya’s face when Amit, who couldn’t contain himself any longer, blurted out the truth. Disbelief, giving way to incredulity, shock, amazement, till at last she dissolved into peals of laughter. Sometimes, even now, remembering Jay’s gasps and giggles, I laugh out loud.”
Gautam Rajadhyaksha in Faces

In 2013, Anupam Kher recalled this special Cine Blitz issue and called it the best April Fool prank ever.

(With inputs from asridevi.blogspot.in)

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