Where is she? What happened? Being a resident of Houston (Texas, USA), I do miss her as I remember almost a decade back of speaking to her on the phone several times, and my interview with her at her residence in Plano (Texas, USA).
I have since come to find out that apparently, I am the last journalist who has interviewed her or to whom she has spoken to.
It was the year of 2004, I had a regular lifestyle column in The Statesman and was conducting a feature on Bollywood stars married in the United States. I had met Madhuri Dixit-Nene in San Diego, Pooja Batra in Los Angeles, and then Meenakshi Sheshadri in Texas.
Meenakshi Sheshadri with her students during a show organised by her (now defunct) dance school called Cherish
Back in 2004, it was at the Gaylord Texas Resort & Convention Center where the AAHOA (Asian American Hotel Owners Association) Convention was being held, that I met this heroine of ‘Hero’ for the first time.
She was one of the speakers for the Women’s Forum at the convention. The room was packed with fans wanting to see this actress, then after what seemed a long time, she showed up in very casual attire (as if running errands) but her smile and demure personality was eternal.
She seemed full of depth, knowledge, and substance making it very clear that her priorities had shifted, from being a superstar, dancer, and actress to homemaker.
Her presence really intrigued me to get to know her more, so I approached her after the speech and asked if I could conduct an interview as my readers would love to know about her lifestyle in the US and what she was doing.
Meenakshi with her daughter at home
After exchanging a few words, she informed me that she had to rush to pick her daughter from school but invited me over to her house for the interview. I was very excited and visited her beautiful double-storied house in Plano, Texas, where she seemed very happy taking care of household chores along with her loving and supportive husband and two kids.
Life changed for the 80s’ and 90s’ most talked about cine star Meenakshi Sheshadri when she stepped out of her comfort zone. The sensational diva of Bollywood departed her ‘comfort zone’, India, in 1995 and married US-based investment banker Harish Mysore.
“It was not all that easy for me to settle down in the US,” as told by Meenakshi (in the 2004 interview), “belonging from a very indo-centric background, life abroad shook me.”
The journey from Mumbai’s hustle bustle and shooting sets to the isolated locales of Texas was unimaginable. The actress/dancer laughs out aloud on those bygone days when going to India was just an easy escape from reality.
“I just could not relate myself with the US environs,” said Sheshadri.
Facing the stark reality of anonymity juxtaposed to the paparazzi of filmdom, parched Mrs. Mysore to a certain extent. It was not the quest for ovation but a confrontation to try something new.
“Human beings are so used to their routine that it really takes an effort to change,” she said. “I never thought of driving and that was my biggest inhibition. I was so used to my driver and above all I was terribly scared of driving, it took me almost three years to plunge onto the freeway,” confessed Meenakshi.
However, the paradoxical lifestyle compelled her to reject the present. Nevertheless, it was during those lengthy trips to India, she realized that she had to step out of her ‘comfort zone’ and venture into the beautiful future ahead.
Meenakshi with her banker husband Harish Mysore and her children
In my conversation with Meenakshi, almost a decade back, she expressed how she enjoys taking care of her daughter Kendra and son Josh. She was also then successfully operating her own dance school. For Meenakshi, dance was always a passion, she related herself more closely as a dancer than an actress. With the burning desire to continue the art and extend this culture in a foreign land, Meenakshi, with the full support of Harish, started Cherish Dance School.
“This three-year-old dance school goes beyond teaching dance. It is an assembly of talented dancers, a voluntary body to enhance multi-culture, revealing the best talent of people of all ages,” she had informed.
However, I have tried calling the dance school several times and with the same response – “no longer in service”. I had also requested a follow up interview last year and got an email back from her associate that she was no longer doing any interviews with media.
Being level headed, Meenakshi easily gained love and affection not only from her family members, but the Indian community in Dallas nurtured her dedicated efforts. Meenakshi’s potential as an actress was tremendous, she gave the Indian film industry several super hits like ‘Hero’, ‘Damini’, ‘Ghayal’ and the list goes on. With a combination of good looks and dancing abilities the actress was never thirsty for big banners.
Meenakshi with her student at her (now defunct) dance school called Cherish
Harish’s sister played a central part in introducing the two while in India and thus started the eternal love story. From being the heartthrob of millions to becoming the mommy next door, Meenakshi was one of the actresses who I really enjoyed interviewing.
She kept in touch with me, we spoke several times till around 2006, she came across as a good friend who cherishes every moment of her life. Meenakshi accumulated success in terms of quality and not quantity. Her priorities during our last interview became very clear – “Family is everything for me,” she had told me.
Today all I have are many beautiful memories of her, my interview sessions, long telephone chats, exchanging stories with her and the few pictures that she shared with me.
Unfortunately, I have not been able to get in contact with her school or the actress herself and nobody seems to have any information. I hope she and her family are well and I hope you join me in wishing Meenakshi all the best!
Update from Soumyadipta Banerjee:
Don’t try looking for Meenakshi Sheshadri in Texas anymore. She has since shifted to Washington DC with her husband and son. Her daughter is studying elsewhere in the US. Still very reclusive, she hasn’t restarted her dance school in Washington.
A follower of this blog also confirmed on Twitter that she has shifted to Washington. Here’s the tweet.
If you are wondering how she looks now, here’s her current photograph. The photo was also mailed to me by a follower. The photo was clicked when she was on a trip to India. Thank you so much for the photo, dear Gee.
The photos were taken a decade back when the author interviewed her. That was the last time Meenakshi Sheshadri spoke to the press. She never appeared in an interview again. Reports say that she still stays at her address in Plano, Texas, USA but has closed down her dance school.
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