|Surekha Sikri in a different costume other than 'daadisa'! (courtesy)|
I watched this programme, 'Guftagu' last Saturday in Rajya Sabha. It is very good. Felt like watching Door Darshan programme, without the loudly dressed up anchors shouting or 'I know all' type of interviewers, never allowing the guest to 'think' and express themselves. Syed Mohammad Irfan, the interviewer here, is the best person for this type of programme, I feel. He was looking at Surekha Sikri, the actor about whom I am writing here, with lot of respect and admiration. He was prompting her whenever needed. Otherwise, he was just listening intently. Along with Surekha, I admired him too, here!
When did I first notice her? Maybe in Tamas, a Govind Nihalani television film/serial. It came in Door darshan in the 80's as one hour series for four hours. I still remember, the plot was so strong that my husband didn't even wanted to hear the background music and closed the door of his room when I was watching it. A memorable film for me. I noticed Surekha Sikri then. And next, in one Rajasthani based story where she lives in a desert with her husband and loots the travellers who come to stay in their house as guests. She kills her own son who came there as a traveller, without knowing that he was their son. I can never forget her character in that movie. Anyone remember the name of the movie? Then I noticed her in 'Mammo', a Shyam Benegal movie, where she acted very well along with another of my favourite actor Farida Jalal. She has acted in many other movies but I remember the above mentioned movies vividly.
Now, she is acting in a famous television serial, 'Balika Vadhu' which is running for the past 7 years, I think. I and my husband had been watching it from day one! No, we are not couch potatoes watching many serials. We watch only one or two serials at a time. Now, it is Balika Vadhu and Ashoka. And some musical reality shows.
This serial, Balika Vadhu, has got small small incidents and all of them give a positive message to our society, from child marriage to adult education. Surekha is the strength/pillar of the serial. She learnt Rajasthani language just to act in this serial. Very strong minded character. Her character changes from a strong minded, old fashioned woman to a modern, a 'full of love' woman here. Have a look here .
She is from Uttar Pradesh. Father was in the Air Force and mother was a teacher. Studied in Aligarh and later became an NSD (National School of Drama) graduate. Acted in theatres with NSD Repertory company for around 15 years and then shifted to Mumbai. Then her movie and television career started. She loves Hindustani music, can sing quite well and a bookworm too!! You can hear her giving more details of her life here:
'Mujhe stage pe khada hona nahin aathaa thaa'...she says here...now, she is the pinnacle of acting! She can act in any type of role now, whether it is a good lady or a bad, cunning lady! Everything comes natural for her. She gives her 100% to the role, body language, expression in dialogue, everything.
In another interview here, she says "The process of acting is a continuous learning experience. What I could do five years earlier, I can do better now. My growth as an actor reflects in my work. I have tried to give the character many shades; she is not a cardboard character. She proves that it is not necessary for a negative person to remain that way forever. That if she examines herself, does some soul-searching; she too can overcome her rigid mindset. Her character (as Daadisa in Balika Vadhu) proves that it is possible to change.”
She married Hemant Rege after a long courtship during 'Tamas' days. Happily married couple they were. He expired in 2009. Her only son is an artist and lives in Bombay.
She has done films like Sardari Begum, Deham (malayalam), Sarfarosh, Zubeida, Raincoat, and Little Buddha and won the National Film Award for Best Supporting Actress twice – for Tamas in 1988 and Mammo in 1995. She has also won the Sangeet Nataak Akaademi Award in 1989 and the ASSOCHAM Ladies League’s Mumbai Women of the Decade Achievers Award, earlier this year.
Our whole family had been admiring her for the past many years. I am so happy to write about her today. These types of women influence us and it might reflect in some way in our life. She is in my 'People whom I admire' list now!