In her latest and currently running film, English Vinglish, actor Sulabha Deshpande plays a loving grandmother, and more importantly, and empathetic mother-in-law to actor Sridevi. On her act in Sridevi’s much touted comeback film, Sulabha smiles, “In this age, I will have to be content with doing roles of nani and dadi.”
Bestowed with much appreciation for her role, Sulabha, who is in Chandigarh at the invitation of Fortis Hospital to participate in a seminar on Word Arthritis Day (observed on October 12), talks about staying busy doing theatre and being positive, for her knees too had been operated upon in 2003 at Fortis Hospital, SAS Nagar.
Interestingly, Sulabha worked as a special executive magistrate in Mahim, Maharashtra, until theatre beckoned her and she dived into it. Passionate about children’s theatre, she has visited various countries including the US, Japan, Sweden and Australia to study children’s theatre. “The theatre of our dreams has also to be one for the common man with a focus on his aspirations, constraints and problems. The elitist theatre is more urban, catering to the aesthetic ideals and values of the classes and not the masses, especially children,” she opines.
The 75-year-old is a veteran actor having done almost 122 Hindi and Marathi films. Credited with six state awards in acting, she is also the recipient of the Sangeet Natak Akademy Award in 1987.
Established in humility and simplicity, Sulabha says about TV and film productions, “Film or TV serial productions are governed by various considerations including commercial interests, present-day taste of the people conditioned by the social environment in the region and more.”
Sulabha’s family is also deeply vested in film art, she tells us. “Since my father, Vasant Rao Kamerkar, was an acclaimed recording professional with HMV, many music composers, singers and actors visited us in our house, that was earlier owned by yesteryears’ actress Nirupa Roy, and where we still live. My husband had made National Award winning film, Shapit, in which my architect son Ninad acted. His wife, Aditi Deshpande repeated the fete
for the family by winning a National Award for her film, Not Only Mrs Raut (2003).”
Now, Sulabha remains busy promoting theatre. She says, “Especially among children, through my organisation, Chandrashala, which is a part of the main institution, Avishkar, wherein we conduct study and research on performing arts.”
On being asked for her advice to youngsters hankering for glamour in films and TV, she says it is their parents who need to be sermonised and not the youth.