She has played mother to the likes of Shah Rukh Khan, Kajol and Akshay Kumar in Hindi films, but veteran actress Farida Jalal has now returned to the small screen with Balika Vadhu. She says a lack of good roles for women her age in Bollywood led her to turn to television.
"Female character actors of my age are mostly slotted in the same type of role without much variation. I wanted to do all kinds of roles. That is why whenever TV producers offer me variety, I take it up," Farida told IANS over phone from Mumbai.
"I have done the crème of films. But still I feel that writers don't do justice as far as a mother's role in a film is concerned. My male counterparts have so much to do but not me," she said.
The actress nevertheless maintains that films will remain her "first love".
"In films, we usually have the same type of roles which we keep doing and television gives more scope to character actors like me. But still celluloid is my first love and will always be," she said.
Farida, 60, started her career as a child artiste with the 1960 hit Chaudhvin Ka Chand and later featured in Raj Kapoor's Bobby. Although the seasoned actress played second fiddle to top heroines in most of her films, she was paired with Rajesh Khanna in Aradhana.
In the last several years, she featured in character roles in movies like Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge, Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham, Kaho Naa... Pyaar Hai, Dil To Pagal Hai and Raja Hindustani, among others.
The actress started her small screen stint with Dekh Bhai Dekh and was later seen in Shararat as well.
Talking about Balika Vadhu, she said: "I decided to take up the soap because it's the best show according to me. Before entering I too used to watch it myself and was an ardent follower of it."
She plays Surekha Sikri's elder sister in the serial that focuses on the evils of child marriage.
"I'm returning to television after a long break and this role offers me the perfect platform for my comeback. The role of 'Badi Jiji' (elder sister) is a completely new experience for me as it is quite different from all the roles I have enacted till date. The role is challenging and instrumental to the storyline," Farida said.
"It is great working with the team of the show. I have known Surekhaji (who plays the grandmother) from before. We had done Shyam Benegal's film 'Mammo' together. I have great respect for her and I admire her greatly. All the actors suit their characters completely," she added.
"At the moment my role is a cameo, which will go on for the next two-three months. Developing the character further or increasing the length of the role to suit the show is the channel's prerogative," Farida said.
Known for her subtle and endearing portrayals, Farida feels that television shows were much better earlier as far as content goes.
"The time when I had entered television was far better than now. It was a better period for television in terms of content. The shows were different and had substance. Today there are a few shows like that but not the majority," the actress said.
She added: "Today, in most serials there are so many characters just standing in one line. I don't want to do a role like that where there is not much for me to do. I don't want to be a part of that line."
Asked about future projects, Farida said that working on a daily soap leaves hardly any time to do anything else.