Actress Sarika plays the mother of an eight-year-old boy in the troubled Kashmir Valley in her forthcoming film Tahaan and she says that it highlights how conflicts impact children's minds and their lives.
Directed by Santosh Sivan, the movie is set in Kashmir and narrates the story of the young boy Tahaan and his quest across the mountains to find his donkey friend Birbal.
"It is a very simple script like Santosh Sivan's earlier works Malli and Halo. It's a very happy film but at the same time it is very scary because it is a reality that whatever conflicts happen in life it affects children. You only realise it later. We are also addressing an issue with the film," Sarika told IANS in an interview.
Talking about her role in Tahaan, she said: "My role is that of a half-widow who is waiting for her husband to come back. She is sad, but she doesn't show. She has a child who goes to school and he has a donkey. The story is actually about the little boy and his (donkey) friend Birbal.
Contrary to the current unrest in Jammu and Kashmir that was sparked by the allotment and subsequent revocation of 40 hectares of land to the Amarnath shrine board, Sarika revealed that they didn't face any troubles while shooting in the valley.
"We were a very small unit of around 20 members and the people there are very cooperative. The womenfolk in Kashmir are amazing," said Sarika, who was here to promote the film that releases Friday.
The actress made her comeback to films in 2006 with an issue-related film called Sacred Evil. She was then seen in Parzania based on the Gujarat riots of 2002 that won her a National Award for Best Actress.
"I kept away from the arc lights because I didn't feel like doing films," said the actress who has also featured in films like Manorama Six Feet Under and Bheja Fry.
Asked if she had a special inclination towards issue-based films, Sarika said: "I don't get attracted to subjects that are issue-based. My career is not going to be issue-based. It is the script that attracts me.
"It has to be an intelligent script and if the script works, a film works and when a film works, the actors work. After all I also have a duty towards the audience to inform them."
During her sabbatical from the big screen, Sarika was involved in costume and sound designing for films. She bagged the National Film Award for Best Costume Design for her ex-husband's historical film Hey Ram in 2000.
The actress, however, says going back to designing is a complete no-no.
"I had designed costumes for 37 films, but now there's no way I'm doing it as you have to meet a lot of individual demands. I've also done some sound designing for a few films and if ever I do anything in designing again, I might do some sound work apart from films if I feel like but no costume designing," she said.
Sarika will next be seen in Hari Puttar, Kacha Limbu and Shoebite and she admits that she likes working with children.
"I love working with kids. But the kids must be disciplined. In fact, I am playing the role of a mother in three films."
Sarika also thinks that it is high time that children are given their due share of recognition in films.
"I think that by virtue of age we do not recognise children as co-stars but as child actors. A co-star is always a co-star no matter what the age," she asserted.
Sarika's daughter Shruti Haasan is making her acting debut opposite R. Madhavan in Nishikant Kamat's yet-to-be-titled film, but Sarika refused to talk about it.
"Ask me only about my films and co-stars. I'm here to promote my film Tahaan," she said.