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Sujata Kumar death: Watch her powerful TEDx Talk on cancer, divorce and emotional abuse

Sujata Kumar, who played the elder sister of actor Sridevi in English Vinglish, died in Mumbai on Sunday, after a long battle against cancer.

bollywood Updated: Aug 20, 2018 16:15 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
Sujata Kumar dead,Sujata Kumar death,Sujata Kumar
Sujata Kumar, known for her performance in English Vinglish, died on Saturday.

Actor Sujata Kumar passed away on Sunday after battling cancer for a long time. The actor was the elder sister of actor and singer Suchitra Krishnamoorthi and was best remembered for her role in English Vinglish as Sridevi’s elder sister. Sujata was a cancer survivor but suffered a relapse. With fourth stage cancer that had metastised, the actor suffered multiple organ failure.

A day after Sujata Kumar’s death, the video of a TEDx Talk she delivered in May has resurfaced. Called ‘How to filter emotional pollutants from your life’, the TEDxBocconiUMumbai talk delivered by Sujata is a powerful message and a study of the human mind.

Sujata talks about how human beings acquire “emotional pollutants” soon after they are born. Illustrating the talk with her own life’s journey, Sujata makes a powerful appeal to throw out the “muck” within. The actor begins by saying that a baby at birth is a marvel of nature and how as we keep growing up, we keep accumulating ‘muck’ within.

Watch Sujata Kumar’s speech here:

She talks of her dysfunctional upbringing and holds herself largely responsible for her life’s struggles as she was emotionally unavailable to herself. Sujata speaks about growing up in a family that believed in authoritarian parenting -- spare the rod and spoil the child. She goes on to say how schooling and teachers actually contribute to this ‘muck’ building up within.

At 20, she reveals that she had a solid legal case of child abuse and domestic violence but she chose not to file. The welfare of other younger siblings was at stake and how her equation with her parents was muddled up but they were not her enemies.

Sujata Kumar with her sister Suchitra Krishnamoorthi.

She goes on add how before reaching 30, she gave birth to a dead baby after a full term, post-mature overdue pregnancy and five days of intensive and exhaustive labour. She added how she still felt the anguish of that loss.

At 40, she was into therapy as her “magnet” had attracted “emotionally unavailable relationships”.

She then speaks about the time when she owned a gaming firm called Boffin, which, by definition, means an ultimate authority on any subject and adds that she was good at what she did. While she was enjoying professional success she grew to be 100 kgs in weight. Her subsequent divorce proceedings further complicated matters as it raked up age-old pains. She was afflicted by “self pity, righteous wrath and hopelessness pouring out of every orifice”.

The entire process took a long time while she was working multiple shifts, night and day. It meant lousy food habits, erratic sleep cycles, smoking like a chimney, binge drinking, nutritional deficiencies coupled with an all-consuming sense of “guilt and resentment”.

Sujata says in the talk that her ego took a severe battering. She couldn’t even keep a family together and how her breaking point came when she was diagnosed with cancer in August 2006, “nature’s slap on the face”. It was then that Sujata said she decided to respond to challenges and that’s when she decided to “take responsibilities for emotional wellness, welfare and well being”.

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First Published: Aug 20, 2018 16:05 IST