Remembering Surekha Sikri, National Award-winning actor loved across film, theatre and television

Veteran Actress Surekha Sikri died at the age of 75 on July 16.
Surekha Sikri won three National Awards in her career.(File Photo)
Surekha Sikri won three National Awards in her career.(File Photo)
Published on Jul 17, 2021 10:32 AM IST
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ByLife Beyond Numbers

Veteran Actress Surekha Sikri has left for her heavenly abode due to cardiac arrest at the age of 75 on July 16. Surekha gained popularity in the twilight of her career as Dadi Sa in Colors TV Serial Balika Vadhu. She has had a strong presence in the film, theatre, and television before and after the stint and is an award-winning actress with 3 National Awards to her name.

Several stars from Bollywood and Indian Television Industry poured their condolences on her demise.

Sikri was a pass out from the National School of Drama, New Delhi. She made her debut in Bollywood with Amrit Nahta’s Kissa Kursi Ka in 1978, which was banned during the Emergency in India.

“I was pretty green regarding film work. I recall when I saw the film eventually that they hadn’t kept track of continuity – scenes would start in one place and end in another,” Surekha Ji told Scroll adding that she was still with NSD’s repertory company when she was offered the role and that most of the film was shot in New Delhi.

She continued working in theatre and films and created a strong mark with her performance in Tamas in 1986. This won her very first National Award for Best Supporting Role. She played the role of Rajjo in the mini-series that was set against the backdrop of India’s partition. This was followed by her 1994 Shyam Benegal movie Mammo in which starred alongside Farida Jalal and Rajit Kapoor, bagging a second National Award.

After a few more supporting roles, she stepped into Television with the family comedy show Just Mohabbat where she played a school principal. But her works in films were equally shining in Zubeidaa, Mr and Mrs Iyer, and Humko Deewana Kar Gaye among other projects.

Yet it was her role as the grandmother in Balika Vadhu that is remembered and became a part of her identity. Everyone was hugely impacted and fell in love with Surekha Sikri as Dadi Sa.

“It was a wonderful role. It was a great opportunity, and I really enjoyed playing the character of the matriarch. Initially, the show’s story was gripping. Then it lagged a bit, and soon, it picked up. But the last leg of the show was a little weird, as far as my character was concerned. However, I stayed till the end, as it was a commitment I had made,” Surekha told Hindustan Times in an interview.

Surekha Ji then went on to act in Ayushmann Khurrana’s Badhaai Ho in 2018 which won her third National Award.

“Mera pehla reaction tha… Mujhe laga arre ye kya ho gaya… (My first reaction was of disbelief) the director of the film called me to congratulate me, and even he deserves an award. Ayushmann has also won an award. I am extremely happy about it. Everybody worked hard on this film and now it feels so good. Families out there watched the film and enjoyed it, I am so grateful. Very excited about the win,” she told Zoom TV.

The actress refrained to retire despite her failing health in recent years. She even made her OTT debut with her last appearance in Netflix Ghost Stories in 2020.

“Retirement is an outdated word left to us by the British… There’s no limit to your work. Do anything you enjoy! Retirement doesn’t mean anything. You bet I have a lot of work ahead of me yet,” she told Rajeev Masand in an interview.

You will always have a special place in our memories, Dadi Sa.

This was story was first published on Life Beyond Numbers.

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Wednesday, December 01, 2021