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Sarika makes a grand comeback

Sarika's role in Parzania can be called the most defining comeback in recent years, writes Arnab Banerjee.

india Updated: Feb 09, 2007, 21:02 IST
Arnab Banerjee
Arnab Banerjee

What do actors do when they find themselves going in and out of fashion so much that it's almost like being trapped in a revolving door?

Simple: They carefully plan a grand comeback. There's no other business quite like show business and for a good comeback, a strategically planned return to the arc lights is as old as the industry itself.

But then trying to stage a comeback does not always guarantee a new lease of life, in fact, it could be rather disastrous for some and could really backfire in a pretty tragic way.

The classic example is '60s femme fatale Mumtaz whose career was crippled by her comeback film


opposite Prasenjit. Even if it followed a series of films, it would not have really mattered. Thankfully she didn't try any more comebacks and retired gracefully.

A still from the film Parzania

Also, what's important here is sensitivity. Talent. And maturity. It's pretty much common to see Hollywood actors applying greasepaint after a considerable gap and making all out efforts to see themselves back in the reckoning. Back home in India, it's pretty much different.

Most female actors once having lost their charismatic appeal at the box office, seldom rule the hearts of their fans all over again, though things are beginning to change for the better.

Sarika's only widely-seen role of the past decade has been in Basu Bhattacharya's films- Grihapravesh, Madhumalti and some of her earlier films Geet Gaata Chal, Shart, Vidhata and Nadiya ke Paar but former child artist Sarika made a triumphant comeback last week in Rahul Dolakia's Parzania.

This mother of a 16-year-old daughter has never really been out of work, but she hasn't done anything really decent in a while, has she? Her first brush with behind the camera as the costume designer in her then husband Kamal Hassan directed Hey Ram went unnoticed. May be, it was the director who walked away with all the accolades while she was left to take a back seat.

That is why for me the defining comeback of recent years has to be Sarika's in Parzania. As the lead players, in this Rahul Dholakia directed film based on the Gujarat riots, Naseeruddin Shah and Sarikaplay a middle-aged couple with two children.

That Shah is outstanding is a cliche – almost each of his performances has been award winning. But it's (Shernaz) Sarika who gains the audience votes here, not because she is better- with a world class performer Naseer there isn't scope for any such one-upmanship - but because she proves that when honest-to-themselves actors mature in age, they come back with loads of experience and and expertise.

In Parzania, it's difficult to single out scenes where she is good since she lives her character throughout. But for an actor to deliver a single long shot, the last courtroom scene must have been the most difficult one to execute.

Her pain is so naturally convincing that one actually empathises with the Parsi suffering mother caught up between the gruesome act of violence unawares.

Even in the scenes she is made to perform the daily chores, she is natural to the core. In the scene, as Shernaz faces a panel after the Gujarat riots in which she loses her son, Parzan, she is made to lay bare her emotions once again while recollecting the gruesome acts of inhuman carnage that she had witnessed.

In this scene, her unfaltering recall of the incidents has her not sobbing but choking and uncontrollably breaking down while trying to stifle her sobs. Her seething anger is all along evident even when she tries to be calm and answer questions patiently.

Wish there were more such directors with the vision to pluck an actor out of obscurity, brush off the dust and put them back in the spotlight – and that's fantastic news for the fans, isn't it?

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