Retirement an old-fashioned English concept: Actress Surekha Sikri

Surekha Sikri (photo: IMDb)
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By Sugandha Rawal

New Delhi– She has been a part of the industry for the past 40 years, entertaining people through different avatars that she has brought alive on screen. Actress Surekha Sikri, who is being loved for her portrayal as a nagging grandma in “Badhaai Ho”, has no plan to slow down, and says she has no desire to retire either.

“Retirement? Hello, I don’t even know that word. What does it mean,” Surekha, 73, asked with a chuckle while speaking to IANS on the phone from Mumbai.

“That’s a very old-fashioned English concept … That you do something and then you retire — and mostly it applies to government servants. Fortunately, I am a freelancer and I don’t have any wish or desire to retire. I can just go on and on,” added the veteran, who is basking in the appreciation coming from all quarters for her mother-in-law avatar in “Badhaai Ho”.

Surekha made her debut in 1978 with political drama “Kissa Kursi Ka”, and created a name for herself by working in films, theatre and television.

She is credited for projects like “Tamas”, “Mammo”, “Sarfarosh”, “Zubeidaa”, “Jo Bole So Nihaal” and “Humko Deewana Kar Gaye”.

For the small screen audience, Surekha is still know as Dadisa from the show “Balika Vadhu”. She has also featured in “Saat Phere – Saloni Ka Safar”, “Ek Tha Raja Ek Thi Rani”, “Pardes Mein Hai Mera Dil” and “Just Mohabbat”.

Looking back at the time when she entered the industry and comparing it with the present for female stars, she said: “Things are more out in the open. People are ready to accept and talk about it. Earlier, it was all pretty-pretty and ‘follow the formula’ if we talked about Bollywood.

“On TV, I had a fairly decent share in the older times. It has become more regressive now. But in the film industry, things are now looking up.”

The National Film Award-winning actress says there are days when she ponders about how things would have turned out if she entered the industry at present.

“I often say that I should have been born 40-50 years later, looking at the scene right now. But anyway, there are many roles for people like me,” she added.

Does she think there are interesting roles being written for senior actors?

“I am sure there will be good roles. The whole thing has changed and you could never think of having a full movie with older characters like Amitabh Bachchan and Rishi Kapoor in ‘102 Not Out’. They were the main characters of the film.

“I think there are far more chances for people like me who belong to a certain category, image wise.”

Here, she praised director Amit Ravindernath for taking an unusual subject with “Badhaai Ho” — a film about a man whose mother becomes pregnant. It also features Ayushmann Khurrana, Neena Gupta, Gajraj Rao and Sanya Malhotra.

“The subject is considered to be a taboo… ‘Log kya kahenge’ (what will people say) when a middle-aged woman gets pregnant again since they have grown-up children already. It is a matter of shame for most people. It is a very false kind of shame because, after all, love is there all the time.”

The actress feels there is a “whole heap of interesting directors and a whole heap of interesting script-writers” in present-day Bollywood.

“They are tackling all kinds of subjects and I think it is a very exciting time for any actor to be in the industry right now,” she added.

After “Badhaai Ho”, Surekha has several projects lined up.

“There are a couple of projects in the pipeline but I would rather not talk about it right now.” (IANS)


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