RIP Surekha Sikri: Revisiting late actress’ most notable on-screen performances
As the National Award-winning actor Surekha Sikri passed away on Friday, India lost an acting gem who gave audiences some of the most nuanced and passionate performances throughout her career spanning almost four decades. She was 75. The actress suffered a cardiac arrest earlier this morning. Surekha had been unwell for quite some time now, suffering from complications owing to a second brain stroke. She suffered a brain stroke in 2020 and a paralytic stroke in 2018.
Popularly known as ‘Dadisa’ in Indian households after her well-crafted role in the TV series ‘Balika Vadhu’, she was a film, theatre, and TV actor, who was born on April 19, 1945, in British India.
Hailing from Uttar Pradesh, Sikri spent most of her childhood in Almora and Nainital, and in 1971 graduated from the National School of Drama (NSD). There she worked with the NSD Repertory Company for over a decade.
She made her movie debut with the 1978 political drama film ‘Kissa Kursi Ka’ and later went on to play supporting roles in numerous Hindi and Malayalam films, as well as in Indian soap operas.
Her work in the critically acclaimed 1989 release ‘Salim Langde Pe Mat Ro’ and in Govind Nihalani’s ‘Tamas’, has been widely considered as her career’s best performances.
Some of her other well-appreciated films are ‘Zubeida’, ‘Mammo’, ‘Sardari Begum’, ‘Raincoat’ and ‘Mr and Mrs Iyer’. She has also acted in many TV serials like ‘Banegi Apni Baat’, ‘Kesar’, ‘Saher’, ‘Samay’ among others.
The recipient of several awards, including three National Film Awards and a Filmfare Award, Sikri’s 2018 release ‘Badhaai Ho’, starring Ayushmaan Khurana, Neena Gupta, Gajraj Rao, and Sanya Malhotra also received immense appreciation and recognition from the viewers and critics for her.
As the nation bids final adieu to the actor, let’s go down memory lane and commemorate the exemplary legacy of TV and cinema left behind by Sikri.
The movie was based on Bhisham Sahni’s Sahitya Akademi award-winning novel of the same name and was set in Pakistan during India’s partition in 1947. The film’s plot focused on the difficulties faced by Sikh and Hindu exiles as a result of partition. Sikri starred in the film as Rajo, a role that earned her a National Award for Best Supporting Actor.
Directed by Shyam Benegal, the ‘Muslim trilogy’ by the filmmaker began with ‘Mammo’ (1994), followed by ‘Sardari Begum’ (1996) and ‘Zubeidaa’ (2001). Sikri portrayed the role of Fayyazi, a grandmother to a 13-year-old Riyaz. Fareeda Jalal portrays a Pakistani woman who overcomes obstacles to reconcile with her family in India, including her sister (Sikri) and grandchild. The film got Sikri her second National Award.
Sikri once again reprised her role as Fayyazi in the film, which also starred Karisma Kapoor, Rekha, and Manoj Bajpayee. The protagonist here is also named Riyaz (Rajit Kapoor), who yearns to understand his mother, whom he never met since he was raised by his grandmother.
Balika Vadhu (2008- 2016)
Sikri’s portrayal of the family matriarch Kalyani Devi Singh, affectionately known as Daadisa in the television series ‘Balika Vadhu’ was arguably one of her most memorable performances.
The show was a coming-of-age story set in rural Rajasthan about a child bride and her transition to womanhood. Sikri won the Indian Telly Award for Best Actress in a Negative Role in 2008 for her performance in the show.
Badhaai Ho (2018)
Sikri’s performance in Amit Ravindernath Sharma’s ‘Badhaai Ho’ propelled her into a social media sensation practically overnight. For the film, she reprised her role as a domineering matriarch, but one who is woke. Ayushmann Khurrana, Neena Gupta, Gajraj Rao, Shardul Rana, and Sanya Malhotra also acted in the film, which got Sikri her third National Award.
The actor, whose last screen appearance was in the Netflix anthology ‘Ghost Stories’ (2020), died following a cardiac arrest.
While her demise has left the entire entertainment industry in a state of shock, her place will always feel like a void that will never be filled again.
Also Read: Surekha Sikri dies at 75: Manoj Bajpayee, Neena Gupta, other celebs mourn her death