'I'm just a little old woman'

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By Unlike the tyrannical daadi-saa of Balika Vadhu Surekha Sikri is a soft-spoken person in real life Mili Swarnakar (Bollywood News Service)]
  • Published 6.01.09

Congratulations on winning the ‘Best actress in a negative role’ at Indian Television Academy awards.

I do not play my character negatively. But there is a shortage of categories — they have one negative, one positive. The industry’s perception of categories is strange.

Balika Vadhu has given you more popularity than ever before.

That’s true. I have done a lot of good roles in my life but this has hit the bull’s eye. Everybody likes it. It is a well-written story and character and I have the pleasure of playing it.

You seem to be living the character.

I try to empathise with the character and try and look at her viewpoint. The identification process ensues. Unless I’m convinced, I cannot convince somebody else. So I have to get under the skin of the character.

In these times, how do you justify your tyrannical character? Do you think mothers-in-law like dadi-saa exist today?

I think women like dadi-saa exist in little towns and villages and, to some extent, even in cities. They might not be wearing dehati clothes but their attitude is the same towards their daughters-in-law. You read about people living in highrises beating up their daughters-in-law for dowry.

What if some mothers-in-law make you their role model — that would be dangerous?

A ma-in-law should not make me her role model; she should have her own convictions. Why would anyone want to be like my character? I’m sure a lot of them want to bash me up (laughs).

Has anyone come up and expressed his anger at you?

Once somebody came up to me and said: “Please don’t torture the little kid (laughs).”

Why is there a dearth of roles for the contemporary ma-in-law on TV today?

Lack of imagination, I think. On television, people follow whatever is working, instead of thinking of something original. I would love to play a mother-in-law in jeans — it would be a fantastic character. You have to think out of the box. I'm sure such characters will go down well. Aisa nahin hai ki audience ko chahiye isliye hum de rahein hai. It is an absolute myth.

Can you elaborate?

Balika Vadhu has proved that the moment you give the audience something better, they switch loyalties to that show.

Your co-star Smita Bhansal says she gets goosebumps doing scenes with you.

I’m very fond of Smita. She is a fine actress. I enjoy working with all my co-stars on the sets.

Who is your favourite child?

Oh! I will not divulge that (laughs). All of them are my favourites. I like Anandi and Avinash. The girl who plays Suguna is also a fine actress.

From your earlier roles, which would be your pick?

I enjoyed playing Radha, the mother of three daughters in Banegi Apni Baat. It was another well-written role.

You come from the NSD. Do you believe that training/theatre makes better actors?

Yes, it gives a certain amount of discipline and empowers you with various techniques on how to approach your role.

What kind of a person are you in real life?

Oh, I’m just a little old woman with a normal lifestyle. I work from morning to evening; and when I’m not shooting I stay at home. Because of these shooting schedules, I am left with no time. I mostly like spending time at home. Nowadays, because of the traffic, one does not feel like going anywhere. I enjoy my work a lot, it energises me a great deal. I love music, reading, cooking.

One knows very little of your personal life.

I’m married to Hemant Rege and I have a son who lives in Delhi. He is in his late twenties. He is an artiste, a self-taught painter. My husband is involved in production work.