regular-article-logo Saturday, 03 June 2023

Sarika: ‘I am always looking to play characters who are not like me’

Uunchai, also starring Amitabh Bachchan, Anupam Kher and Boman Irani, marks Sarika’s return to Rajshri Productions after the 1975 film Geet Gaata Chal

Sameer Salunkhe Mumbai Published 09.11.22, 05:07 PM
Sarika in Uunchai.

Sarika in Uunchai. Instagram

Veteran actress Sarika, who is making her return to Rajshri Productions with their upcoming film Uunchai after more than 40 years, sees her collaboration with the production house as her homecoming. Her last project with Rajshri Productions was the critically acclaimed 1975 film Geet Gaata Chal. In a candid chat, Sarika opened up about the kind of roles she wants to play and her character Mala in Uunchai, also starring Amitabh Bachchan, Anupam Kher and Boman Irani. Uunchai will release in theatres on November 11.


What can you tell about Mala, the character that you play in Uunchai?

Sarika: Mala is a very independent character. Mala’s standing in the film is very different. She is not connected to anybody. She is a single woman standing there which is very attractive. There’s an intrigue to her character. She doesn’t speak much. Mala also has her journey like the rest of the characters in the film.

After such a long journey in films, what excites you to do a film now?

Sarika: A good role. A good director. A good script. Nothing else matters. If the role is not good in terms of quality and where it stands in the script, then it doesn’t work. A good director because that’s half the fun of doing a film.

What was your response when Uunchai was offered to you?

Sarika: I said yes immediately. I decided to do it because I wanted to be back home. For me, it was emotional. After Geet Gaata Chal (1975), it was a homecoming for me so I just wanted to do that. I had no expectations. It just happened that the role was so good and the screenplay was good too. I was happy when he (Sooraj Barjatya) sent it to me during the lockdown. Because I had already decided to do the film as a person but then the role and script were so nice that the actor in me was also happy to make a mark.

Sometimes the characters that you play are drastically opposite to what you are in real life. Sometimes actors do films for various reasons. How important is conviction in such cases?

Sarika: Conviction is to do it right, isn’t it? There’s no fun playing myself. That’s boring. I am always looking for women characters who are not like me. Of course, every character that I play has some shade of me. But I like doing characters that are not like me or the things that happen to them have not happened to me. It’s interesting because it’s not easy. Once you get that, you just get into her life. That’s why good directors are important. You can’t and should not make that journey alone. You have to make it with your director. That’s when you’ll succeed as an actor.

One of my favourite dialogues from Alexander Payne’s Sideways is when Thomas Haden Church tells Paul Giamatti, ‘I am an actor. All I have is my instinct. And you’re asking me to go against it.’ What’s the importance of instinct for an actor?

Sarika: My favourite part of that dialogue is ‘you’re asking me to go against it’. That is very interesting. If you’re asking me to go against it, then I want to know why you want me to go against it. If you convince me, then it’s our instinct. But if you can’t convince me, then we’re not working together. We’re going in different directions.

I liked your character Dilbar from the Modern Love Mumbai anthology. That story was handled with great sensitivity.

Sarika: I don’t think anybody else could have directed it the way Alankrita (Shrivastava) did. She has that touch of sensitivity.

What kind of roles do you want to play more?

Sarika: I am really looking at playing different lives that are around me. Real lives. Not only the screenplay lives. I don’t have anything against screenplay lives. But I would prefer to go all the way. There’s no fun in playing half-baked, underdeveloped roles. It’s strange but every time I play a character like Mala or Dilbar, when the film ends, the character dies. That’s the death of the character. How can you kill them halfway? You have to give it a full go. Dilbar had a full go, a complete character arc.

Some films give you something whereas some films take something away from you. What did Uunchai give or take?

Sarika: Uunchai took my toenails. It was a one-month schedule. By mistake, I wore small shoes on the first day. I was walking downhill and my toe got hurt. On my fourth day, my toenails were curtailed. On my twelfth day, my toenails were forming pus. It went on and on but I couldn’t do anything. I used to put deo on it because there was pus inside and blood coming out. I completed the film like that. So, that’s what Uunchai took from me.

But it gave me so much. It gave me new friends. I had never worked with Anupam Ji and Neena Ji before. It gave me the chance to work with one of the finest directors. If any actor gets to work with Sooraj Ji, even for four days, his/her outlook would change. As a person, you learn from him how to live your life correctly without trying to score points. It’s amazing. I cherish this experience very much. And it extends from top to bottom in the production. I’m not saying this for promotion, but honestly, there was not a single person in this film’s production who had a wrong note. You can’t plan this. It just happens.

The goodness that Rajshri films exude is remarkable. People think that being kind or good is a sign of weakness but it is actually a sign of strength, isn’t it?

Sarika: Yes. All these things such as being quiet, being silent, being kind, and being good are considered to be weaknesses. They’re the biggest strengths. It takes strength to be in that space.

At this stage in life, do you have any things on your checklist?

Sarika: I don’t have a checklist at all. Whenever I want to do something, I do it right away. I’m that person. If I want to tell you that you’re good or your shirt is good, I’ll tell you right now. I believe that you should never ‘not do things’. This is the day. This is the moment. No regrets later. I believe in that.

An artist is learning all the time. After being a professional actor for so many years, is the student in you still alive?

Sarika: Yes, very much. Every day. And not just at work, but in life. You’re constantly learning. It’s amazing, isn’t it? It’s a surreal fact that you don’t stop learning from people you meet or work with. It’s so fascinating.

Follow us on: