A renowned theatre veteran, a versatile actor on the big screen, a star on the small screens, and a three-time National Film Award winner, Surekha Sikri was undoubtedly one of the most talented personalities in the Indian film industry. The veteran actor, who died at the age of 76 after suffering a cardiac arrest last year, started her film career in 1978 with the film Kissaa Kursee Kaa and went on to do many memorable roles in a career spanning over 40 years.
Sikri was last seen in the Netflix anthology Ghost Stories (2020), in director Zoya Akhtar’s short film and won her last National award for her performance in Badhaai Ho (2018). Even while doing supporting roles, Sikri managed to make her presence on screen unforgettable. She will be remembered for her acting prowess and sheer enthralling screen presence and her contribution to the world of cinema will continue to live on.
On her birth anniversary, Silverscreen India brings to you a list of her most memorable performances…
Sikri played the role of Fayyuzi in this Shyam Benegal film that won her her second National Film Award. The film saw her play the role of the protagonist’s grandmother who has an encounter with her long-lost sister, Mammo, unexpectedly. The story dealt with how the partition affected society and Sikri gave a performance that many consider her career best.
Based on Bhisham Sahni’s Hindi novel, the period television film directed by Govind Nihalani, saw Sikri play the role of Rajo. Sikri won a National Award for the her performance in the film. Set in the backdrop of the partition, this heart-wrenching story received much critical appreciation and established the late actor’s brilliance on screen.
Sikri reprised her role as Fayyuzi in this final part of Benegal’s trilogy. Even though this one did not give her much screen time, she managed to shine even in the few scenes where she appeared as the protagonist’s grandmother. The film even went on to win a National Award.
Hari Bhari (2000)
By the 2000s Sikri had already established herself as an acting powerhouse and her choice of scripts spoke volumes too. She went for powerful stories and characters without looking at screen time and focusing on her screen space. Hari Bhari revolved around the stories of 5 different women and their struggles with reproductive rights. It talked about the woes of women who were penalised for not bearing a male child. Another Benegal and Sikri collaboration, this film also featured Shabana Azmi and Nandita Das among others.
Directed by Prakash Jha, this film is based on a Rajasthani folk tale which revolves around Ganesh, a potter, his wife Kurja (played by Sikri), and Lachman, their son. Parinati spoke about the ills of greed and the price one has to pay when one becomes excessively greedy. The film may have shown us a different shade of Sikri, but it was a shade much appreciated by the critics and audience.
Badhaai Ho (2018)
This film became popular not only because of its groundbreaking story but also for the brilliant performances of all the actors. Sikri played the role of Ayushmann Khurrana‘s grandmother and was immensely liked for her character’s bitter-sweet personality. She won her third National Award for this part and was even given a standing ovation as she came in her wheelchair to receive the award.
Balika Vadhu (2008)
This list cannot be complete without an honourable mention of Sikri’s most iconic role of all time – Dadisa in Balika Vadhu. She was seen as the strict widow grandmother and portrayed the rural Rajasthani matriarch flawlessly.