Veteran actor Surekha Sikri, known for her work in films ‘Mammo’, ‘Badhaai Ho’ and TV show ‘Balika Vadhu’, died on Friday morning at the age of 75 following a cardiac arrest. She was suffering from complications arising out of a second brain stroke.
She was surrounded by family and her caregivers. Sikri had suffered her first brain stroke in September last year.
The artiste leaves behind a rich body of work spread across theatre, television and films.
Best known to contemporary audiences as ‘Dadisa’ from the popular Indian soap opera ‘Balika Vadhu’ and the cantankerous-yet-lovable mother-in-law from ‘Badhaai Ho!’, the Delhi-born artiste, spent her childhood days in the hills of the Kumaon region of Uttarakhand.
She completed her graduation from the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU), Uttar Pradesh, and then enrolled for the National School of Drama (NSD) in 1968.
Post her graduation from the NSD in 1971, Sikri continued to work in theatre and was attached with the NSD Repertory Company for more than a decade, performing in hit productions such as ‘Sandhya Chhaya’, ‘Tughlaq’ and ‘Adhe Adhure’.
With an aim to explore other avenues as an actor, Sikri shifted base to Mumbai in the late 1970s and made her debut in films with Amrit Nahata's 1978 political satire ‘Kissa Kursi Ka’ and followed it up with critically-acclaimed features ‘Tamas’ (1986) by Govind Nihalani, for which she won her first National Film Award, and Saeed Akhtar Mirza's ‘Salim Langde Pe Mat Ro’ in 1989. The same year she was awarded the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award.
Shyam Benegal's 1994 feature film ‘Mammo’, starring Farida Jalal in the lead, further established Sikri as the go to person for significant supporting characters. Her performance in the film as grandmother Fayyuzi also earned her the second National Film Award.
The director-actor duo further collaborated on 1996 musical ‘Sardari Begum’ and 2001's ‘Zubeidaa’.
In cinema, Sikri worked with the celebrated filmmakers like Rituparno Ghosh, Aparna Sen and Mani Kaul among others.