Surekha Sikri is one of the most popular Television actresses, and a renowned actress in Bollywood as well. She had been ill for quite sometime now. She suffered a paralytic stroke in 2018 and brain stroke in 2020. On 16 July, 2021 she suffered a cardiac arrest and passed away. This is a tribute to the veteran actress, for her achievements and contribution in the world of acting.
An accidental path to the world of acting?
Surekha Sikri belongs to an Airforce family, and she never thought that she was going to become such a big name in the country. It was around 1965, when Surekha’s sister became interested in acting. Her sister wanted to get admitted in NSD, National School of Drama. But due to a certain circumstances she changed her mind. The form that was brought for her was kept aside for a long time. Later on, it was Surekha’s mother who suggested her to fill the form. But Surekha was inclined towards writing and reading as she was a reader. So she just filled the form nonchalantly and was called for an interview. Surekha says that she just whispered the lines given to her, she didn’t even perform well but she got in.
She also said that it was the year 1965, and very less women used to apply in NSD, so to encourage more women maybe they gave her a chance. She completed her three years course in 1968 and joined NSD repertory. While sharing her experience about National School of Drama, Surekha Sikri says that everything was taught in the classes; from makeup, lighting, backstage technicalities but even after graduation she felt like she didn’t learn anything. It was during one of her theatre plays after graduation when she felt that everything clicked, and she now knows everything. Suddenly everything related to theatrics started making sense to her.
From the beginning…
Surekha Sikri didn’t have any prior experience regarding theatrics or acting. She learnt very slowly and gradually after her course got complete. Surekha then started working in the NSD repertory, where she worked for 15 years. She gives a lot of credit regarding her knowledge to popular Indian theatre director and drama teacher Ebrahim Alkazi. While sharing one of her experiences, when she was in first year, they were to act in a Greek tragedy. She had a very small role, and moreover she played Helen of Troy. During that time she didn’t even know how to stand on stage. She was so nervous that her knees froze and she couldn’t enter the stage. But she forced herself to enter the stage, but out of nervousness she couldn’t speak her lines properly. Recalling that memory as one of her most embarrassing experiences.
When her journey began, gaining Name and Fame : National Award Winner
Surekha Sikri has played roles in various plays like Mukhya Mantri, Sandhya Chhaya, Begum ka Takhiya and Three sisters. Her first film was Kissa Kursi Ka in 1978. During her repertory, she also worked with renowned actors like Naseeruddin Shah, Om Puri ad Raghubir Yadav. After 15 years working in NSD repertory, she felt like changing her city. But she had no intention of changing her career. She felt like whichever city she went, she could continue to work as a theatre artist. She wanted to change her city due to some personal unpleasant experiences. Surekha chose to move to Mumbai not because it was “The City of Dreams” and the Bollywood resides in Mumbai. Her only reason to choose Mumbai was that her sister had a flat there.
So Mumbai was purely coincidental and unplanned. But after coming to Mumbai, she never acted onstage, that is she never did theatre again. She tried joining various theatre groups, but to no avail, and furthermore she didn’t receive any encouragement as such. Surekha Sukri went on to gain name and fame via films like Tamas(1988), Mammo(1994), Raincoat (2004) and Badhai Ho(2018). Although she gained much more popularity via several Television serials. Surekha Sikri furthermore won the National Award thrice, for Tamas(1988), Mammo(1994) and Badhai Ho(2018).
Surekha Sikri as an actor
As an actor, she never felt her role as boring and she never set her mindset in that way. She never set a goal for herself, as she felt everything that came along her way was an accident. The whole industry and people countrywide will remember Surekha Sikri for her achievements and contribution to the world of acting, in Bollywood as well as Television Industry. We pray that she has gone to a better place.