Mumbai, Jul 16 (PTI) Remembering the 'highly competent' and a 'great talent' of Indian cinema, film personalities, including veteran filmmaker Shyam Benegal, Neena Gupta, Karisma Kapoor and Manoj Bajpayee paid tributes to actor Surekha Sikri, who died following a cardiac arrest on Friday.
Sikri, the winner of three National Awards that she amassed for her performances in movies 'Tamas', 'Mammo' and 'Badhaai Ho', breathed her last at a hospital in suburban Mumbai this morning. She was 75.
Benegal, who worked with Sikri for 'Mammo', 'Sardari Begum' and 'Zubeidaa', said it was always a delight to see Sikri perform.
'She was an extremely successful actor in theatre and I had seen her plays in Delhi and that's how I was introduced to her work. She gave outstanding performances in three of my films.
'She was such a brilliant actor that whatever role you gave her she would own it. She played both sympathetic and non-sympathetic roles with elan. She was a top-class, highly competent actor,' Benegal told PTI.
The veteran filmmaker said Sikri was a director's actor and a disciplined artiste.
'One of the things about theatre actors is that they are disciplined and she was also a very disciplined person. She would come on sets absolutely prepared and never wasted time. She was a director's actor. She was a huge asset on any film,' he added.
Gupta, who played daughter-in-law to Sikri's character Durga Devi Kaushik in 2018 sleeper hit 'Badhaai Ho', said she is deeply saddened by the veteran actor's demise.
'Today morning I got this very sad news that Surekha Sikri is no more. I want to share my grief with you all. I feel so sad that she is no more,” Gupta said in a video message on Instagram.
The 62-year-old actor said she was enamoured by Sikri's performances during her days in National School of Drama (NSD).
Prior to 'Badhaai Ho', Sikri and Gupta had worked on TV show “Saat Phere - Saloni Ka Safar'.
Gupta said she learnt a lot by just watching the veteran actor.
'I would just keep watching her when she would do her scenes. And there was so much I learnt and there was so much more to learn as well. What a commitment she had,' she said adding that Sikri kept giving her cues till she got a perfect shot.
The film, also starring Ayushmann Khurrana, Gajraj Rao and Sanya Malhotra, saw Sikri winning her third National Film Award for best supporting actress in 2019.
Rao shared a number of pictures with the late actor from the sets of film and said Sikri was the 'emotional anchor' of 'Badhaai Ho'.
'Making a film is like travelling in a train, where the journey is a destination in itself. You meet all kinds of co-passengers here. Some open up their tiffins and hearts to you, while some guard their luggage and eye you with suspicion.
''Badhaai Ho' will always be that special train journey which brought me to a new station in life, and I'm truly thankful that we had someone like Surekha ji as the emotional anchor of this ship,' he wrote.
Rao said Sikri was a simple-minded person who was 'youngest at heart'.
'(She) had no airs about her stature or endless experience as an actress. Her craft was defined by her years of homework and 'riyaaz' as an actress, combined with a child-like enthusiasm,' he added.
Khurrana and Malhotra both shared an old video of Sikri reciting noted writer Faiz Ahmed Faiz's Urdu poem 'Mujhse Pehli si Mohabbat' and simply wrote, 'RIP.' Bajpayee, her co-star from 'Zubeidaa', remembered her as a 'graceful person' who gave her 100 per cent to the craft of acting.
'Very sad news! One of the greatest talents Surekha Sikari ji passed away leaving behind so many great performances in theatre and cinema! She was a treat to watch on stage. Can’t forget some of those memories of her act in theatre. Great craft and a graceful person!! RIP,” he wrote.
Karisma Kapoor said acting alongside Sikri in 'Zubeidaa' was a 'wonderful journey'.
'So honoured to have gotten a chance to work with such a talented actor. Rest in Peace Surekha ji,' she wrote on her Instagram story alongside a photo from the movie.
Actor Nandita Das, who worked with the late veteran in her debut movie 'Parinati' (1989) and later on Benegal's 'Hari-Bhai', said Sikri played an instrumental role in her career.
'Deeply saddened to know. #SurekhaSikri was an extraordinary actor on stage and screen. Knew her since I was a child. I worked with her in my very first film - 'Parinati'.
'She convinced my father that it would be an exciting experience for me. And it was. Many memories with her,' she tweeted.
Filmmaker Zoya Akhtar, Janhvi Kapoor and Vijay Varma, who worked with Sikri on her last project 'Ghost Stories', also paid homage to the actor on Instagram.
'It was an honour to work with you,' Akhtar said.
Actor-producer Pooja Bhatt said she was a force of nature.
'She was a force of nature if ever there was one. Hence I won’t say rest in peace but RAGE in peace Surekhaji. As you did, during your time on earth!' she tweeted.
Actor Divya Dutta posted on Twitter that Sikri's demise was a 'big loss' for the Hindi film industry.
'RIP #surekha ji. I’ll always remember you so very fondly!! Big loss !! Your talent was spectacular!' she wrote on Twitter.
TV actor Shashank Vyas, who worked alongside Sikri in TV show 'Balika Vadhu', said she was full of 'life and positivity'.
'She lived life on her own terms and had a sense of humour. I learnt a lot from her in those five years. We both shared an extremely close bond,' Vyas told PTI.
Actors Konkona Sen Sharma, Dia Mirza, Sushant Singh and Randeep Hooda also paid homage to Sikri on social media. PTI KKP JUR SHD SHD