Veteran actress Sushma Seth, fondly remembered as Dadi from Dekh Bhai Dekh, is known for her work in theatre, TV and films, has been away from the limelight but has been keeping herself occupied with dance-drama workshops and music. The 87-year-old actress was conferred a lifetime achievement award by Mahindra Excellence in Theatre Awards(META).
She spoke in detail about her love for theatre, its popularity today and what all she is planning to do to make theatre popular among all age groups.
She recalled her active involvement in theatre and playing lead roles in dramas like Rano in ‘Ek Chadar Maili Si’, Katherine in ‘Taming of the Shrew’, Raina in ‘Arms and the Man’, Susan in ‘The Little Hut’, Tarla in ‘Aiyee Bala Ko Taal Tu’ and more. The actress said that despite doing so many things from directing plays to costume designing and selling tickets, she never felt tired.
She told IANS: “I cherish those years of continuous, wonderful theatre involvement, directed ‘Desire Under the Elms’, ‘Gandhiji’s Sadhna’, did costumes, sought advertising, sold tickets. At the time I was teaching speech and drama at Convent of Jesus and Mary and rehearsing in the evenings – but it never tired me, I felt elated. I was overjoyed after receiving the award. I have been associated with META since its inception.”
Sushma started her acting career in the 1950s and she was the founder member of Delhi-based theatre group Yatrik. With films, TV and OTT, theatre somewhere is losing its charm.
“Regional theatre will always have their faithful audiences in the villages. But movies, TV and OTT made easily available on small screens and phones are a threat to theatre,” she said.
She has been in several TV shows, films and theatrical performances. Few of them always remained close to her heart. From working in movies like ‘Junoon’ to shows like ‘Hum Log’, she explored different mediums.
As she said: “‘Junoon’ was a learning experience for me. I had never watched or acted in a film. It was an utterly splendid experience with Shyam Benegal as the director, and generous and affectionate Shashi Kapoor and Jennifer as the producers. Every aspect of the film was superb as was the making. Another memorable character was ‘Dadi’ from the show ‘Humlog’, which I thoroughly enjoyed playing. ‘Dekh Bhai Dekh‘ was a superbly written, directed and performed series. Refreshing comedy and spontaneous repartee. Our director-Anand Mahendroo was a perfectionist and never satisfied till he had 4-5 takes.”
On talking about her future projects, she added: “I’m devising dramatisation of literature and historical text for the students of a NGO. This will enhance their understanding and retain the information. Moreover, I have also been doing dance-drama workshops with the students for the last 22 years. Directed 7 dance-dramas which were performed for schools, orphanages and audiences.”
Concluding the conversation, she spoke about her love for Hindustani Classical Music and said: Music is a vitally important part of my day. I listen to morning ragas and Maha-Mrityunjaya Jaap. Everyday I make sure to do a 30-minute Riyaaz.”