Surekha Sikri, the popular face of television and cinema who is famous for essaying the role of ‘Daadisa’ in Hindi television show ‘Baalika Vadhu’ has a glorious acting career spanning 40 years. Starting her career with the political drama ‘Kissa Kursi Ka’ in the year 1978, Surekha went on to win two National Awards for portraying some powerful characters on television.

And now she has already created a buzz with her side-splitting dialogues from the upcoming Ayushmann Khurrana, Sanya Malhotra and Neena Gupta starrer comedy Badhaai Ho.

The movie, slated to release on October 19 talks about a middle-class family where an older-adult couple gets pregnant and how the family deals with this sensitive issue. HappyAging spoke to Surekha Sikri about her upcoming film, health and how she continues to derive motivation to work consistently at the age of 73.

Read the excerpt of the interview here:

Badhaai Ho touches some very sensitive topics of pregnancy and sex in older couples. What were your reactions when you heard the script?

Badhaai Ho is a very nicely written script, which I totally loved. It is a story about a middle-class family living in Delhi. My role is of an old lady who is traditional and old fashioned and is the mother of the man of the house, who is slightly modern and poetic. She suddenly finds out that her 50-something-year-old bahu (daughter-in-law) is pregnant and so she is shocked thinking what will people say, and how would they face the society. The movie has dealt the situation in a very humorous and sweet way. What is interesting is how the film deals with the topic of an old couple being sexually active in a light and fun way.

Pregnancy in Aging Couple: Is it time we start talking about such taboo topics?

Well, definitely, people are dealing with such real situations. Some time ago an article featured in a leading daily about a couple from a small village of Bihar, where the 39-year-old woman who was already a grandmother by that age, finds out that she is pregnant. They felt so ashamed that they committed suicide.

It is time the issue of pregnancy in older couple turns from an embarrassing thing to an acceptable event in the society.

Today the atmosphere has become more open. We are more progressive and acceptable of topics like ‘Sexually Active Old Couples’. I am sure people will like the subject and become more open.

You have been quite active and working since the 70s. Do you see stress levels changing over the time?

“Stress levels have certainly gone up. Day-to-day living has become difficult. There is uncertainty about everything.”

Stress levels have certainly gone up. Day-to-day living has become difficult. There is uncertainty about everything. People are always rushing up for work then rushing back home, they undergo a lot of discomfort. Lives have become stressful. But human beings are resilient so they find ways and means to adjust the stress and still carry on as much as possible.

Things were more graceful and easier in the older times. Things were slower. We had to wait to even make a call, we had trunk calls in those days. Now everything is in the face and moving so fast. One should just take a pause and look into their lives and health.

Do you think people take their health for granted and why so?

“Diet should be part of school curriculum.”

Yes, people in their 30s and 40s are also facing lot of health issues. People eat all sorts of unhealthy food. They do not understand what to eat and what not to. I see solution lies in making ‘diet’ a part of basic schooling. People should know which diet has what nutrition and how do you balance your fitness with it. It should be a part of the basic curriculum. They must understand the harmful effects of wrong diet.

You have been working for last four decades, how do you manage work and personal life?

“I absolutely LOVE MY WORK and that gives me so much energy that I can carry on.”

I manage because I love my work. I absolutely LOVE MY WORK and that gives me so much energy that I can carry on. It interests me intellectually, physically and emotionally. It attracts me. When I play a character, I am interested in knowing where does that character come from, what are her internal thoughts, what is the psychology of that character and I observe a lot of people around me as I go anywhere. So, being active and working keeps me happy.

To keep yourself fit at this age do you follow any health regime?

I believe in Yoga and Ayurveda for healing and long term application.

Especially among older adults why is there a feeling of withdrawal when it comes to keeping fit?

“Retirement is an old-fashioned mindset that comes from concepts of Vaan-prasth ashram.”

I think it’s an old-fashioned mindset that comes from Vaan-prastha ashram, retirement and all such concepts. Ek bekaari ki feeling ensue kar di gai hai with the word retirement (A feeling of uselessness has been attached to the word retirement). Why even use that word? You are working all your life. You are using your brain. If you had a regular job that becomes a habit, once it’s gone, you are breaking the habit and that leads to depression.

So how should people keep themselves busy post-retirement?

“Just be interested in what you are doing. You can do thousands of things to keep yourself busy and not feel defeated post retirement.”

Just be interested in what you are doing. That’s the time to understand that one habit is gone and now let’s form new ones to keep ourselves busy. You could do gardening or read books, write articles or help people in NGOs.

“Older people should become more tech-savvy, learn to use computers and mobiles.”

One can do thousands of things, but the mindset should be there. Some people give up because of financial circumstances and after struggling all their lives to raise their children; life is such a struggle for middle-class. So they like to take a resting resort after retirement. Even that is fine. Bas ye haari hui feeling nahi honi chahiye (There should not be any feeling of defeat).

How do you see healthcare scenario changing in our country for senior citizens?

People need to be educated more regardless of their age in terms of making health choices. They should work on changing their callous attitude towards their health. Government should regulate usage of pesticides in food. They should support organic farming and healthy food.

Do you have any message for the growing generation in India?

“Good health leads to a happy mind!”

Please eat clean food and always tell the truth. These are two things that will keep you healthy and happy. And always remember – good health leads to a happy mind.


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