‘Hum Log’ ki kuch meethi yaadein
“Where do I start”, she sighs! She reminisces how she had just returned from US when Vasudev approached her for the role of Dadi and his first reaction on seeing her was that she was too young to play Dadi. “It took some convincing from my part when I told him to give me the script. Once I read it, I knew I had to do it. In those days, we never got separate make up rooms or our personal make up man. I took it upon myself to give the character of Dadi a real rustic and raw look.”
“I rummaged through my mother’s trunk and got out the typical cotton sarees with collar and blouses with frill sleeves. I specially ordered my wig from Bombay as those days wigs were very essential. The whole get up had to have the unpolished look. Once Vasudev saw me, rest was history”, she remembers fondly. “I was 45 years old then and had to look 70. I think I managed it well. We had a lot of fun shooting for ‘Hum log’ as the shooting back then was in Gurgoan and all of us used to share one room.
Speaking about her ‘Hum Log’ days she continues, “Well, it was the most memorable period I can remember. All the characters were very well defined. Each character had their own thinking process, as the script was well worded and thought about. There was never a moment of boredom and every episode which was aired had a fresh topic to tell. I initially had some problems with the language but in no time, I picked the tone and rawness the character had. The best part was that each episode had so much insight to the values, which at times I feel are lost somewhere today.”
Work and Family – Finding the right balance
“Oh, it’s extremely difficult,” she confesses, “if you don’t have a supportive family to back you up. My Husband Dhruv and my mother supported me thoroughly in taking up this life. I am very fortunate that they were there for this passion of mine otherwise, I couldn’t have done it. I never shifted my base to Bombay; I made sure if any role required me, they would touch base with me in Delhi. I had three small school going children then who needed my care. It was essential to balance that with my work.”
Television Shows and Films
“In Shyam Benegal’s ‘Junoon’, the backdrop was Lucknow but we shot it in Bombay. I also worked with Shashi Kapoor and Jennifer who were such a warm and lovely couple. We became good friends too. After doing my first movie, I instantly got four offers and I took all of them. They were Raj Kapoor, Dev Anand, Yash Chopra and Shyam Benegal. I have done over 80 movies. The ones I enjoyed the most were ‘Prem Rog’, ‘Silsila’, ‘Chandni’, ‘Kalyug’, and ‘1942 A love Story’. There are many more but I can’t remember any off hand.”
Sushma Seth is presently doing Karan Johar’s ‘Student of the Year’ and ‘Section 498’ and ‘A Wedding gift’. She has recently shot a pilot episode for Doordarshan’s ‘Swarg Ma Ke Charnon Mein’.
Association with Theatre and NGO
“I have been involved with an NGO called ‘Arpana’. Actually it’s been 10 years now. I thoroughly enjoy the happiness I derive from this work. I am also involved in theatre and have been doing stage work for about thirty years now. I have majored in Drama. Currently we (NGO) have done an adaptation of a Rabindranath Tagore play called ‘Tasher Desh’, which means Taash ka Desh. I basically look after the drama quotient there. It’s a treat to see the children perform.
With an amazing body of work behind her and unparalled talent that has kept us entertained for years, she has few words of invaluable advice for youngsters stepping into the industry. “Have enough motivation and dedication to sustain yourself here. It’s a lovely industry if you have the right approach towards it. Basic education is a pre-requisite of this trade. Talent mixed with hard work will take you very far. One should know the techniques to handle the tools here. Just do your work with sincerity. All the best to all the young budding talents.”