Shashikala, queen of versatility


Veteran actress Shashikala, who featured in supporting roles in hundreds of Bollywood movies primarily between 1950s and 1980s, died in Mumbai on Sunday.

A performer from a young age, she got recognition with films “Sujata”, “Aarti”, “Anupama”, “Phool Aur Patthar”, “Ayi Milan Ki Bela”, “Gumrah”, “Waqt”, “Khubsoorat”, “Teen Bati Char Rasta” and “Chhote Sarkar”. She was seen largely in negative, supportive roles in over a hundred films; taking on a sister’s and later mother’s roles in her career. Fiery and feisty, Shashikala was a household name who played a vamp ndash; an evil sister-in-law or mother-in-law. Film critic Raja Sen tweeted, “Salaam, Shashikala ji. A sterling performer. The kind of supporting actor who made heroes and heroines look better than they were. Loved her most in Anupama, as Annie Bakshi. RIP.”

Shashikala went through some really tough times. Born in a privileged family in Solapur, Maharashtra, they moved to Mumbai as the family fell on luck and Shashikala became the sole breadwinner. She married Om Prakash Saigal, the couple had two daughters. The marriage ended in divorce. She came in contact with Mother Terasa in Kolkata, worked with various charities and meditated to get over the grief.

She received Filmfare Best Supporting Actress Award in 1962 and 1963 for “Aarti” and “Gumrah”. She was a recipient of Padma Shri in 2007 for her contribution to Indian cinema. She shared screen space with Shah Rukh Khan in “Baadshah”, and her last known films were “Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham”, “Jhankaar Beats”, “Chori Chori” and “Mujhse Shaadi Karogi”. She was last seen in 2005 in “Padmashree Laloo Prasad Yadav”.

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