“This tale is about domestic workers who are so much more than a ‘bai’, “says Sarita Joshi

The Gujarati and Marathi thespian plays the titular role in Zee Theatre’s one-woman teleplay ‘Sakubai’ and says she learnt a lot of life lessons from her character

Padma Shri and Sangeet Natak Akademi Award winner Sarita Joshi has worked in Gujarati and Hindi theatre, television shows, and films for decades and is known for surrendering totally to the characters she plays. The actor who essays the titular role in Nadira Zahir Babbar’s classic play ‘Sakubai’ says, “This character reminds me of so many powerful, generous, giving women who helped me raise my children as a working mother. They nurtured not just them but me. Sakubai is very close to my heart because it reminds me of countless, undervalued, overworked domestic workers who are so much more than a ‘bai’. Like Sakubai, they have lived through great challenges and yet face every day with grit and a smile.”

Joshi who in her formative years as an actor worked with masters like Satyadev Dubey among others says, “I have had a wonderful creative journey and essayed many characters but Sakubai taught me how to travel light through life, find joy and humour in the smallest of things. For too long, these women were not given the credit that was due to them and it was during the lockdown period that people realised how much they need the unappreciated Sakubais to run their households smoothly.”

She praises her director Nadira Zaheer Babbar for adding little nuances that slowly reveal to us the many layers of Sakubai’s character and the experiences that have shaped her through life. She adds, “Sakubai looks after a rich family in Mumbai and has nobody to share her own life with. As she begins to communicate with the audience, issues like social inequity, gender violence, and paucity of opportunities for girls, begin to reveal themselves. I also had a great time impersonating the various characters that the audience does not see in the play. It was a very fulfilling experience to embody Sakubai and to communicate the need for more empathy and respect for women who brings so much comfort and ease to our lives.”

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