Call it a 90s kid thing, a fondness for comedy, or just plain old nostalgia, but I am one of those adults who is still in love with the ultimate, magical fantasy show to exist on Indian TV, Shararat – Thoda Jaadu, Thodi Nazaakat.
After all, it gave me a character whose mention alone leaves me giddy with happiness, brings a smile on my face, and has me believing in all things magical. I am talking about nani played by the incomparable queen of comic-timing, Farida Jalal.
Farida Jalal is one of Bollywood’s most beloved stars. A veteran actor who has been a part of TV, mainstream, and independent cinema, Farida Jalal has some truly iconic roles to her name.
And yet, the character I have the fondest memories of is Sushma “Nani” Mehra from Shararat (Dekh Bhai Dekh’s Suhasini comes at a close second).
As Jia’s nani, she was her confidante, her biggest cheerleader, and essentially, the epitome of love that is unique to grandparents.
But, she was also a bundle of joy and mischief, the kind you often associate with an impish, precocious child.
Usually, in Hindi cinema, grandparents get away with most things through emotional blackmail.
But nani got away with interfering in her granddaughter’s love life, troubling her son-in-law, and often jinxing her meddling neighbors, because of her clever quips, and playfulness.
Also, every other character still stuck to a mould. Jia was the typical, moody, college teenager (we’ve all been there) coming to terms with her magical inheritance.
Radha was the dutiful wife and mother, maintaining peace in the house, and Suraj was the typical father, protective of his family.
But nani? Nani did not fit into a mould. And that’s why she has continued to be my favourite.
I loved seeing that while age may rob us of many things, it couldn’t rob us of streaks of rebellion, pranking abilities, and a positive attitude towards life.
Of course, it goes without saying that Farida Jalal’s impeccable performance added an endearing, believable quality to the character that so many people loved and related with.
In a way, Shararat’s nani reminds me of Indravardhan Sarabhai – they are not perfect characters, and they are unmatched in their ability to prank people. But, their intentions are always pure.
I don’t know if it was because she played a grandmother (and we all have a special corner in our heart for grandparents), or because she is that brilliant an actor, but Farida Jalal, as nani from Shararat, is my constant reminder to take life with a pinch of humor.
Here’s to always looking for magic and fun in the universe. Or, as nani said, shring bhring sarvaling, bhoot, bhavishya, vartmaan badling.
All images from Hotstar, unless specified otherwise.