Talking point with Sadiya Siddiqui

The diminutive actor on how she continues to have a strong presence on television

You play the role of Phulwa on the new show, Hum, inspired by Hum Log. Can you tell us a bit about the character?
Phulwa belongs to a family from the lower strata of society. When her husband is killed by the local zamindar's goons, she decides to fight for justice. She goes to the police, the courts and even ends up fighting the local elections. Her story is one that is shared by so many people in real life who, because they don't have money and social standing, never see justice for all the wrongs that are done to them. During the course of shooting, I've come across many such instances.

Did it surprise you that some people still face the kind of injustices that Phulwa does?
Absolutely. Phulwa's story is set in modern India, which is supposedly so advanced, but I was shocked to find how feudal some parts of the country still are. Hum is being shot in Sitamarhi in Bihar, which looks like it belongs to some bygone era and it completely took me by surprise how backward it is.

You've been in the television industry for many years and have done a variety of roles. Which one stands out the most in your memory?
It's a little hard to say, because all the roles offered to me have been so good. In recent memory, though, my role in Balika Vadhu as a teacher who fights against child marriage, was a difficult role to do. It was also physically grueling because we shot in Rajasthan and it was very hot there.

You were invited to the Emmy Awards once when you were acting in Humrahi. Has anything ever matched that high?
Not at all. That was such a prestigious invitation. The committee had been looking at social dramas from around the world, and they selected Humrahi from India, and from Humrahi they selected me. It was such an honour.

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