Celebrating Ratna Pathak Shah: The Timeless Sarabhai Matriarch Lives On


Ratna Pathak Shah remains the iconic Maya Sarabhai for fans who haven’t moved on from the show ‘Sarabhai vs Sarabhai’ and even love to use her dialogues in casual conversations.

On March 18, as the clock struck birthday time for Ratna Pathak Shah, the storied halls of Indian television comedy resonated with the echoes of the ever-elegant Maya Sarabhai, a character that has left an indelible mark on the heart of Indian pop culture. Actress Ratna Pathak Shah, who immortalized the character of Maya Sarabhai, celebrated her special day, receiving love and adulations from fans who continue to adore her portrayal in the hit series ‘Sarabhai vs Sarabhai’.

Ratna, an illustrious figure of the Indian acting community, began to shine with performances in the television show ‘Idhar Udhar’ that graced the silver screens in the 80s. However, it was the character of Maya Sarabhai, a sophisticated and snobbish mother-in-law to a quintessential middle-class daughter-in-law named Monisha, that brought Ratna the fame and acknowledgment she deserved.

Maya Sarabhai’s razor-sharp wit, her penchant for the finer things in life, and the effortless class barriers she drew and expressed in words, became emblematic of Ratna’s unparalleled skill as an actress. But it was not just in comedy that she triumphed. A testament to her versatility, Ratna was also critically acclaimed for her role in the fearless film ‘Lipstick Under My Burkha,’ where she portrayed a woman clandestinely leading a double life.

Although Ratna’s career spans a plethora of memorable roles, it’s the character of Maya Sarabhai that continues to resonate with viewers. Even long after the show ended, Maya’s quotes are sprinkled throughout conversations, often surfacing as witty references and hilarious memes on social media, demonstrating the character’s impact on the modern lexicon.

Here is a collection of delightful Maya Sarabhai quips to peruse on Ratna’s birthday. Try imagining them in her impeccable delivery:

“Monisha Beta, yeh haila toh theek tha, but this haichi is categorically middle-class.”

“Congratulations Monisha! Shall we pop the champagne or will jaljeera suffice?”

“TV actors ke saath photo khichvana is just the epitome of middle class.”

“Calling something made by a carpenter who flunked out of carpentry school ‘antique’ is akin to calling Monisha sophisticated.”

“Indravadan’s love is like Monisha’s curtains. Faded!”

“When you yawn without covering your mouth, I am reminded of the Ajanta-Ellora caves.”

“Monisha would accept paneer even if it was thrown at her. This fish has no self-respect.”

“Going to a supermarket, Monisha pleads for free cilantro.”

“Monisha bete, please wash your hands after cleaning the toilet before eating masala dosa.”

Moreover, Ratna Pathak Shah recently graced the silver screen in the film ‘Dhak Dhak’. Directed by Tarun Dudeja, this ensemble piece showcases four women, each unique in their own right, as they daringly mount bikes to undertake a journey to the Khardungla Pass, the highest motorable road in the world. The film also stars notable names such as Dia Mirza, Sanjana Sanghi, and Fatima Sana Shaikh.

In a conversation with ANI, Ratna reflected on her experience working alongside a considerably younger cast in ‘Dhak Dhak’. She expressed her admiration for the younger generation, noting how they introduce fresh and distinctive ideas, harboring a forward-looking vision that reinvigorates the filming process. Through this film, and her interactions with the cast, Ratna seems to have embarked on a continual journey of learning and exploration, one that dovetails perfectly with her lifelong commitment to her craft.

As Ratna Pathak Shah celebrates another year graced with talent and wit, fans and colleagues alike praise the artist who continues to enlighten and entertain. May her unique sparkle persist as she delves into more such roles, which not only challenge the actor within but also our very perceptions of society and life through the lens of cinema and beyond.

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