Unlike the rest of the world, popular actor Shagufta Ali says she has been under "lockdown" for the last four years, battling depleting finances due to poor health and struggling to find work in an industry to which she has dedicated over three decades of her life.
Ali was diagnosed with diabetes six years ago, around the same time when the roles started drying up.
The 54-year-old actor said she has been out of work since 2018. Her last acting role was a cameo in the show "Bepannaah".
She initially tried to manage the situation on her own by selling off her car and jewellery to pay mounting medical expenses, but has now reached out to the industry publicly as she was left with no other option.
Recently, Ali was called on the reality show “Dance Deewane 3”, where she received a financial aid of Rs 5 lakh from Madhuri Dixit on behalf of the makers.
A tear-eyed Shagufta said, "The last 32 years among the 36 years have been wonderful. I struggled a lot, worked a great deal too, supported my family and myself. But four years ago, several auditions took place, a lot of things happened but nothing was working out. During that time, the problem with my leg increased because of diabetes, which also affected my eyes. I don't know why but I couldn't tolerate the pain of these four years. The industry is my home, I have given 36 years to it."
Madhuri then came on stage and consoled Shagufta by stating, "You had written that you have nothing to even sell right now. You have reached such a stage today, so from the ‘Dance Deewane’ team, we would like to do something for you. From them, I would like to give you a cheque of Rs 5 lakh."
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"It's a long treatment and an expensive one, for which I was facing financial troubles. So I finally opened up to friends in the industry, asking for help because I was unable to carry on without support," Ali told PTI.
"The pandemic has been difficult for everyone but I have been going through a lockdown for the past four years," she added.
The actor said she has received aid from some of her colleagues from the industry, including "Sarabhai Vs Sarabhai" star Sumeet Raghavan, "Savdhaan India" host Sushant Singh and Neena Gupta, her co-star and director of "Saans".
Ali started her career in the late 1980s with appearances in '90s films like "Hero No 1", "Mehndi", and "Sirf Tum". She gained recognition with Gupta's 1998 show "Saans", on which she played her sister-in-law Shakutala Suri.
The actor went on to star on shows like the medical drama "Sanjivani", "Woh Rehne Waali Mehlon Ki" and "Sasural Simar Ka" among others.
Also, a cancer survivor, Ali said her career of more than three decades has been plagued by constant health issues. She was diagnosed with stage three breast cancer 20 years ago, while she was shooting for "Saans".