Pavithra wrote on 11 Aug 2008
Seema Biswas was born on January 14, 1965 in Guwahati, Assam to Jagdish and Meera Biswas. Her first source of influence in life was her mother, a history teacher and a revolutionary figure for the female theatre artists then and this brought Seema into contact with artists such as Bhupen Hazarika, Phani Sarma and Bishnuprasadh Rabha very early. She studied Political Science at Nalbari College and later joined the National School of Drama at New Delhi.
She finished her studies at NSD in 1984 and went on to work with the NSD Repertory Company. It was here that Shekhar Kapur witnessed her performance in Khubsurath Bahu and offered her the role from Bandit Queen(1996). This role gave her the big break through into the Hindi Cinema, though she had already acted in an Assamese movie before. Rooted firmly in theatre, she refuses to be typecast, and have worked in a variety of films and character roles. She has also worked in a number of Malayalam, and a Tamil film. Following Bandit Queen and Khamoshi, all the roles she was offered were either those of aggressive rebels or the heroine’s mother. She went back to theatre, after not being able to find many meaningful roles in Cinema. Being a very choosy person when it comes to roles in fimls, Seema rarely took up any common roles at all. After her role and Phoolan Devi in Shekar Kapoor’s movie Bandit Queen (1994) the next film she acted after a gap was Khamoshi. Her consequent movies all followed the same pattern with Hazaar Chaurasi Ki Maa in 1998 and so on. Her prominence in her performances after Bandit Queen stood out in the role as a maid in `Bhoot,' a cop in `Ek Hasina Thi' and as a nun in `Kaya Taran.' She continues to make her presence felt with roles of substance, including the one in Deepa Mehta's `Water.' Seema, who enacted the character that was initially earmarked for Shabana Azmi, plays a no-nonsense widow, Shakunthala, who befriends an eight-year-old child widow who is brought to their ashram. In recent times, in an aberration of sorts, Biswas, who is more associated with meaningful movies, was seen acting in Sooraj Barjatya’s Vivah, a film that despite its regressive subject turned out to be 2006’s sleeper hit in India. She has also worked on a couple of Malayalam movies like Shantam(2000) and Bheebalsa by Jayaraaj and as a bad cop in the Tamil movie called Thalaimagan, a RADAAN production.
Biswas won the 1996 National Film Award for Best Actress for her role in the film. She has a reputation for performing strong character roles. She won the Star screen Award for the Best Actress in a Supporting Role for Khamoshi: The musica(1996) and was nominated for the same consecutively. She won the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 2001. In 2006, she won the Best Actress Genie Award for her role as Shakuntala in Deepa Mehta's Water (2005).