Veteran actor Sharmila Tagore, popular for her spectacular skills in Bengali and Hindi Industry, turns 73 today. Talking about her age, she says “Just like any other day. I don’t allow myself to think about my age. Fortunately, there is plenty to be done. My days are fuller than I can cope with. And I like it that way.”
When asked about her birthday plans, “Well, there is a wedding in a very close family friend’s home. I’m going to be participating on December 7 and 8. So my birthday will be merged in the nikaah ceremony of the couple.”
When asked if the cake cutting and birthday song during the nikaah,” (Laughs) No, no, none of that. I don’t believe in all that. Cakes and parties are for Taimur and Inaaya (grandchildren). I am just happy to be healthy, alive and active.”
About her acting career, she said, “This is not something peculiar to me. It happens to all actresses beyond a certain age in our cinema. Even Madhuri Dixit, who is a lot younger, has not done anything much in spite of ‘Dedh Ishqiya’. Whereras the rules are different for Mr (Amitabh) Bachchan. He has directors like Shoojit Sircar calling him ‘Sir’ and writing roles for him.”
“I mean, Mr Bachchan is definitely an icon. But the rules are different for the actresses. I believe Ribhu Dasgupta’s film ‘Te3n’ was a remake of a Korean film. The original female protagonist has been turned into a male to accommodate Mr Bachchan. Who does these things for female actors in Hindi cinema?”
“But then, on the other hand, who would go to see ‘Pink’ if Mr Bachchan didn’t play the lawyer. Cinema does reflect the reality in society. And I suppose in films they feel they cannot give a woman a role where she is so much in charge of the characters of the plot. In regional films, the rules are different though. Older female characters do get to play substantial roles.”, she talks about Big B!
“(Laughs) Indeed, he does. Dharamji has worked enough, done enough. He has earned this phase of retirement. I must tell you, Dharamji remains exceptionally popular everywhere. I was in Pheonix (US) recently. And I was asked about him everywhere. Everyone dotes on him there.”
“There is a lot of goodwill for Dharamji. The same goes for my other favourite co-star Shashi Kapoor. They’ve both done a lot for the film industry. They will leave behind a great legacy.” She speaks on sharing birthday with Dharmendra.
If she misses being on-screen, she says, “I don’t think so. I’ve never believed in being single-mindedly focused on my film career. Of course, I love acting and when I do a film, I give all of myself. But cinema is not my be-all end-all. In that sense, I am a bit of an accidental actress. I am interested in so many things. My work with the Unicef, NGOs… I like to stand up for whatever I believe in.”
Talking about her lifestyle, she says, “I have always wanted a normal life. I wanted to meet people from all walks of life even when I was working on the sets , and I made sure I did. In our times, we saw India through our work. We shot in places like Meghalaya and Kashmir where there were no 5-star hotels those days. Today’s generation doesn’t get a chance to see the real India.”
When asked that “You were regarded as quite elitist among the heroines?” she replies, “I missed talking and reading in Hindi. I was the only one who would speak in English on the sets. But now everyone speaks in English. Even the Hindi dialogues are written in English.”
“I guess our cinema has become more globalised. Most heroines are seen in gowns at award functions. Some of us still prefer the sari. I think it’s desirable to stay in touch with our roots.
When asked about Sara, she said, “Yes, Sara is all set to be an actor. How beautifully she has grown! She went to Columbia University. Now she wants to an actor. She is a clever girl.”