Bollywood Legends - Sharmila Tagore
Sharmila Tagore is undeniably the Bengal tigress. Millions of hearts were stolen right away when she appeared in her first film what with her glorious dimples and sassy smile.
Her repertoire includes a wide range of histrionics from being a sex symbol to a sophisticated stylish icon to a National award winner.
She debuted in the hindi film industry after being cast as an incarnation of Goddess Kali in the Satyajit Ray film Devi and in Apur Sansar. According to her those films were just an offhand chance and she acted in them out of sheer curiosity.
Sharmila began her career in Bollywood with a romantic musical, Kashmir Ki Kali, 1964, opposite Shammi Kapoor, directed by the famous director Shakti Samantha.
In 1966 she took up the titular role of Anupama in the Hrishikesh Mukherjee's film. Though she sported a stylised bouffant, she vowed everyone as the simple, shy and soft-spoken girl.
She jolted everyone in 1967 and went on to become one of the most hottest and glamorous actress of hertimes after she acted in a double role in An Evening in Paris. Millions went ga-ga over coquettish expressions in the song Akele Akele Kahan Ja rahe ho.
That movie sort of catapulted her as a trendsetter. All the women began copying her style of knotty blouses, style of hair and makeup esp those long eyelashes and the curvy dresses.
And then she had to appear on a magazine cover cald in a two-piece bikini! And was she in a storm of controversy. About that she says, "Looking back, I realize I was very different from the other actresses of my time. My behaviour was grossly misinterpreted. I'd wear clothes that were not suitable. I was accused of being snooty and arrogant, which I was not. I didn't know that one was expected to lead a certain lifestyle."
In 1968, she got married to the Nawab of Pataudi, the former Indian Captain Mansoor Ali Khan much to the disappointment of her fans. She converted to Islam and took on the name of Ayesha Sultana. She proved her detractors wrong who were sure that this marriage wont work if she were to continue acting in films. In fact her best performances were after she married and she did not keep away from the tinsel town for long.
She was back with a bang in the smash hit Aradhana with Rajesh Khanna released in 1969.In tow with director Shakthi Samantha , she went in for a complete change of image in this movie as a total deglamorised mother.
Rajesh Khanna and Sharmila were declared a hit pair and they went on to give many more super duper films like Safar, Amar Prem, Daag and the artistically acclaimed Aavishkar. There was much speculation about the rivalry between her and Raakhee while they were shooting the film Daag.
In Aavishkar, her character again mostly relied on her talent with minimum makeup, no wigs and she very ably matched Rajesh Khanna as she alternated between bouts of anger and remorse as the wife struggling to save her marriage.
In between these schedules she also gave birth to her first child Saif Ali Khan who is now a star in his own right.
The year 1975 saw Sharmila as the obscenity-spewing whore in the film Mausam, again a dual role, opposite Sanjeev Kumar directed by Gulzar. This movie also garnered her the coveted National Award. Her other movies with Sanjeev Kumar include Charitraheen, GrihaPravesh and Namkeen.
She moved to Delhi after Mausam and also had two daughters Soha and Saba.
Sharmila has also been paired with other stars like Shashi Kapoor (Aa Gale Lag Ja, Waqt, Aamne Saamne, Suhana Safar) Dharmendra (Devar, Chupke Chupke, Satyakaam and ofcourse Anupama) and the superstar Amitabh Bachchan (Faraar, Besharam and Desh Premee) but these pairs did not create as much an impact.
Settling down in Delhi, she would return to Bombay once in a while to do an occasional film like New Delhi Times and Namkeen which was directed by one of her favourite director Gulzar.
In recent times she was seen in Mann, 1999 and Dhadkan, 2000, but was a huge disappointment to her fans in not-so-well etched characters.
Nowadays, Sharmila is shooting with Raakhee, supposedly her one-time arch rival, for Shubha Muhurat, a Bengali film directed by Rituparno Ghosh.
It seems like nothing has changed for Sharmila and time has stood still on the beautiful Sharmila. She still is as stylish and elegant as ever and those dimples have deepened.