Saif Ali Khan getting a Padma Shri didn't go down too well with some critics and film buffs but his proud mother Sharmila Tagore thinks the prestigious award will make Saif evaluate his worth and help him live up to people's expectations.
"This kind of a recognition encourages an artiste to better himself. Even if you lead a relatively carefree life, a Padma award makes you sit up and say, 'Hey, I've to live up to this. It isn't a film award I'm getting here. The government is recognising my efforts, and I better live up to expectations'," Sharmila told IANS.
"The Padma Shri will make Saif evaluate his worth and make him think of what the country expects from him. I think it's a great pat on the back," she added.
Like any other mother, Sharmila too admits she likes her son's acting skills and that she is waiting for his next venture. "I've become fond of Saif as an actor. And I look forward to seeing what he does next.
Speaking of awards and recognition in general, Sharmila said: "The National Awards must have their own identity free of a Bollywood domination. It's very important for regional cinema to get its recognition. Now that Antaheen has won the National Award for Best Film, it will get a renewed shelf life. Such recognition means a lot to regional filmmakers.
"You know when Manik-da (Satyajit Ray) made his first film 'Pather Panchali', he had to pawn his wife's jewellery. Nothing has changed, really. Even today a regional film is made on a meagre budget..."
Sharmila feels she got more recognition as an actress from regional cinema than Hindi movies. "Barring Mausam for which I got the National Award, most of my recognition has come from Bengali cinema. Even now Bengali film 'Antaheen', in which I play a cameo, got the National Award. I got a lot of opportunities to work in wonderful Hindi films like Anupama, Aavishkar and Grihapravesh. Definitely, these were forward-looking films...having said that the regional cinema has so much longevity."
The actress said she chooses her films carefully nowadays. "Maybe one film at a time. Otherwise I get tired. Getting things done through the ministry as the chairperson of the censor board is not easy. Also, my work with Unicef and other organisations gives me more satisfaction...All this is a strain on the 24 hours. I also like travelling."
Asked about her work in cinema being recognised, Sharmila said: "My self-worth doesn't come from what other people say about me. Recognition or the lack of it doesn't run or ruin my life...It's enough that some people like me. I know I'm not in the same league as Amitabh Bachchan and Shah Rukh Khan. But when I walk into a room I only feel good vibes.
"My fulfilment comes not from awards but from watching the peacocks frolicking in my garden in Pataudi. Not that I don't take my work as an actor seriously. I do. Earlier when I didn't like an end product, I dissociated myself from that film. Nowadays you are contract-bound to promote a film even if you don't like it. I find that kind of enforced professionalism to be restricting."