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Prince and the showbiz star

December 27, 1968... The Christmas tinsel was still sparkling bright… The strung-up mistletoe invited stolen kisses... The bells of St. Paul’s Cathedral jingled merrily... And Mansoor Ali Khan, the Nawab of Pataudi, married Sharmila, the great grand niece of Rabindranath Tagore, in her hometown Kolkata.

entertainment Updated: Jul 15, 2012 14:14 IST
Roshmila Bhattacharya

December 27, 1968... The Christmas tinsel was still sparkling bright… The strung-up mistletoe invited stolen kisses... The bells of St. Paul’s Cathedral jingled merrily... And Mansoor Ali Khan, the Nawab of Pataudi, married Sharmila, the great grand niece of Rabindranath Tagore, in her hometown Kolkata.



It seemed right that they would begin their life together in the City of Joy because it was here that India’s cricketing hero first met Satyajit Ray’s Devi and Shakti Samanta’s Kashmir Ki Kali at a party. Was he bowled over at first sight? No, according to press reports from the time, he was polite, but didn’t appear too interested in the dimpled beauty and they barely spoke.



Another party, this one in Mumbai, cracked the ice some more. This time they reportedly discussed the weather! And deciding he could talk about the Celsius a little more, Tiger, as the dashing Nawab was fondly known after he nailed his first wild cat at the age of 11, called her. She wasn’t in and the maid who took his call forgot to pass on the message.



1965... A love story

More missed calls followed... Sometimes he wasn’t home, sometimes she wasn’t. Finally, one morning, at breakfast, the maid remembered to tell Sharmila that a

nawab

had called.



Tiger had just returned from England after a season with Sussex. She invited him over. Their romance bloomed against the backdrop of the Indo-Pak war of ’65.



The press soon got a whiff; questions were followed by a string of ‘yes’, ‘no’, ‘maybe’. No one was quite sure. So when the cricketer turned up in the French capital when Sharmila was filming An Evening In Paris there, Shakti Samanta’s unit was shocked, more so because after ‘pack-up’ the two were never

akela

. The rumours grew wilder till the much-in-love couple returned home and announced their engagement, followed by the Christmas wedding.



Cut to 2012… Saif Ali Khan’s just-released Cocktail has got off to a flying start, but it’s not his reel life darlings, Deepika Padukone and Diana Penty, who are the subject of dinner table conversations. What everyone wants to know is when the new nawab will marry Kareena.



Speculation has been rife since 2007 when they walked in together for designer-friend Manish Malhotra’s show at the Lakme Fashion Week. And while leaving, Saif responded to queries with, “For the time being, all I’m comfortable with saying is that we are together. I think the media is giving too much attention to this. Kareena and I are here and are happy with each other, but we are not exactly shouting from the rooftops.”



Five years, not out

Like with his parents, the media gave Saif and Kareena one season of love, six months at the most. They’ve been together almost five years. Last June, a city paper insisted they were on the verge of a split caused by Kareena’s round-the-clock schedule that left Saif feeling “neglected”.



The story was played out on all the channels, cracks splitting the TV screen. Saif was in London, neck-deep in Cocktail and livid when I buzzed him late one evening. Deviating from his rule of never bringing personal equations into professional discussions, he pointed out that despite their hectic careers, all was well. “In fact, it’s never been better, Kareena and I are extremely close and looking forward to a bright future together,” he asserted.



The cracks on the TV screen haven’t reappeared. Today, everyone’s talking about the wedding. Will Kareena wear Sharmila’s

sharara

? Will it be a Bollywood gala or a quiet family affair? Will it be in October or December? Who cares! What I want to see is another prince, this one part of showbiz, walking away with a star to live happily ever after.