It's cinema that brought her fame and fortune, but veteran actress Sharmila Tagore is enjoying her small screen stint - as a judge on reality show Dhoom Macha De - because she can be herself in front of the camera.
"Reality shows allow one to project oneself on screen and it is very different from being in films. Here, I don't have anyone to write my lines and I can be myself in front of the camera," Sharmila told IANS in a telephonic interview.
Sharmila, who is also the censor board chairperson, doesn't want to do daily soaps but admits that reality TV attracts her. She also enjoys the company of her fellow judges - composer-singer Shankar Mahadevan and lyricist Prasoon Joshi. The show is aired on NDTV Imagine.
"It is a good experience for me as the show is about commercial entertainment. Also, I gel well with Shankar and Prasoon."
Commenting on the burgeoning growth of the Indian entertainment industry, she said: "The Indian film industry is blessed. Indians all across the world support our industry."
A report published by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) states that the Rs.513-billion Indian entertainment and media (E&M) industry is poised to grow at an annual rate of 16.7 percent by 2011, faster than its counterparts in Brazil, Russia and China.
Agreed Sharmila: "It is flourishing like never before and we are gradually building an international market for us. Even international players like the Warner Brothers are interested in the Indian market."
The actress also has a positive outlook towards corporatisation of Bollywood. She feels money is a lot more organised now in the industry.
"Earlier, only the films made by B.R. Chopra and Raj Kapoor used to finish on time. But these days, almost all filmmakers are able to complete and release their movies according to their schedule," she said.
Regarding the information and broadcasting ministry's proposal that TV serials and advertisements should get approval from the censor board, the actor agreed saying that a certain amount of censorship must be exercised.
"If we have one common umbrella, with one common objective, it becomes better and easier. But with the current state of infrastructure, it is difficult to deal with such a situation."
Sharmila was recently conferred the lifetime achievement award at the 6th Pune International Film Festival (PIFF) along with Shammi Kapoor, with whom she debuted in Kashmir Ki Kali.
Apart from films, she is also involved in social work. She got associated with Unicef India as a goodwill ambassador to help fight AIDS in the country. She also lent her support to the NGO Child Rights and You (CRY) by signing a Girl Child Rights Charter.
"It is a very rewarding experience for me. It is my humble effort to give back the love I got over the years. Children often become victims for no reason. We must help them, save them and give them all their rights," she said.
One of the reigning queens of the late 1960s and 70s, Sharmila is satisfied with the way her children's acting careers are shaping up. She is happy that both Saif Ali Khan and Soha Ali Khan have carved a niche for themselves in the Hindi film industry.
"It makes no difference to me whether they are number one or number 16 as long as they are self-sufficient. We are all a part of this industry because we love it. And just being a part of the industry is in itself very rewarding," said the seasoned actress who gave hits like Aradhana, Daag and Chupke Chupke in the 1970s.
Talking about her future projects, she stated: "I believe in doing just one thing at a time. The present project (Dhoom Macha De) might continue till May. After that, I will think over a few projects. I might just choose one."