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‘I don’t like the word comeback because I’d never gone away’

Veteran actress Sharmila Tagore talks about her children, film certification and 50 years in cinema. in conversation with Roshmila Bhattacharya.

entertainment Updated: Apr 01, 2009 14:10 IST
Roshmila Bhattacharya
Roshmila Bhattacharya
Hindustan Times

Sharmila Tagore talks about her children, film certification and 50 years in cinema. in conversation with Roshmila Bhattacharya.

8X 10 Tasveer is a supernatural thriller. Have you ever been surprised by anything out-of-the-ordinary?

There have been times when some instinct has prodded me to look into my bag just as I’m setting out for the airport, and I’ve discovered that I’d forgotten my passport.

I’m not scared of ghosts.. I can live alone anywhere. But I’m sensitive to auras. I believe that those who loves hover around even after they’re gone, looking out for us.<b1>

The film was initially titled


but the name was believed to be jinxed.

Really? It must be a numerological issue. Or may be it was because the release was pushed back by a year following a messed up first schedule in Canada. Visas were delayed and consequently, permission to shoot at certain locations lapsed.

Akshay’s (Kumar) dates were wasted and since he was already committed to other producers, we had to wait.

8 x 10 Tasveer

is more contemporary, it works better.

Apparently Akshay Kumar has been giving the unit a lot of trouble.

On the contrary, he’s a pro who’s clocked overtime to complete the film. He’s never late, knows all his lines, never gives retakes and packs in a lot of work in a day. (Smiles) He would affectionately call me amma and reminded that we had worked in


even though we didn’t have scenes together. He’s very courteous.. and mischievous too, cracking jokes all the time.

Did Akshay remind you of Saif?

(Laughs) Saif’s unique, there’s no one like him. But I like all the boys I’ve acted with.. Akshay, John (Abraham), Aamir (Khan), who’s always been a favourite.

You were upset that Ghajini was given a ‘U/A’ certificate.

I felt it was a little too violent even though it was basically a love story. But my regional officers are very savvy. And ‘U/A’ isn’t a ‘U’ certificate. Children can see the film but under parental guidance.

(Sighs) It’s another story that most of them see it without their elders. I’ve even had parents cribbing that they couldn’t take their




. I had to point out that children weren’t supposed to see an ‘A’ film. <b2>

If they can’t go to the theatre, they bring home a VCD or DVD. Hasn’t certification for home viewing become necessary?

We are not here to police people.. go into their homes. It’s their responsibility how they bring up their children. But I’d like promos and posters to carry the certification along with a line saying that a film has scenes of explicit sex or graphic violence. That will make the audience more aware.

What’s your take on the on-going tussle between producers-distributors and exhibitors over profit sharing? It may prevent your film from being screened at multiplexes.

I think long-neglected issues have come to a head. We have good negotiators on both sides. They’ll arrive at a consensus.

Saif, as a soon-to-be-producer, seems very concerned.

Smiles) Saif has evolved. Kareena (Kapoor) has given him stability. She’s a nice girl.. level-headed, calm and non-judgemental!

Have you see his first home production,

Love Aaj Kal


Parts of it. Imtiaz (Ali) is a wonderful director and Saif as a sardar is so cute that now when I see a sardar I have a smile on my face.

Saif was pretty upset Kareena couldn’t be in the film.

Their chemistry is good, you can see that in the ads they do. But casting is a director’s prerogative.

Deepika (Padukone) is very good. Filmmaking is a business proposition and you can’t get emotional about it.

Now that you’ve made a comeback..

(Interrupts) I don’t like the word comeback because I’d never gone away. I did


after I got married,

Amar Prem

after I had Saif,


after Saba came along and


after Soha was born.

You could do more films now.

At my age I’m not inundated with offers. And I don’t want to work 9 to 5, 24 x 7. I did

8 x 10 Tasveer

because I had loved Nagesh’s (Kukunoor)




. Also, Girish (Karnad), Benjy (Benjamin Gillani) and Anant (Mahadevan) are old friends. We had a blast in South Africa.

You turned down


opposite Dharmendra recently.

The last year has been really busy. I’ve been neglecting my home, my husband’s fed up and I’m tired. Dharam


spoke to me but I needed a break from work. May be next winter, if something interesting comes along, I’ll do it.

You aren’t doing

Gahnar Baksha


Jewellery Box

) either?

I was to play an elderly woman but Aparna Sen felt I would look too sophisticated. I completed Amol Palekar’s Marathi film


recently in which I play a recluse. He is a sensitive director, it has great music and was shot in Kolkata.

Did being back in Kolkata bring back memories of your first film,

Apur Sansar..

it’s been 50 years?

There are so many memories.. of Manikda (Satyajit Ray), Basuda (Bhattacharya), Asitda (Sen).. I’m glad I was accepted beyond glamorous roles.. otherwise I’d have been long gone. If needed, I’d have quit willingly, but life’s been good. I didn’t have to put my career on hold.

Saif hasn’t seen



Amar Prem

because he didn’t like to see his mother cry, but says he will now.. it could give him a few ideas.

(Laughing) For my children I’ll always be amma, never an actress. Those films are dated. He needs to go forward but it wouldn’t hurt to see them and understand the cinema of the past.

When I was doing

Abar Aranyer

, Shubhendu (Chatterjee), Soumitra (Chatterjee) and I had long conversations. It amazed me how much they knew about cinema. They should have been recorded. Hindi cinema is also the legacy of Ashok Kumar, Dilip Kumar, Mehboob Khan and Manikda. We can’t let them be forgotten.

Soumitra Chatterjee finally bagged a National Award for Best Actor after all these years for Padokhep but says it isn’t his best performance.

It isn’t. But when the jury sits across the table, deals are struck. In an effort to appease everyone, winners are selected from the north, south, east and west.

In the process, Bengal has sometimes been sidelined. Soumitra got the Padma Bhushan before he got the National Award. Yet, he still came to receive it personally.. I might not have.

Soha’s said to be dating Kunal Kemmu.

I don’t want to comment on this. She says he’s a good friend, period.

Several of Soha’s films have been critically acclaimed but she hasn’t had any big commercial successes.

It takes time to get into the A-list and even the usual formula films haven’t done well of late. Soha’s happy to be working with cerebral and fun people. Right now, she’s really excited about

Tum Mile

set against the Mumbai floods.

She was on the road on 26/7, after her car broke down, from 4 pm to 2 am.. and she was wearing a dress. Finally, she managed to contact a friend who took her to another friend’s home and she spent the night with strangers. Saif took her home only the next day.

We haven’t spoken about the incident in detail but I know she was terrified. She had to relive the trauma again when they shot underwater for a month. It reeked, yuck! I couldn’t have done it.

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First Published: Apr 01, 2009 13:49 IST