'It's frustrating, dangerous, undemocratic'
Sharmila Tagore, on protests against Censor Board decisions and more touchy topics, with Roshmila Bhattacharya.
As chief of the Censor Board you've had some sticky problems with Jodhaa-Akbar, with the film being banned in several states.
I can accept the fact that Rajputs might have problems with the film, given that there's a school of thought which believes Jodhaa was Jehangir's wife and not Akbar's. If you ask me that shouldn't be an issue. The film isn't a history lesson but more a work of fiction. And it wasn't just Rajasthan. The film was banned in states like U P and M P too.
We've faced the same problems with Traffic Signal, Da Vinci Code and Aaja Nachle. There was even a PIL against Paheli. It's frustrating, dangerous and undemocratic. Such litigations have become an every day issue.
They are a waste of public money and should not be admitted in court. Once the Censor Board has passed a film, the states cannot ban it. If that doesn't work with them, the government should decentralise film certification.
Apparently, you're planning to amend the 1952 Censor Act?
The new guidelines are waiting to be presented. The minister has to find time. If he approves of them, they'll be put to vote in Parliament. Once they're passed by the policy makers of the country, the state MPs should not be allowed to stop screenings.
Will TV and music videos also come under the Censor Board's purview?
Music videos will but not TV. There is a Cable Act that urges self-regulation for TV producers and broadcasters. Unfortunately due to the need to hike up TRPs, it exists on paper only.
What's your take on the India Premier League?
It'll mean more 20-20 matches and more tussles for the remote between couples, unless they invest in a second TV. With matches played between 7 pm and 11 pm, prime time shows will also be hit. Films too, but not the good ones. And half our film stars will be on the field. The good news is that the IPL season only lasts for two months.
Will your husband Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi also get drawn in?
He's involved with the Cricket Control Board. Now that there are people there whom he likes and respects, he's accepted certain administrative responsibilities.
There's been a lot of talk about Saif and Kareena and Soha and Sidharth. Does that bother you?
Why should it? I had my share of gossip too and took it in my stride. Live and let live, that's my mantra. My children are no longer young to need looking after. They're capable of leading their own lives and looking out for themselves.
You must have received several offers to play Saif's mom.
Not really. In
I died when the child was very young, so I didn't get to interact with Saif. And I cringe whenever anyone mentions Eklavvya.. that was hardly a role. It would be nice to do a film with Saif but not necessarily as his mother.
Perhaps he'll cast you in his home production.
If the role demands Sharmila Tagore, he will. But there's no
to employ me. (Laughs) I'll have to pass the audition first. Also, I think initially he may not want to mix business and family. Once he's more settled and confident, he could do that.
You've played mum to several stars from John Abraham to Akshay Kumar. Which one comes closest to Saif Ali Khan?
(Laughs) Oh, Saif 's unique. I've been treated with a lot more reverence by the other boys as compared to my own son. But I guess other people's children are always more polite than your own.
Going by the stills circulated, you're looking really glam as Akshay Kumar's mother in Nagesh Kukunoor's
8 X 10.
I'm playing an NRI who has lived in Canada for years. In winter you won't see a woman draped in a sari there. She'll be warm in trousers and a fleecy jacket. The look is dictated by the setting, not by glamour.
Okay tell me, what are you doing in 8 X 10 ?
I'm doing the film mainly for Nagesh. I'd loved his Iqbal and Dor, though this film is nothing like those two.
I enjoy working with young directors. I'd love to work with Vishal Bharadwaj, Rakeysh Mehra, Imtiaz Ali and Anurag Bose. Anurag did approach me for Metro but I was in a rush to leave for England and the role went to Nafisa Ali.
The first schedule of 8 X 10 in Canada went haywire and now, we're told, an upset Akshay is being difficult with dates.
There were some problems with visas and permissions. We lost a few days. Now Nagesh wants a chunk of dates.
He'll have to wait because Akshay has commitments with other producers like Nikhil Advani. But when we shot at Kamalistan Studio recently, I didn't notice any tension between them.
Don't you try and avoid mum roles, which are usually brief?
If anyone were to make a film revolving around me, he'd be in deep trouble, unless it's a Jahnu Barua, who has his backers in place.
I'm doing his Homing Pigeon which revolves around an Indian family and an English girl. It's an interesting role.. deep, peaceful, suits my age and the character is a little like me.
Any other offers?
There are two films, probably English-Bengali bilinguals, with Soumitra Chatterjee, which will be shot in England.