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The legendary actress Sharmila Tagore Speaks To Subhash K Jha On Her Birthday

 Sharmila Tagore speakes on her husband, son Saif, grand-daughter Saira  and of course superstar-grandson  Taimur.

Sharmilaji what are  you doing this birthday?

Not very much, I’m afraid . Some friends will drop in. Soha is coming.The  other children Sabaa and Saif will also come if  they can. Let’s see.

The one thing that has changed  for you in  the past one  year is  the  presence  of two beautiful grandchildren?

Yes, it certainly adds to my happiness , obviously. I do see them as  much as I can. But not enough because we  live  in different  cities. But I must say they re-energize me. There’s nothing like young children’s energy …They are always curious, and  enthusiastic about many different  things. So yes, being around Taimur and Inaaya makes me really happy. Though like I said , I wish  I could be with them more often.

You were  quite a phenomenal  combination  of  mother and actress  in your heydays? During  the shooting  of Aradhana you  were pregnant with Saif…

I don’t think  I was  pregnant  during Aradhana.But yes, during Safar  and Choti Bahu I was  pregnant  and  quite unwell in  the last phase  of my  pregnancy. Then  during Besharam  I was  pregnant  with Sabaa.

You now  have more time for  your grandchildren than you  ever did for   your children?

 Yes  that’s true. I do   have lots  more time  for  my  grandchildren,the kind of  pressures on time that I  tackled earlier are no more there  though I do keep myself busy with professional commitments  like the random ad here and a cinema conference  there. But definitely  I now have  more  time  for not just my grandchildren but also my children.I have more time for  our ancestral home in Pataudi also.

Are  you still keen on a  bio-pic on   your husband the Nawab of Pataudi?

Well,  it will depend on who the captains  of  the ship are , the producers and  director. It is a good story, I  think,  with all  the twists and  the turns  in his life….father’s death, losing his  eye after which his average came down from 60 to 30.To  receive such a   blow at such a  young age….I don’t think anyone else has been able to make those adjustments and  that kind of  an impact with one  eye. He  not only batted but also fielded after the  eye accident.I think he was a wonderful sportsperson. God knows, what he’d have achieved if he had  both his eyes.

We never  thought of his as being visually impaired at all?

That’s  because he had a wonderful temperament. He  absorbed that loss and  moved ahead.Tiger’s life was  filled with  losses, his father, his eye ,his privy purse…In her book Soha  has written so well about her father.

Any man who wins you  over has to be special?

(laughs) I don’t  know  about that. But I learnt  so much from  him.I do miss him immensely. I  wish he was here for me . So many of my friends are still together with their soul mates.  You see  your friends celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary…But it was  not meant to be (for me). So what can I do?

But you have a   lot to be thankful  for?

Oh yes!   I do practice  active gratitude. In my thoughts, actions words I am deeply grateful  for what life has given me.

Would you like Saif to play Pataudi Saab?

No, let them(the filmmakers) decide. Maybe Saif can  be in one phase  of the story. His story has so  many  phases. Even a good documentary is a  good idea. Unfortunately there  isn’t too much footage on  Tiger  available.

Sharmilaji there  is a lot  of  talk about women’s safety going on in our society. What made you so strong independent  and non-vulnerable in your heydays?

Probably my family background.We’ve always  had very strong women in my family.  Also , I had the selfconfidence. I wasn’t career-oriented. I liked the work and I enjoyed it. But I had other  interests. I had a strong sense of self derived  from my  family,and perhaps that kept me from harm’s way. Also, I had a very protective hairdresser Neena who always checked  my  behaviour. She was always saying, ‘Why are you doing this…Why are talking so loudly?’ etc , Neena was my constant companion at  outdoor shootings. She  also gave me a lot  of objective perspective .

How  do you feel about the way  the MeToo movement  is going?

I don’t want to comment on it. I don’t see how my two-bit can contribute to the discussion.  I followed a  bit of  it… But I  don’t know… Of course I’ve always supported the feminist  movement . But this naming and shaming …I really don’t know.

Sharmilaji we cannot possibly  wrap up this  interview without …

(interrupts) Without talking about Sara? Yes, I am so excited  about her debut(in  the  film Kedarnath). I am very impressed by her… though I don’t see why her self confidence should surprise me. But whether  it was Koffee With Karan,Rajeev Masand, BBC…her confidence  humility and charm made me  so happy ….it’s so heartwarming to see her  the way she  has turned  out. When asked what she’s doing in films  after going to Columbia University she said the education was for her growth as a person  and not for career. She’s never tongue-tied. And how well she  stood up for her father  on Karan Johar’s show  I am really  proud of her.

Finally Sharmilaji, your grandson…the biggest Khan superstar Taimur?

(laughs) I must confess I’m worried  about  him a bit. We in this family have all had our share  of media attention. They  place  you on a  pedestal and then suddenly drop you. At the moment Taimur is not affected because he’s too young to understand  what’s going on. But later when he’s older and if the attention is taken away he  might get affected. So we are a little concerned . But as Sara said, what can we  do about it?Frankly  without the media we are  not alive  in today’s day and age.

Taimur fields the media better than all of you?

(laughs) He’s innocent and he’s young…Let’s hope he won’t be  adversely affected. I’d like to request the  media to be a bit more sensitive  to him.Otherwise what can we do?

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