SHARMILA AND SOHA REMEMBER “TIGER” FONDLY AT DOON LIT FEST
Monday, 13 August 2018 | JASKIRAN CHOPRA | Dehradun–
After the grand success of the “Mystic Meets Legend” session at the Dehradun Literature Festival on August 9, another session that proved a great crowd-puller was that of Sharmila Tagore and her daughter Soha Ali Khan. There was a moderator but what emerged was more like an interaction between the mother and daughter.
The audience was quite fascinated–the young ones in the audience by Soha and the older ones by Sharmila, the legendary actress of Hindi cinema who gave us such wonderful classic films in the 1960s and 1970s. There were many things she recalled during the session. However, the most interesting story she shared about Tiger Pataudi, her late husband and the heartthrob of millions, had a touch of fine humour and naughtiness. She said that when she had first met Tiger, she came to know about his love for Urdu and Urdu poetry. “My Urdu was not too good. He used to listen to ghazals by Begum Akhtar and Talat Mehmood. I decided to improve my Urdu. However, one day he said that he had written something for me. I was very happy and when I went to the sets where I was shooting with Feroz Khan for the film Safar, I shared this with Feroz Khan. When he got to know that the ghazal Pataudi had written for me was Dil e Nadaan tujhe hua kya hai, he said–“Stupid Girl! This is Mirza Ghalib!”
When first asked about her memories of her husband, Sharmila turned emotional and said that when she was asked about this at any public event, she seemed to “freeze”.
Soha remembered her father and told the audience that he was “a breed apart”. She said that she was always in awe of the fact that a man loved so much by the world had loved her and taught her things by example. “Never once did I hear him raise his voice. His fighting spirit was just great.” She recalled an incident where she had gone with her parents to her graduation ceremony at Oxford, where her father had also studied. “I was wearing a saree and stilettos .They stopped me and said I could not go in as I was not wearing black stockings which it was compulsory to wear. I was very upset but then my father took off his black woolly socks and gave them to me. This was how I could be part of the ceremony!”
Soha has written about all this in her book “The Perils of Being Moderately famous” that was released on the occasion.
Sharmila talked about the times when she was very active in films-1960s and 1970s. She spoke about the “escapist films” that were made after the Chinese aggression. “That is when my debut film Kashmir Ki Kali also came. There was a lot of fun and make-believe. They had their own beauty”. She also mentioned meaningful, serious films like Bandini, Anupama, Safar, Guide and Satyakam.
She said that elderly actresses should also get roles like the ones which elder actors get. She gave the example of roles being done by Amitabh Bachchan and Rishi Kapoor these days.
She said that films like Raazi, Mulk and Bahubali had made these times very interesting and “fantastic”.
She said that the variety of genres and the comfort which was now enjoyed by actors and actresses, along with the huge sums of money they were being paid, had made this a wonderful time.”When we were working, the make-up rooms were pretty bad. Studios were not air conditioned and there was so much humidity. There were these big fans which we did not want to use as our hair began to fly!”
Speaking about Satyajit Ray who introduced her to films in Apur Sansar, Sharmila said that he was a “man of ideas who did not belong to the world of commerce”.
She said today, money was too important for people. “I am glad we grew up in those times and could get such good values.”
The session brought to light many a dimension of the lives of the Pataudi family in a warm and spontaneous manner. It was a memorable session of the Dehradun Literature Festival on its closing day.