With a variety of roles under her belt, Sharmila Tagore now takes the next step: a film in a language she does not know.
What happens when Bollywood denizens are asked to speak in Marathi to promote their films, thanks to politicians in Maharashtra? Ask Amol Palekar, who has the knack of casting non-Marathi speaking people in his Marathi movies — be it Seema Biswas, Deepti Naval, Anant Nag and now Sharmila Tagore in “Samantar”. Sharmila Tagore who made her debut with regional cinema in the form of the Satyajit Ray’s “Apur Sansar” before moving to Bollywood with Shakti Samantia’s “Kashmir Ki Kali”. We grabbed a quick interview with the actor.
Why a Marathi film?I was apprehensive about the language as I was not sure about the pronunciation. But Amol convinced me that I would be able to do it, so I decided to go ahead. Honestly, I have been apprehensive because I do fear the response of the audience. I am used to speaking in Hindi, English and my mother tongue Bengali. However, since I have lived in Mumbai for a long time, I have heard the language being spoken and that was finally why I opted for the film. But what happens is, unless one masters the language, you tend to go wrong grammatically. Marathi is a very rich language. Nonetheless Amol and I share a good rapport and I trusted his abilities and decided to go ahead.
How did you finally manage the right accent and diction?Being in the profession for so many years, no language is tough to begin with. The assistant directors and Amol himself worked with me on the diction and enabled me perform with depth and dignity. For me, it is important to be able to carry off every role with a lot of dignity and élan. And it would look ridiculous for someone like me who has spent such a long time in the film industry to not be able to perform well. It would not have justified my existence as an actor. Thankfully the role suited me and we got it right to begin with. Now I need to wait and see how the audience reacts to the film and my performance.
You seem to be a reluctant actor today, seen only in a few films? Are you tense about audience response?I’m a very insecure actor. I am always on the lookout for audience reactions. Also I am not the kind who is satisfied with my performance. And also I am never satisfied with what I have put forth. I always feel that, if I had got one more take, I would have given a better shot. But alas! Amol was always happy with my performances and rarely allowed me another take. I remember one scene where I got stuck and Amol gave me many takes.
How has your relationship been with Amol Palekar over the years?Amol and I have come together for old times’ sake. We are very good friends otherwise. Amol and I have also worked together in a Bengali film. I remember, then, I was helping him out with the language though he is a bit of an expert in everything. Any kind of relationship can be carried forward only if there is a need to get it moving.
Talking of relationships, much has been written about your son’s relationship with Kareena Kapoor. Comment.I am enjoying retired life now. My children are not children anymore. They are grown-ups and know exactly what they are doing with the whole world looking at them under a microscope, thanks to the media. I would say they are mature enough to take the right decisions for themselves, professionally and personally. I don’t interfere in their lives.
So what’s next in terms of your career?Not much, I guess. I will take up only those roles that interest me. I have never much cared for awards. Satisfaction is what matters the most.
So do you think award functions have now become a lot more commercial?No, I wouldn’t say that. I have heard people allege that awards are bought these days but I don’t think that is the case. In fact, who would want to buy an award? It is like confirming that you are not good enough and unworthy of the award. It’s not right to even think of buying an award.
Finally, how have you managed to stay so fit over the years?(Smiles) Well! To tell you the truth, I have never really followed any strict diet regime. I do a little bit of exercise but that’s about it.