Saif Ali Khan“>
A leader of a factional political party feels Saif Ali Khan is a ‘tapori’ and unworthy of getting a Padma Shri.
But the proud and protective mother Sharmila Tagore thinks a recognition of this sort is well deserved for her son.
Says the lovely actress, “I’ve become fond of Saif as an actor. And I look forward to seeing what he does next. This kind of a recognition encourages an artiste to better himself. Even if you lead a relatively carefree life, a Padma award makes you sit up and say, ‘Hey, I’ve to live up to this. It isn’t a film award I’m getting here. The government is recognizing my efforts, and I better live up to expectations.’ The Padma Shri will make Saif evaluate his worth and make him think of what the country expects him. I think it’s a great pat on the back.”
Speaking of awards and recognition in general, Sharmila opines, “The National Awards must have their own identity free of Bollywood domination. It’s very important for regional cinema to get its recognition. Now that Antaheen has won the National Award for Best Film it will get a renewed shelf life. Such recognition means a lot to regional filmmakers. You know when Manik-da (Satyajit Ray) made his first film Pather Panchali he had to pawn his wife’s jewellery. Nothing has changed, really. Even today a regional film is made on a meagre budget. The National Award means a lot to regional filmmakers.”
Speaking for herself Sharmila feels her recognition as an actress has come more from regional cinema than Hindi. “Barring a Mausam for which I got the National Award, most of my prestigious recognition has come from Bengali cinema. Even now, the Bengali film Antaheen in which I play a cameo got the National Award for Best Film. I got a lot of opportunities to work in wonderful Hindi films like Devar, Anupama, Aavishkar and Grihapravesh. Definitely, these were forward-looking films, having said that the regional cinema has so much longevity.”
Sharmila feels nostalgia often dictates recognition and adulation. “Zohra Sehgal got a Padma Vibhushan this year. When you’re around for a certain period of time, people do love you. All said and done, we Indians are a very sentimental people.”
Nowadays Sharmila chooses her films carefully. “Maybe one film at a time. Otherwise I get tired. Getting things done through the Ministry as the chairperson of the censor board is not easy. Also, my work with UNICEF and other organizations gives me more satisfaction. I’ve a one-to-one with younger people. All this is a strain on 24 hours. Today I’m a more kindred citizen. I also like to travel. Right now as I talk to you I am gazing out of my window in our home in Pataudi and I can see peacocks all over garden. I wouldn’t like relinquish this pleasure for more work on hand.”
Speaking on her work in cinema being recognized Sharmila laughs, “My self-worth doesn’t come from what other people say about me. Recognition or the lack of it doesn’t run or ruin my life. Even if it doesn’t come I still have a wonderful support system. It’s enough that some people like me. I know I’m not in the same league as Amitabh Bachchan and Shah Rukh Khan. But when I walk into a room I only feel good vibes. My fulfilment comes not from awards but from watching the peacocks frolicking in my garden in Pataudi. Not that I don’t take my work as an actor seriously. I do. Earlier when I didn’t like an end-product I dissociated myself from that film. Nowadays you are contract-bound to promote a film even if you don’t like it. I find that kind of enforced professionalism to be restricting.”