Sharmila Tagore and Pranab Mukherjee were India’s honorary guests at a cultural summit in Dhaka on May 6 to celebrate the 150th birth anniversary of Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore.
Sharmila has returned deeply impressed by the interest in the work of Tagore in Dhaka. Though she feels there was ample curiosity and interest generated in India for the great event, Sharmila was more impressed by the deep reverence that the Bangladeshis showed for Gurudev. “To them in Bangladesh, Tagore is as vital as he is to us in India. But here we tend to make cultural events a celebrity gallery. I was most impressed by their enthusiasm. The Prime Minister of Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina was at the event. And though there were many dignitaries at the event, Rabindranath Tagore remained the centre of attention at the event.”
This was Sharmila’s second visit to Dhaka. She will return to the city soon when a similar cultural summit to celebrate the art and poetry of Kazi Nazrul Islam is being planned.
Says the actress, “I met several academicians and intellectuals during my brief visit. I wish I had the time to see more of Bangladesh. But I return to the country soon. There are many points of similarities between the Bengali culture in India and in Bangladesh. I think we need to explore those points of similarity.”
At the moment, it’s quits to film acting for the glorious Sharmila. She was apparently approached to star opposite her old co-star Soumitra Chatterjee in a film by Rajshri Ojha. Sharmila has decided not to work in that project. “I read the script. And I didn’t like my role. As much as I’d love to work with Soumitra again, at this stage I am looking for new challenges.”
She says she has moved on from acting. “I’ve moved away from the whole burden of putting on makeup and going in front of the camera. I hope it’s just a phase. But at the moment I am not enthused by film acting. At the end of the day, film is a commerce. And films today are for, about and by the very young. Films like Vicky Donor are very interesting. I’d rather try new experiences like reciting Rabindranath Tagore’s lines in Dhaka as I did on May 6.”
Sharmila laments the absence of inspiring roles. “I enjoyed this Turkish film called Once Upon A Time in Anatolia which I saw in Muscat when I chaired a jury at the film festival. The film just blew me away. It reminded me of Satyajit Ray. It captured the human side of life. Such films make me wonder why we can’t make them. Religion used to be the opium of the masses. Now it’s cinema. But where are the roles for me? I am content with what I am doing. I’m not interested in stereotypical roles. Look at what Zohra Sehgal is playing at her age. Sharmila Tagore can’t be playing Sharmila Tagore all her life. No no, I am not holding my breath for the roles.”