Character roles liberate you-Sharmila Tagore
|• What tempts you to do a film?
When I got married way back in 1968, my decision was to cut down on films but never give up. The very act of getting married means that you are not alone, you are taking on a family. In those days it could take two-three years to make a film. Now, we work on one film at a time, which is the ideal way to work. That’s how regional films are made.
I am turned on by a good script and a good role and I don’t judge a good role by its length. When you start doing character roles, it gives you a liberating feeling because you are no longer victim to looking good and you can then freely be the character.
I would love to do those characters with today’s directors like Vishal Bharadwaj or Raju Hirani. Imtiaz Ali obviously makes films about two young people in love but if he ever has a role for elderly people I would love to do it.• Samantar offered all this?
In Samantar, although my character, Shama, is a recluse, she doesn’t go by social compulsions but by natural compulsions which is about being herself. Being herself means gardening, being close to nature, she creates beautiful pottery, she plays the violin. But in the company of people she isn’t herself. I chose this role because it is not a very verbose character so there is minimal dialogue except that I do have a three-page soliloquy.
Amol is a very sensitive director, and there is beautiful camera work, beautiful locations, and very competent and talented actors who play the smaller supporting characters. We shot at this place called Kalna which even the Bengali directors haven’t discovered. It’s a place of archeological importance. It’s a terracotta Shiv temple dating back 300 years, it has 108 Shivlings white and black.
The music by Anand Modak is excellent, Shomit’s lyrics are excellent.
• Why did it take you so long to take on a Marathi film?
Because nobody asked me so far. Amol was the first one who came with a Marathi proposal. I have been seeing Shashikalaji’s performances, Dr Mohan Agashe is a dear friend and I have always had the highest regard for Marathi actors because like in Bengal, they are all very good actors. If we can see Iranian films and Chinese films, why can’t we see our own regional films?
• Doesn’t every language have its own meter and isn’t it difficult to adjust?
Bengali and Marathi have the same meter. Pauses, breaks and emphasis are the same. It’s just that some alphabets are pronounced differently.
• So, is your character alone or lonely?
When you are alone, not enjoying yourself, are resentful and wanting company and when you don’t get company you feel deprived, that is being lonely. I would take loneliness in a negative sense. Somewhere in our souls we are all alone. To be alone I think is wonderful, that is when you can introspect, grow or evolve and that is a very positive thing. To be alone and doing your own thing, listening to music, exercising, looking at a beautiful flower, swimming in the sea or walking alone in the hills, it’s a wonderful healing process. When you are doing yoga you aren’t doing it to impress anybody, you are doing it for yourself. That is a healing and growing process. That is the difference between loneliness and being alone.
• Which three Hindi films would you list as most memorable?
I would say Safar with Asit Sen, Dooriyan with Bhimsain and Mausam. Safar and Dooriyan were the two films where I follow an individual goal as a woman. Usually all women put the family before and sacrifice for them. These two women want to follow their careers and are therefore misunderstood. Indian films should have professional women because the moment you become a working woman, you are a negative character, you are the cause of divorce. Children should feel, ‘I have a working mother’ and look at it with added value as opposed to that she is working woman, she must be neglecting her children.
• The change is happening…
It needs to change more. Look at the disparity between the hero’s salary and the heroine’s.
• What did you think of Saif in the Kal part of Love Aaj Kal?
It’s written very well, and Saif is very good, specially in the Kal part. Whatever he does, pulls his shirt in front, the earnestness, he does it very well. He is one of those very spontaneous actors. When he interacts with others, the screen looks good, not that he outsmarts the others. He doesn’t interact with his audience, he interacts with his co-stars. Therefore his scenes are very real and I think he is becoming a wonderful actor.
• You are set to have a celebrity daughter-in-law soon ( Kareena Kapoor). How will it affect family dynamics?
I don’t think it changes anything. She also comes from a film background and we come from various fields. One extra person comes in and things change, but it’s for the better. You have to grow, everything grows.
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