Sharmila Tagore was once caught for stealing, then lying about it
And of all people, her victim was Rabindranath Tagore
‘Twenty-five years old with 15 years of work experience’. That’s what most employers seem to be hunting for in a potential employees. Now you and I wouldn’t win these LinkedIn profile wars unless we’d started working at the age of 10, but Sharmila Tagore just might. The veteran actor began working in films when she was 13, starring in a Satyajit Ray film that kicked off decades-long career.
In the latest episode of The Icons, she sits down with Twinkle Khanna to talk about her bold, beautiful life.
The Rabindranath Tagore connection
Thanks to last-minute school assignments, most of us have copied an obscure writer’s work and tried to pass it off as our own. But can you say you plagiarised your own renowned relative? Sharmila Tagore can. Though she’s related to Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore from both sides of her family, she has no idea who he was.
It was only when she tried to plagiarise his famous poem Proshno, and was caught by her teacher, that she discovered the truth. “My punishment was to stand in front of the junior school and when I told my mother, she said, ‘This won’t do’ and that I had to know who Tagore was.”
At a time when leading ladies were dressed in crisp saris and elaborate hairdos to portray demure characters, Sharmila Tagore took an unconventional path by posing in a bikini for a magazine shoot. And caused a huge uproar in the process. “It became such a big thing,” she recalls, admitting she had no idea that “just a piece of clothing can create such controversy. I can’t say I was forced to do that, it was entirely my decision. I did that shoot spontaneously and when it made the cover, lots of things were read into it that I wanted to grab attention or be more commercially viable. I just thought I looked nice.”
At 78, Sharmila Tagore still manages a lot of responsibilities, “Sometimes I’m bogged down with unfun things that are a part of my life. I’m trying to resolve them one by one and get the children involved and take over from me.”
But even with multiple tasks on her list, she ensures to include some R&R for herself. “In between everything, I’ve always found my solo time, to look at a tree or a beautiful sunset. I respect and value that time because without that, living according to other people’s priorities can be draining because in the process you lose your own priority. So it’s essential that you are mindful of who you are.”