By Akanksha Gupta Last Updated:
Born into the prominent Tagore family, 14-year-old Sharmila Tagore had made her debut in the film industry in 1959 and in no time, she had created a niche for herself in Hindi and Bengali cinema. Little did we know back in the year 1959 that in the coming years, the effervescent Bengali beauty will be creating history in August 1966 with her first-ever bikini shoot for a magazine and a film. It is said that it was Sharmila Tagore, who became a pioneer of the bikini trend with her bold photoshoot, which was then followed by her contemporaries in the film industry. She had unleashed her bold side wearing a sky-blue coloured one-piece swimsuit in her film, An Evening In Paris and a black bikini for the cover of the Filmfare magazine. Back then, it was indeed a brave move.
From being the sex symbol of yesteryears to delivering power-packed performances in iconic movies, Sharmila Tagore exuded confidence like no other in the film industry and even today, her charm and royalty is unmatched! She is a proud mother of three wonderful children, Saif Ali Khan, Saba Ali Khan and Soha Ali Khan, a loving mother-in-law to Kareena Kapoor Khan and Kunal Kemmu, and a doting grandmother of five adorable grandchildren, Sara Ali Khan, Ibrahim Ali Khan, Taimur Ali Khan, Jeh and Inaaya Naumi Kemmu. And every member of the family proudly says that Sharmila Tagore is their inspiration.
During an online session, hosted by Film Companion, Sharmila Tagore spoke about how her film choices have always been unconventional. She said,
"My life choices, looking back, have been unconventional. Like the bikini shoot for Filmfare, that people don't ever let me forget."
In a throwback interview with the Filmfare, she had said,
"Oh! God, how conservative our society was back then! I’ve no idea why I did that shoot. It was just before I got married. I remember when I showed the two-piece bikini to the photographer, he asked me, 'Are you sure about this?' In some of the shots, he even asked me to cover my body. He was more worried than I was but I had no qualms doing that shoot. Only when people started reacting strongly to the cover, was I taken aback. I was puzzled as to why they didn’t like the picture. I thought I looked nice. Some called it a deliberate move to grab eyeballs; others termed me as ‘astutely uncanny’. I hated that. Maybe, there was an exhibitionist in me, as I was young and excited to do something different.”
Sharmila Tagore is not just an inspiration for her unconventional choices on the professional front, but she has set the benchmark of a mother-in-law and daughter-in-law relationship very high with her bond with bahu, Kareena Kapoor Khan. Breaking the stereotypes surrounding a saas-bahu relationship, in an interview with a leading media portal, Kareena had praised her mother-in-law and was quoted as saying,
“When I am with the family, I am treated like a daughter. Sharmila ji treats me like a daughter. We are not in the 1900s. We don't live like traditional saas bahus. We just went to the Maldives for a holiday where I wore a bikini in front of my mother-in-law. It's normal. I don't understand why it's such a big thing. I would do the same with my mother.”
When Sharmila Tagore had turned 76 in December 2020, her daughter-in-law, Kareena Kapoor Khan had posted a throwback monochrome picture of the veteran actress. Kareena had captioned her post as “To one of the most coolest and strongest women I know... happy birthday my beautiful mother-in-law.” Sharmila Tagore’s granddaughter, Sara Ali Khan had posted a picture from the celebrations to wish her Badi Amman. She had captioned it as “Happy happy Birthday Badi Amman. Thank you for being my pillar of support, guiding force and inspiration. I love you lots.”
Sharmila Tagore was the sapnon ki rani of Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi, who was a pioneering figure in India's rich cricketing heritage. Neither Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi was a crazy Bollywood fan, nor Sharmila Tagore was an avid cricket lover. Not only their faiths were different, but everything from their profession to their personalities were poles apart. Both had reached the zenith in their respective fields, and in their spellbinding unconventional love journey, December 27, 1969, had marked the beginning of their ‘happily ever after’.
Sharmila Tagore is bold and fabulous even at this age, and this is what inspires us the most about her.