Sharmila Tagore was born on the 8th of December, 1946. She is the recipient of the National Film Award as well as Filmfare Awards. She is the mother of two Bollywood actors who have also made a name for themselves in the film industry: Saif Ali Khan and Soha; but she is better known for being who she is and that is, of being one of biggest stars of Bollwood whose beauty, talent and dimples have endured the test of time. Though her looks and hairstyles have changed with changing fashion, her talent has remained top class.
Since Sharmila has done her bit of playing the glamour doll as well as going de-glam in her roles, the pictures in her various films give a fascinating insight into the prevalent fashion of that decade.
In Apur Sansar
Sharmila began her film journey under ace director Satyajit Ray’s master eye and it was in his Bengali film Apur Sansar (The World of Apu) that was released in 1959, that she, a fourteen year old teenager, played the role of the young Bengali bride of Apu’s, the protagonist of the film. Her innocence and simple sweet dressing as befitted the early twentieth century style, shone out and clearly marked her as a star on the rise.
In Kashmir Ki Kali
The Hindi movie audience could only get to see Sharmila in 1964, when she debuted with the Shakti Samanta directed film Kashmir Ki Kali opposite the then top hero, Shammi Kapoor. The movie was a huge hit and people loved the dimpled dainty heroine with the shy smile. She wore Kashmiri dresses in the movie which enhanced her innocent looks and went with the character.
It was in the Yash Chopra directed film Waqt , a 1965 released film, that people saw the glamorous side of Sharmila. In the film she played a rich man’s daughter, so she had ample scope to wear the trendy tight churidars along with tight kurtas; her bouffant hair style also made an impact along with the elongated eye defining liner.. Though the movie was dominated more with the styling genius of the other leading heroine, Sadhana, Sharmila too made a considerable impact in this super hit multi-starrer film.
It’s a credit to Sharmila, that even while she was playing glamorous roles, she also was taking up challenges such as her subdued role in the 1966 film directed by Hrishikesh Mukherjee, Anupama. Though Sharmila Tagore stuck to her bee- hive hair style and extended eye liner on her eyes, she wore simple sarees and sensitively portrayed the introvert and insecure Uma, who pines for her father’s love.
In An Evening In Paris
In An Evening In Paris
An Evening In Paris was a 1967 Shakti Samanta film, which had Sharmila playing a double role opposite Shammi Kapoor. The role showcased Sharmila’s glamorous side like never before; Sharmila was beautiful as she dared to appear in a one piece swim suit for one of the songs; a most unusual step taken by a Bollywood heroine during the 1960s. Her knotted blouses became a rage and her image as a fashionista became stronger.
When other major heroines refused to play an old woman for the Shakti Samanta directed film Aradhana in 1969, Sharmila agreed to play the role of Rajesh Khanna’s lover as well as his mother. She won her first Filmfare Award for this block buster film that established her acting credentials in Bollywood. She wore chiffon sarees with great elan while playing his lover and wore a simple saree, painted wrinkles on her face and powdered white hair to portray the stereotypical suffering mother of those times. This movie was the start of a successful on-screen pairing with Rajesh Khanna.
In Amar Prem
Amar Prem was another film with Rajesh Khanna as her romantic lead and Shakti Samanta as the director. This 1972 film was a period film and she played the role of a courtesan. While she remained true to her own trade mark styling of bouffant hair style and extended eyes make up with frosted lip stick, she wore rich silk sarees for the role. Sharmila had been married for 2 years now and yet was successful at the box office contrary to the widespread belief that married actresses’ don’t fare well commercially.
In Daag: A Poem of Love
Yash Chopra’s film Daag: A Poem of Love that was released in 1973 made it look to the audience as if three people in a relationship who live together, is ordinary. Sharmila played the role of a collegian and then later a widow. Sharmila maintained her trade mark style and experimented with only the clothes. Her acting in the film was great.
In Aa Gale Lag Jaa
Sharmila was already the mother of a three year old son, Saif Ali Khan, when she did the film Aa Gale Lag Jaa in 1973 for director Manmohan Desai opposite Shashi Kapoor. She was flat stomached and trim and amazingly beautiful. Her look as a rich man’s daughter was stylish and modern. She wore many interestingly styled blouses with great charm.
Sharmila got the role of a lifetime in the Gulzar directed film Mausam , which was released in 1975. Sharmila played the double role of an ordinary girl and also that of a cheap prostitute who is prone to swearing, smoking and drinking. Sharmila, by this time had thinly arched eyebrows in keeping with the prevalent fashion and her hair style looked far more natural and so did her eyes. She was careful with her clothes keeping the sensibilities of her characters in mind and wore only blouse and petticoat for the character of the foul mouthed daughter.
In Chupke Chupke
The Hrishikesh film Chupke Chupke was released in 1975 and was a delightful and iconic comedy film. Sharmila enacted her role with great comic timing and wore a lot of printed chiffon sarees and with a bindi on her forehead, in her post marriage scenes. The thinly plucked, highly arched eyebrows were distinctive of those times.
The Gulzar directed film Namkeen was an award winning 1982 film that dealt with rural Indian society. Sharmila wore earth colored dresses and was a key character in this sensitively handled film. In her 40s, Sharmila was quietly confident in her own fashion sense.
In Mississippi Masala
Mira Nair directed the romantic drama Mississippi Masala and released it in 1991. Sharmila was authentic as a woman who flees with her family from the Idi Amin dictatorship of Uganda to settle in Mississippi.
In Virruddh… Family Comes First
Virruddh… Family Comes First was released in 2005 and was directed by Mahesh Manjrekar. Sharmila played the wife of a retired man, who lose their only son and how they live their life with grace and strength from thereon. Sharmila was again comfortable playing the role of an older woman, with grey hair, but this time with more maturity and naturalness.
In Break Ke Baad
Break Ke Baad was a film released in 2010 and was directed by Danish Aslam . Sharmila played a mature modern woman who is the strength behind her daughter played by Deepika. Sharmila wore clothes that suited her character again and the complete look was modern and elegant.
While Sharmila Tagore’s present personal style is elegant, with pastel chiffon sarees ruling and a statement jewelry piece on ; there were those times in the movies when she was a top star of the 60s and 70s and she was very careful of her public glamorous image. It is also statement of the times that today modern heroines are more careful of the complete look while playing a character; be it the dress, make up or even language.