`Saif Ali Khan’s choice of films hasn’t been good in the past few years’: Sharmila Tagore

Saif Ali Khan’s past releases, including ‘Bullett Raja’, ‘Humshakals’, ‘Happy Ending’ and now ‘Phantom’, have been failing at the box office. His mother and veteran actress Sharmila Tagore blames it on his choice of films. While addressing a recent session of FICCI FLO in Jaipur, she said, “Saif ‘s choice of films hasn’t been good in the past few years. However, he has also done some commendable work in films like ‘Omkara’ and ‘Parineeta’.”

Sharmila started working in films at the age of 13. She starred in the final installment of Satyajit Ray’s Apu Trilogy . At that time, she was studying in a Bengali-medium school. For the school’s principal, working in films meant distracting other students, she said. “Though my father tried to reason with the principal,she didn’t change her mind and I had to leave the school.I was then enrolled at Asansol’s Loreto Convent. The shift from a Bengali-medium to an English-medium school was difficult. I knew all the words, but didn’t know grammar. It was my teachers who helped me with that. By the end of the first year, I matched up with the rest of the class,” she recalled.

Talking about Kareena’s inclusion in the family , she said, “Kareena has completely gelled in. She is like my daughter. She has been there with us in all our good and bad times – at Tiger’s 70th birthday , during the time when he wasn’t well, and at his funeral. She’s been there for us even before her marriage to Saif.”

When she was asked who among the two – Saif or Kareena – she thought was a better actor, Sharmila laughed and said, “Both of them are very good. I believe it is the director who brings the best in you.”

HER MOST EMBARRASSING MEMORY

During her conversation with Preeti Saboo, chairperson of FICCI FLO and Neeta Boochra, former national president of FICCI FLO, Sharmila was asked about the most embarrassing moment in her life. She said, “During Saif and Kareena’s wedding, I sent the wedding invite addressed to a couple, when the wife had passed away. That was one of the most embarrassing moments in my life. Had Tiger been there with me, it wouldn’t have happened. He was very particular about these things.” She adds, “I was married to Tiger for almost 43 years. We didn’t make it to 50, but all those years I spent with him are memorable. When someone who is close to you passes away , life suddenly changes. But it’s a new beginning and a new normal. People say that time heals things. I’d say , it’s the memories that heal. They are what sustain you.”

I WOULD HAVE LOVED TO DO A FILM LIKE ‘PIKU’

Sharmila said the opportunity to work in a woman-centric film never came her way . “I would have loved to do a film like ‘Piku’ or ‘Neerja’. But I never got a role where a woman played an authoritative role. In my time, the hero and the villain were both men. The heroine was only the victim.”

SINGLE SCREEN IS STILL DEPENDENT ON MALE ACTORS

“The wage gap between male and female actors has always existed, and not just in the film industry . Even though things are changing and women are playing an important role in the economic development of the country , a woman’s income is still treated as extra. Single screens are still dependent on male actors,” said the actress.

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