Sharmila Tagore: The dimpled diva

This doe-eyed Bengali girl with her beautiful smile set many hearts aflutter with her sizzling acts on-screen that created ripples in Bollywood of the ’70s

By Author  |  Mausumi Sucharita  |  Published: 18th Aug 2019  12:42 amUpdated: 17th Aug 2019  10:11 pm
Sharmila Tagore

Sharmila Tagore, one of the popular Bollywood stars of 1970s, was known not only as a dimple and doe-eyed beauty, but also for her aristocratic background. She is great-great-grandniece of Nobel laureate poet Rabindranath Tagore and was married to Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi, Nawab of Pataudi and former Captain of Indian cricket team.

Discovered by famous director Satyajit Ray, Sharmila made her debut at the age of 14 in Apur Sansar (1959), in which she played a young bride. After acting in a couple of Bengali movies, she moved to Bollywood but, once in a while, kept going back to do Bengali movies. Sharmila became an overnight sensation with Kashmir Ki Kali released in1964.

Sharmila was known to be different and held her own; she created ripples when wore a bikini in An Evening in Paris (1967) and did a bikini photo shoot for Filmfare magazine.

In 1969, she married Mansur Ali Khan and lived together for 47 years till his death in 2011. She changed her name to Begum Ayesha Sultana after marriage, but continued with her career and gave some of the big hits as a leading lady opposite Rajesh Khanna.

Some of her popular movies are Chhoti Bahu, Amanush, Avishkaar, Mausam, Safar, Aradhana, and Amar Prem, among others.


Kashmir Ki Kali    

Shammi Kapoor plays the rich-young-eligible bachelor who does not want to marry the girl chosen by his mother; so he flees to Kashmir, to escape his stern mother.

There, he falls in love with a local Kashmiri girl Champa (Sharmila Tagore) selling flowers. Both want to get married but Rani maa won’t approve of it. And there is Pran (Mohan), the local villain, who wants to marry Champa, in return of the money he has loaned to her poor father.

The story is not so simple; there is a little twist in there, the rich boy is actually son of a poor man (Champa’s father) and Champa is daughter of Rani maa. How truth comes to the fore and how they get married forms rest of the story.

Pristine snow clad mountains and lakes of Kashmir are an USP of the movie and it has some foot-tapping tunes such as Isharon isharon mein, Deewana hua baadal, Subhan Allah, and Taarif Karoon Kya.

Director: Shakti Samanta
Producer: Shakti Samanta
Cast: Shammi Kapoor, Sharmila Tagore, Pran, Nazir Hussain
Release: November 20, 1964


Amar Prem

Many thought Amar Prem was about Rajesh Khanna, but, it was actually a tailor-made role for Sharmila Tagore, who plays Pushpa in the film.

Pushpa is abandoned by her husband for a second wife and sold to a brothel by an uncle. She finds love in businessman Anand, who is in an unhappy and lonely marriage, and is her exclusive customer. Pushpa, a sex worker with a golden heart, adores Nandu, a child who is mistreated by his step-mother (Bindu).

But, fate has more cruelties in store for Pushpa and she decides not to meet Anand anymore after being threatened by his family members. Years pass by and an elderly Pushpa, working as a maid, meets Anand, who is now a divorcee. How Nandu (Vinod Mehra), a grown-up man now, finally rescues her and takes her home, forms the climax.

Some of the soulful compositions sung by Kishore Kumar and LataMangeskar – Kuch Toh Log Kahenge, Chingari Koi Bhadke, Yeh Kya Hua Kaise Hua, Raina Beeti Jaye, leave you craving for more.

Director: Shakti Samanta
Producer: Shakti Samanta
Cast: Rajesh Khanna, Sharmila Tagore, Vinod Mehra, Abhi Bhattacharya, Bindu, Sujit Kumar, Om Prakash
Release: January 28, 1972


Chupke Chupke

One of the best Bollywood comedies of all time, it has a message that no two languages are superior or inferior to one another.

It is the story of a professor of Botany Parimal Tripathi played by Dharmendra who falls in love with a Botany student – Surekha (Sharmila Tagore). They get married with the blessing of Surekha’s elder brother Haripad bhaiya (David) but her elder sister (Lily Chakravarty) and brother-in-law Raghav (Om Prakash) fail to attend the wedding.

Surekha speaks highly of her jijaji and thinks no one can match him; Parimal wants to prove that he is no less. So, he turns a driver, who speaks pure Hindi, and enters jijaji’s household with the help of Haripad bhaiya.

A couple of days later, Surekha joins him at her sister’s place; they give an impression that Surekha is unhappy with her marriage and is having an affair with the driver. And one day, they elope, adding a twist to the story, how jijaji solves the mystery forms the climax.

Director: Hrishikesh Mukherjee
Producer: Hrishikesh Mukherjee, NC Sippy
Cast: Dharmendra, Amitabh Bachchan, Sharmila Tagore, Jaya Bachchan, Om Prakash, Asrani, Lily Chakravarty
Release: April 11, 1975


Aa Gale Lag Ja

Sharmila Tagore is a self-proclaimed fan of Shashi Kapoor and they did several films together, but this one stood out from others and was a hit. Preeti (Sharmila), a medico on a trip to Shimla, bumps into Prem (Shashi), a skater, and, cupid strikes. She meets with an accident and Prem saves her, one thing leads to another and they decide to get married but Preeti’s rich widower father plays the villain and manages to break their relationship.

Much later, Preeti realises she is pregnant, and her father takes for a secret delivery and tells her the child was stillborn; the truth was her father wanted to get rid of the child so gives the baby to Prem and asks him to get away from Preeti.

A heartbroken Preeti returns to Mumbai and starts a new life and gets engaged to Dr Amar (Shatrughan Sinha). Then, fate brings Prem and Preeti face to face again. How they reconcile forms the latter half of the story.

The film is also known for its lovely songs Vaada Karo and Tera Mujhse Hain Pehle Ka Nata Koi that became chartbusters.

Director: Manmohan Desai
Producer: AK Nadiawala
Cast: Shashi Kapoor, Sharmila Tagore, Shatrughan Sinha, Om Prakash
Release: November 16, 1973

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