Lahore: Veteran actress Sharmila Tagore has expressed her delight at being in Lahore, saying she has found so much in common between India and Pakistan. Opening the two-day Lahore Literary Festival (LLF), the celebrated star said she visited Lahore earlier but crossed the border for the first time.
“From crossing the border to a Chughtai painting, old Hindi songs in my hotel room here remind me of how similar India and Pakistan are.” The festival began with her key-note address – Safar. Sharmila clad in a magenta sari, was welcomed on stage with a thundering standing ovation.
“I started acting (at the age of 13) before I had even watched a film. We were not allowed to watch movies as children. It was frowned upon in those days,” she said, adding she had been exposed to a myriad of views since her early years.
She also talked about her liberal upbringing in Calcutta, which was at odds with the sense of morality prevalent in Bombay when she later relocated to the city. “The actresses wore white, sipped Coca-Cola and did not smile. This was expected of a leading lady back in the day,” Sharmila, 71, said.
It was in this era that she donned a bikini for a Filmfare cover and “An Evening in Paris” came out that left the society scandalised by another appearance of hers in a swimsuit. “I received a lot of flak for it,” Sharmila said, disclosing she had taken a conscious decision to reinvent her public image after understanding the sense of morality peculiar to Bombay. “I wanted to be taken seriously.”
The session was dotted with video clips of some of her most popular films, including first two — “Apur Sansar” and “Devi” (Benagli) with the iconic Satyajit Ray and Hindi film debut “Kashmir Ki Kali” by Shakti Samanta.