Sharmila Tagore

Sharmila Tagore (also known as Begum Ayesha Sultana Khan following conversion to Islam and marriage[2]; born 8 December 1944) is a former Indian film actress known for her works in Hindi cinema as well as Bengali cinema. She has received two National Film Awards and two Filmfare Awards for her performances. She was one of the highest paid actresses in 70s and also one of the iconic veteran actresses of Indian Cinema.

Sharmila Tagore
Tagore at an event in 2014.
Sharmila Tagore

(1944-12-08) 8 December 1944
OccupationModel, Actress
Years active1959–1984
Mansoor Ali Khan
(m. 1969; died 2011)
ChildrenSaif, Saba, Soha
RelativesTagore family (by birth)
Pataudi family (by marriage)

She led the Indian Film Censor Board from October 2004 till March 2011. In December 2005 she was chosen as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador.[3] She was one of the International Competition's Jury Members at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival. In 2013, she was awarded Padma Bhushan by the Government of India.[4]

Early life

Sharmila was born in Hyderabad, India, the daughter of Gitindranath Tagore, a general manager in the British India Corporation, by his wife Ira Tagore (née Barua).[5] While Tagore's father belonged to a Bengali Hindu family, her mother came from an Assamese Hindu family, and both of them were distantly related to the Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore.[6][7] Gitindranath was the grandson of the noted painter Gaganendranath Tagore, whose own father Gunendranath had been a first cousin of the laureate.[5] In fact, Sharmila Tagore is more closely related to Rabindranath Tagore through her mother: her maternal grandmother Latika Barua (née Tagore) was the granddaughter of Rabindranath Tagore's brother Dwijendranath Tagore.[5] Tagore's maternal grandfather (husband of Latika Barua née Tagore) was Jnanadabhiram Barua, the first Principal of Earl Law College in Guwahati (now known as Government Law College), himself the son of the noted social worker Gunabhiram Barua.[8][9] As a member of the Tagore family, Sharmila Tagore is also a distant relative of the actress Devika Rani and the painter Abanindranath Tagore (brother of Gaganendranath Tagore)

Tagore was the eldest of three children and had two younger sisters, the late Oindrila Kunda [Tinku Tagore] and Romila Sen [Chinky]. Oindrila was the first in the family to act in a film, and the only role she ever played was that of Mini, the child character (but a central character) in Tapan Sinha's film Kabuliwala (1957).[5][10] In adulthood, she became an international bridge player. The other sister, Romila Sen, is the wife of Nikhil Sen, a corporate honcho who served as Chief Operating Officer of Britannia Industries for many years.

Tagore attended St. John's Diocesan Girls' Higher Secondary School and Loreto Convent, Asansol.[11] She made her film debut when she was a 13-year-old schoolgirl, after which her studies lost priority, and she never finished school. Within a short while, her results in school became very bad, her attendance levels were very low, she came to be regarded as a bad influence on her classmates, and was faced with a choice of either doing films or studying further.[12] At that point, her father advised her to move ahead in life, commit herself to a film career and 'give it her all' in order to become successful.[12] She did as her father advised, and credits her parents for having supported her at every point in her life.


Sharmila Tagore began her career as an actress in Satyajit Ray's 1959 Bengali film Apur Sansar (The World of Apu), as the ill-fated bride of the title character. She later appeared in Shakti Samanta's Kashmir Ki Kali in 1964. Samanta cast her in many more films, including An Evening in Paris (1967), in which she became the first Indian actress to appear in a bikini,[13][14][15][16][17][18] which established Sharmila Tagore as somewhat of a sex symbol in Hindi films.[19][20] She also posed in a bikini for the glossy Filmfare magazine in 1968.[16][21][22][23] But, when Begum Ayesha Sultana was the chairperson of the Central Board of Film Certification 36 years later, she expressed concerns about the increased use of bikinis in Indian films.[24]

Samanta later teamed up Sharmila with Rajesh Khanna for movies such as Aradhana (1969) and Amar Prem (1972). Other directors paired them together in Safar (1970), Daag (1973), and Maalik (1972). The pair of Khanna-Sharmila gave 7 box office hits[25]Aradhana, Safar, Amar Prem, Chhoti Bahu, Daag, "Raja Rani" and Avishkaar. As per the review of the film Raja Rani made in 2014 by the Hindu newspaper, the film did well at the box office and taking into consideration, the inflation as of 2014, the film would have grossed more than 1 billion.[26] She starred in Gulzar's 1975 film, Mausam and won the National Film Award for Best Actress. She also played a supporting role in Mira Nair's 1991 film Mississippi Masala. She was the highest paid Bollywood actress from 1970 to 1976 along with Mumtaz. She had a very successful pairing opposite Dharmendra, along with whom she starred in seven movies - Devar (1966), Anupama (1966), Mere Hamdam Mere Dost (1968), Satyakam (1969), Yakeen (1969), Chupke Chupke (1975), Ek Mahal Ho Sapno Ka (1975) and Sunny (1984). Her filmography also include Faraar (1975) opposite Amitabh Bachchan; Besharam (1975) and Mausam (1978) opposite Sanjeev Kumar; and Bengali film Mangaldeep (1991) opposite Naseeruddin Shah. In 2017, she walked as a showstopper for Designer Rohini Gugnani at India Runway Week.[27]

Personal life

Sharmila Tagore married Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi, the Nawab of Pataudi and former captain of the Indian cricket team, in a Nikah ceremony held on 27 December 1969. She converted to Islam upon marriage and changed her name to Begum Ayesha Sultana Khan. They had three children: Saif Ali Khan (b. 1970), a Bollywood actor, Saba Ali Khan (b. 1976),[28] a jewellery designer, and Soha Ali Khan (b. 1978), a Bollywood actress and TV personality. Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi died, at age 70, on 22 September 2011.[29] In November 2012 she wrote to the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) asking for the upcoming series between India and England to be recognised as the Pataudi Trophy which was commissioned by the MCC in 2007. The Indian board responded saying that England's Test series in India are contested for the Anthony de Mello Trophy, in honour of the cricket administrator and co-founder of the BCCI.[30]


Civilian honors
National Film Awards
Filmfare Awards
Anandalok Awards
Screen Awards

Selected filmography

1959Apur Sansar (The World of Apu)Satyajit RayAparnaBengali
1960Devi (The Goddess)Satyajit RayDoyamoyeeBengali
1963Shes AnkoHaridas BhattacharyaMalaBengali
1963Nirjan SaikateTapan SinhaRenuBengali
1963BarnaliAjoy KarAloka ChoudhuryBengali
1963Chhaya ShurjoPartha Pratim ChowdhuryGhentooBengali
1964Kashmir Ki KaliShakti SamantaChampaHindi
1965WaqtYash ChopraRenu KhannaHindi
1965Dak GharZul Vellaniguest appearanceHindi
1966AnupamaHrishikesh MukherjeeUma SharmaHindi
1966DevarMohan SehgalMadhumati / BanwariyaHindi
1966Sawan Ki GhataShakti SamantaSeemaHindi
1966NayakSatyajit RayAditiBengali
1966Yeh Raat Phir Na AayegiBrijKiran / KiranmaiHindi
1967Milan Ki RaatR.BhattacharyaHindi
1967An Evening in ParisShakti SamantaDeepa Malik/Roopa Malik (Suzy)Hindi
1967Aamne SaamneSuraj PrakashSapna Mathur / Sapna G. MittalHindi
1968Mere Hamdam Mere DostAmar KumarAnitaHindi
1968HumsayaJoy MukherjeeLeena SenHindi
1969SatyakamHrishikesh MukherjeeRanjanaHindi
1969TalashO. P. RalhanMadhu / GauriHindi
1969AradhanaShakti SamantaVandhana TripathiHindi
1970Aranyer Din Ratri (Days and Nights in the Forest)Satyajit RayAparnaBengali
1970Suhana SafarVijaySapnaHindi
1970Mere HumsafarDulal GuhaTaruna/MeenakshiHindi
1970My LoveS. SukhdevSangeeta ThakurHindi
1970SafarAsit SenNeela KapoorHindi
1971SeemabaddhaSatyajit RayTutulBengali
1971Chhoti BahuK.B. TilakRadhaHindi
1972Amar PremShakti SamantaPushpaHindi
1972Yeh Gulistan HamaraAtma RamSoo ReniHindi
1973Raja RaniSachin BhowmickNirmala / RaniHindi
1973DaagYash ChopraSonia KohliHindi
1973Aa Gale Lag JaaManmohan DesaiPreetiHindi
1974AvishkaarBasu BhattacharyaMansiHindi
1975Chupke ChupkeHrishikesh MukherjeeSulekha ChaturvediHindi
1975FaraarShanker MukherjeeMala/AshaHindi
1975Ek Mahal Ho Sapno KaDevendra GoelArunaHindi
1975AmanushShakti SamantaLekhaBengali
1976Ek Se Badhkar EkBrijRekhaHindi
1977Anand AshramShakti SamantaAshaBengali
1978BesharamDeven VermaRinku/MonicaHindi
1979Chuvanna ChirakukalJayanMalayalam
1979DooriyaanBhimsain KhuranaHindi
1981Kalankini KankabatiUttam KumarAparna/KankaBengali
1982Desh PremeeManmohan DesaiBhartiHindi
1983ProtidanPrabhat RoyGouri


1983Gehri Chot - Urf: DurdeshAmbrish Sangal (India), Ehtesham (Bangladesh)ShobhaBengali
1984SunnyRaj KhoslaSitaraHindi
1988AnurodhJayanta BhattarcharyaJaya/MayaBengali
1991Mississippi MasalaMira NairKinnuEnglish
1993Aashiq AwaraUmesh MehraMrs. SinghHindi
1999MannIndra KumarDev's grandmotherHindi
2000DhadkanDharmesh DarshanDev's motherHindi
2002Abar AranyeGoutam GhoseAshim's wife - ApranaBengali
2003Shubho MahuratRituparno GhoshPadmini ChowdhuryBengali
2005Viruddh... Family Comes FirstMahesh ManjrekarSumitra PatwardhanHindi
2006Eklavya: The Royal GuardVidhu Vinod ChopraSuhasinideviHindi
2007Fool and FinalAhmed KhanBhabiHindi
2008Tasveer 8*10Nagesh KukunoorSavithri PuriHindi
2009AntaheenAniruddha Roy ChowdhuryPishimaBengali
2009Morning WalkArup DuttaNeelimaHindi
2009SamaantarAmol PalekarShama VazeMarathi
2010Break Ke BaadDanish AslamAyesha KhanHindi

See also


  1. "Birthday special: Things you may not know about Sharmila Tagore". Mid Day. Retrieved 25 April 2016.
  2. Baljit Rai (1990). Muslim fundamentalism in the Indian subcontinent. B.S. Publishers.
  3. "Sharmila Tagore, for UNICEF". 8 December 2005.
  4. "Sharmila Tagore, India's emblem at Cannes – Times of India".
  5. "TAGORE".
  6. "The Tagore connection!". The Times of India.
  7. Van Gelder, Lawrence (9 November 1990). "At the Movies". The New York Times.
  8. "President confers top honours Pranab urges people to reset moral compass". Telegraph India.
  9. Anurag, K. "Assam: ULFA opposes award to Sharmila Tagore". Rediff.
  10. "The telegraph" (PDF). 1 December 1991.
  11. Zaman, Rana Siddiqui (7 August 2009). "My First Break – Sharmila Tagore". Friday Review Delhi. The Hindu. Chennai, India. Retrieved 4 November 2010.
  12. "Was considered a bad influence on girls: Sharmila Tagore". Indian Expres6 May 2011. Retrieved 19 October 2014.
  13. "Soha Ali Khan wears a bikini for 'Mr Joe B Carvalho'". 16 November 2013. Retrieved 16 November 2013.
  14. Stuff Reporter, "Being Sharmila, all through life", The Hindu, 2006-04-03
  15. Lalit Mohan Joshi & Gulzar, Derek Malcolm, Bollywood, page 20, Lucky Dissanayake, 2002, ISBN 0-9537032-2-3
  16. Various writers, Rashtriya Sahara, page 28, Sahara India Mass Communication, 2002
  17. Manjima Bhattacharjya, "Why the bikini is badnaam", Times of India, 2007-11-25
  18. Avijit Ghosh, "Bollywood's unfinished revolution", The Times of India, 2006-07-02
  19. Subhash K Jha, "Bollywood's 10 hottest actresses of all time, Times of India, 2003-01-19
  20. B. K. Karanjia, Blundering in Wonderland, page 18, Vikas Publishing House, 1990, ISBN 0-7069-4961-7
  21. "Like mom Sharmila Tagore, Soha Ali Khan dons a bikini in Mr Joe B Carvalho". India Today. 19 November 2013. Retrieved 19 November 2013.
  22. B. K. Karanjia, Blundering in Wonderland, page 18, Vikas Publishing House, 1990, ISBN 0-7069-4961-7
  23. Sumita S. Chakravarty, National Identity in Indian Popular Cinema, 1947–1987, page 321, University of Texas Press, 1993, ISBN 0-292-75551-1
  24. Preeti Mudliar, "Without Cuts Archived 13 January 2009 at the Wayback Machine", Pune Newsline, 2005-04-11
  25. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 22 February 2014. Retrieved 23 July 2012.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  26. Malhotra, A. P. S. (8 August 2013). "Raja Rani (1973)" via
  27. "India Runway Week 2016: Mother-daughter duo Sharmila -Soha to walk the ramp". 13 September 2016.
  28. "To Saif with love: Soha & Saba".
  29. "India's legendary cricketer Tiger Pataudi passes away at 70". Retrieved 22 September 2011.
  30. ESPNcricinfo staff (6 November 2012). "Recognise India-England series as Pataudi Trophy". Cricinfo. Retrieved 6 November 2012.
  31. "Padma Awards Announced". Government of India. 25 January 2013. Retrieved 10 October 2015.
  32. Sharmila Tagore on IMDb
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