'I am very impressed by Sara though I don't see why her self-confidence should surprise me.'
'Whether it was Koffee With Karan, Rajeev Masand, BBC... her confidence, humility and charm made me so happy.'
'It's so heartwarming to see the way she has turned out.'
The beautiful and elegant Sharmila Tagore turns 74 on December 8.
While she sorely misses her late husband, the legendary cricketer, Mansur Ali Khan 'Tiger' Pataudi, Sharmila is deeply grateful for what life has offered her, especially her grandchildren.
While Taimur and Inaaya are little stars, a new star is born in the family: Sara Ali Khan, who debuted in Kedarnath the day before.
She counts her blessings and tells Subhash K Jha, "There is nothing like young children's energy. They are always curious and enthusiastic."
Sharmilaji, what are you doing this birthday?
Not very much, I'm afraid.
Some friends will drop in. Soha is coming.
Saba and Saif will also come if they can.
The one thing that has changed in the past one year is the presence of two beautiful grandchildren.
Yes, it certainly adds to my happiness.
I see them as much as I can, but not enough because we live in different cities.
They re-energise me.
There is nothing like young children's energy.
They are always curious and enthusiastic.
So yes, being around Taimur and Inaaya makes me really happy. I wish I could be with them more often.
You were a phenomenal combination of mother and actress in your heyday.
I was in the last phase of my pregnancy (with Saif) during Safar and Choti Bahu and quite unwell.
During Besharam, I was pregnant with Saba.
You now have more time for your grandchildren than you did for your children.
Yes, that's true.
The kind of time pressures that I tackled earlier are no more there though I do keep myself busy with professional commitments like the random ad here and a cinema conference there.
I definitely have more time not for just my grandchildren, but also my children.
I have also more time for our ancestral home in Pataudi.
Are you still keen on a bio-pic on your husband, the late Nawab of Pataudi?
Well, it will depend on who the captains of the ship are, the producers and director.
It is a good story, I think, with all the twists and the turns in his life, like his father's death, losing his eye after which his average came down from 60 to 30.
To receive such a blow at such a young age... I don't think anyone else has been able to make those adjustments and that kind of an impact with one eye.
He not only batted, but also fielded after the eye accident.
I think he was a wonderful sportsperson.
God knows, what he'd have achieved if he had both his eyes.
He had a wonderful temperament.
He absorbed that loss and moved ahead.
Tiger's life was filled with losses, like his father (Iftikhar Ali Khan Pataudi played cricket for England and for India and died on his son's 11th birthday), his eye, his privy purse (in 1969 then prime minister Indira Gandhi's government abolished privy purses, the annual amount which the first Government of India agreed to pay the royal families for agreeing to integrate with India).
Soha has written so well about her father in her book (The Perils Of Being Moderately Famous).
Any man who wins you over has to be special?
(Laughs) I don't know about that, but I learnt so much from him.
I miss him immensely.
I wish he was here for me.
So many of my friends are still together with their soulmates. You see your friends celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary... but it was not meant to be (for me).
But you have a lot to be thankful for.
Oh yes! I do practice active gratitude. I am deeply grateful for what life has given me.
Would you like Saif to play his father?
No, let them (the film-makers) decide. Maybe Saif can be in one phase of the story. His (Tiger Pataudi's) story has so many phases.
Even a good documentary is a good idea.
Unfortunately, there isn't too much footage on Tiger available.
Sharmilaji, there is a lot of talk about women's safety these days. What made you so strong, independent and non-vulnerable in your heyday?
Probably my family background.
We have always had strong women in my family.
Also, I had the self-confidence.
I wasn't career-oriented.
I liked the work and enjoyed it.
But I had other interests. I had a strong sense of self derived from my family, and perhaps that kept me from harm's way.
I also had a very protective hairdresser in Neena who always checked my behaviour. She was always saying, 'Why are you doing this? Why are talking so loudly?'
Neena was my constant companion at outdoor shootings. She gave me a lot of perspective.
How do you feel about the #MeToo movement?
I don't want to comment on it.
I don't see how my two bits can contribute to the discussion.
I have always supported the feminist movement, but this naming and shaming... I really don't know.
We cannot possibly wrap up this interview without...
(Interrupts) Without talking about Sara (Ali Khan)?
Yes, I am so excited about her debut (in Kedarnath).
I am very impressed by her though I don't see why her self-confidence should surprise me.
Whether it was Koffee With Karan, Rajeev Masand, BBC... her confidence, humility and charm made me so happy.
It's so heartwarming to see the way she has turned out.
When asked what she is doing in films after going to Columbia University, she said the education was for her growth as a person and not for a career.
She is never tongue-tied.
How well she stood up for her father on Karan Johar's show! I am really proud of her.
Your grandson, the biggest Khan superstar, Taimur.
(Laughs) I must confess I am worried about him a bit.
In this family, we have all had our share of media attention.
They place you on a pedestal and then suddenly drop you.
At the moment, Taimur is not affected because he is too young to understand what's going on.
When he is older and if the attention is taken away, he might get affected. So we are a little concerned.
But as Sara said, what can we do about it?
Frankly, without the media, we are not alive in today's day and age.
Taimur fields the media better than all of you.
(Laughs) He is innocent and young.
Let's hope he won't be adversely affected.
I'd like to request the media to be more sensitive to him.