Sharmila Tagore – a fashion icon for sarees even today

A smile is an ornament that brightens the environment all around. The well-chosen attire helps to add to the allure.

A very young girl of thirteen with expressive eyes, prominent dimples and a lovely smile arrived in Bengali Cinema and started with the world-famous director Satyajit Ray’s movie Apur Sansar. Five years later she entered Bollywood with Shakti Samanta’s Kashmir Ki Kali. We all know her as Sharmila Tagore.

Dimpled lady with a welcoming heart-warming smile; Sharmila Tagore is the great granddaughter of Indian Nobel poet Laureate, Rabindranath Tagore. This long-standing actress of Bollywood and Bengali cinema, married the royal Nawab of Pataudi, continued her acting career, receiving many awards and accolades on the way, and kept stepping higher and higher in public life. Leading the Indian Film Censor Board from 2004 to 2011, chosen as UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, she was one of the International Jury members of the 2009 Cannes Film Festival. She received the third highest civilian award in the country, the Padma Bhushan in 2013.


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Sharmila Tagore – the fashion icon for the Indian saree

In 2016, she walked as a showstopper for Designer Rohini Gugnani at India Runway Week. Wow! At 73 and able to carry herself so well in public glare, one can imagine the stuff she is made of, The confidence, the poise, the faith reposed by people in her, speaks volumes about her fashion sense and dressing.  That is seen in a whole lot of images of her in sarees, the Indian garment that best showcases her grace and elegance, taste and attitude.

Incidentally India Runway Week is among the top three fashion week platforms of India and it’s a biannual trade event held especially for young emerging fashion designers in New Delhi, India with Summer edition and Winter Festive edition in a year and Indian Federation for Fashion Development (IFFD) determines the dates.

In September 2016, Seventh season it was a 3 day event with 43 designers and 2 show directors. The second show area was introduced as Fashion Brooder Runway. In this season there was an offsite show where supercars like Ferrari, Audi, Lambogini were used. Among the celebrities spotted at this India Runway Week were Sharmila Tagore, Zeenat Aman, Soha Ali Khan, Mugdha Godse, Esha Gupta and others.

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Unnati Silks salutes Sharmila Tagore for her tremendous personality, the ability to jell so well with those who look upto her, her peers and all around that in fact it would be difficult to find fault with her behavior even by her worst critic, if there was any. We have seen her like for the pure designer chiffons and georgettes but equally comfortable is she with the pure handloom silk pattus of the Benaras or Kanchi type that tend to be heavier. And what about the pure Chanderi silk  or the Bengal soft silks that look very good upon her.  When a person of her stature and carrying abilities dons some clothing it is the attire that gets the attention through her personality and not the other way around. To say that anything looks good upon her would be an understatement. In fact we see that everything looks good upon her, because she makes it look so good and natural.

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On the personal front - A love affair that beat the odds

It was a very beautiful and upcoming actress Sharmila Tagore who debuted in Satayajit Ray’s Apur Sansar in 1959, acted in a few Bengali films before she debuted on the Hindi screen with Kashmir Ki Kali in 1964. Mansoor Ali Khan, the Nawab of Pataudi, youngest cricket captain of India, doing so well in the game in 1965.

She a self-confessed fan of the game, he single, eligible and handsome but with no liking for the movies, when they met through a mutual friend, liked what they saw. He saw before him, a young & beautiful lass, with a mature outlook; she a man playing the game she liked and with a good sense of humour.

The mutual admiration for each other, saw roses and letters being exchanged, gifts and what not before the romance flowered with a ‘yes’ from her after four years of courtship in 1969. During those days in the 60s, it was generally felt that an actress was not good material to tie the knot and she being from a Bengali educated family and he being a royal muslim, the match seemed doomed from the start with the families reluctant at the match and many other wagging tongues predicting a disaster.

In accordance with the custom, Sharmila had converted to Islam, taken on the name of Ayesha Sultana, continued in a good marriage with her loving husband. Both gave each other the healthy space that works wonderfully for good things to last, he not only allowing her a continuation of her Bollywood journey but not looking askance when she donned a swimsuit for An Evening in Paris in 1970 when even the most forward-minded of Indian women in the Hindi movie industry would have hesitated to do. She on her part was the ideal partner for him with her demeanor and grace in accordance with royal conduct.

The marriage lasted 42 years that ended only with the demise of the Nawab in 2011. This tradition of broadmindedness continues even after, with the surviving members of the family.

But that is what we have seen of her climb in her professional life. That apart she had been a wonderful wife to her loving late husband, a perfect match for his fame as the Indian cricket captain and his royal status, is the loving mother for her three children Saif Ali Khan, Saba Ali Khan and Soha Ali Khan and a good mother-in-law to the well-known actress Kareena Kapoor and actor Kunal Kapoor with four grand children to dote over.

Unnati Silks is a woman-centric organization & believes that women have been contributing a lot in Indian society since long. Shop lovely handloom sarees in silk & cotton at great prices at Unnati Silks online. 

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Sharmila’ early life

Born to Gitindranath Tagore and Ira Tagore in Kanpur, both her father and mother were from the Rabindranath Tagore clan. As a girl of 13 studying in school, she also made her film debut. This did not allow her to do well in studies and on the advice of her parents, dropped out of school to join the industry thereon. The eldest of three girls Sharmila had two younger sisters Oindrila and Romila. Oindrila was the first to get into acting with the movie Kabuliwala, her only film. Later she went on to become an international Bridge player. Romila became Romila Sen through marriage to Nikhil Sen, the Chief Operating Officer of Brittania Industries for many years.

Sharmila’s movie career

Sharmila after her first movie Apur Sansar in Bengali in 1959, got her first Hindi movie Kashmir Ki Kali in 1964. Then on it was riding a good wave of hits making it a very successful career throughout her stint as an actress. An Evening in Paris in 1967, Safar in 1970, Maalik, Aradhana and Amar Prem in 1972, Daag in 1973 and so on. People still remember her various roles, so very full of life and yet silently but beautifully done that people eagerly waited for her movies wondering what she could do next. Satyakam, Raja Rani, Mausam and a string of others are where she essayed her various characters so very nicely that she became a beloved of many hearts. Mira Nair's 1991 film Mississippi Masala is where she did a supporting role.

During her professional stint as an actress and while heading various bodies she received very many noteworthy awards

The accolades for Sharmila

Civilian honors

2013 – Padma Bhushan

National Film Awards

1975 – National Film Award for Best Actress — Mausam

2003 – National Film Award for Best Supporting Actress — Abar Aranye

Filmfare Awards

1970 – Filmfare Award for Best Actress — Aradhana

1998 – Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award

Anandalok Awards

2010 - Lifetime Achievement Award 

Screen Awards

2002 - Lifetime Achievement Award

2014 - Sanskriti Kalashree Award, Lifetime Achievement

But more than all this what appeals about her is the way she has gracefully aged in life, still beautiful even in her now beyond mature look, the way she conducts herself in public – with grace and elegance, and lends that extra good word for the Indian saree, in the manner of her choices and how she drapes so correctly in them.

We leave you with more images of Sharmila Tagore in sarees from different occasions for your viewing pleasure. If you like her and want to emulate her do watch the designs, colors and ornamentation of her drapes.