Sharmila Tagore: So many scripts are written for elderly male actors but not for female actors

Sharmila Tagore feels there are very few scripts written keeping in mind "elderly" heroines.
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Veteran Bollywood actress and former Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) head Sharmila Tagore feels there are very few scripts written keeping in mind "elderly" heroines, while the same is not true for their male counterparts.

"So many scripts are written for elderly male actors; these things are not happening for female actors. The girls have to be very young and the man can carry on forever," Sharmila, 72, told IANSintelephonic interview from Mumbai.

"One has to accept that life doesn't stop there (at a young age). In my time, life stopped at 30 or 40, but it doesn't have to because life carries on and there are a lot of interesting phases in life which they (the audience) might like," added the actress, who had made her acting debut at the age of 13 with Satyajit Ray's "Apur Sansar" (World of Apu), the last in the celebrated Apu trilogy.

She went on to receive many awards, including multiple National Awards, for her strong portrayals in films like "Mausam" and "Abar Aranye". Her other powerful roles include "Nirjan Saikate", "Anupama", "Kashmir Ki Kali", "An Evening In Paris" and "Aradhana". She is also the recipient of the Padma Bhushan.

Sharmila still faces the camera once in a while, and she has observed changes in the industry.

"When we were working, acting was not considered a very good profession.... now that has changed. From then to now, films have become a very coveted profession and the roles of women are getting stronger. Films like 'Piku' and 'Neerja' being made and doing well proves that," she said.

She also feels that while the multiplex culture has helped filmmaking evolve, it has taken away the charm of the big screen phenomenon.

"In our time, when two or three big films were ready -- for example, films of Dilip Kumar or Raj Kapoor --then smaller films had to wait for their release. But now, films like 'Newton' get released, a 'Masaan' gets released and get a good niche audience.

"The screen phenomenon that we had, that was really wonderful to see... watching films with mixed crowds. Multiplexes don't get that because you have a very niche, elite crowd, nevertheless it has helped filmmaking," she added.

Sharmila also noted the audience's "healthy appetite for diversity".

"In my time, heroines couldn't do a negative role, but now you can and people accept you. So, I think, Indian films are in a very good place. Today, heroines get to play more varied roles," she added.

The actress will be honoured with the Excellence in Cinema India Award at the opening ceremony of the 19th edition of the Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival here on October 12.

She also had a successful tenure as the head of CBFC in the past and feels there is need for an environment where filmmakers can create content "without feeling worried".

"The first three days of the film are very important. If there is a ban or some kind of threat and the audience does not come to theatres, it can harm a film. Naturally, filmmakers get very worried about the film.

"There are certain films that cannot be passed (by the censor board) and they take precautions, but we should create an environment where people can create films without getting worried; we should work towards freedom of speech and less on curbing it," said Sharmila.

Focusing on certification is the best solution over censorship, she feels. "If you feel it's very adult in content, give it an 'A' certificate. (But) allow a film to be released without cuts," said Sharmila, adding that the current CBFC chairperson Prasoon Joshi is "liberal" in thought.


the elderly male actors are too busy romancing infantile young actresses. and the elderly female actresses are usually playing their mother!

Stop cribbing. There have been good roles for women too. Problem is that mediocre actresses who became old do not want to accept roles of an aged woman. Jaya Bachchan in KHNH, Hema Malini in BHTB, Waheeda ji and many did good character roles after they passed their prime. Sharmila, Saif, Kareena, Soha, Rishi need to stop cribbing. We all know they are very mediocre at acting.

Hi Shahid, she is not cribbing, it's called a woman with an opinion.

It's not called "cribbing" when you are speaking out about the current true state of affairs. Talking about nepotism is not cribbing, its bad for the public, it's bad for the film industry and it's bad for business when you have mediocre movies with mediocre talent and so it should be discussed. Speaking about how there are not a lot of movies made for older women is the truth, there are not and there should be more. Jaya in Kal Ho Na Ho had a very small role as the role of a mother, they are only ever cast as mother figures when there are much more diverse roles they can play. It may be news to you but people over the age of 40 and 50 still have sex, some are unmarried, some are gangsters and in the mob, some are businesswomen and have careers, some are looking for love, some are serial killers, some are drug addicts like there are SO many roles that are made in Hollywood for women but in Bollywood they are just the "old lady mom". Where is a biopic on Indira Ghandhi? Sharmila could totally rock that, or a movie about being a famous chef or architect. In Hollywood you have Angelica Huston and Meryl Streep and Helen Mirren that are all still playing diverse roles.

That’s true. It’s male dominated. Even audience support male actors

You can definitely get a writer and a director with the amount of money that you have. Why not you initiate it. Just do it :-)

Well Said. She's amazing. Would love to see more of her in movies!

I want a road trip movie with sharnila tagore, zeenat aman, asha parekh, shabana azmi

Here's another thing though - road trip stories and Dil Chahta Hai stories will happen with men - but WEDDING related stories will happen with women. It's like the only story that's relevant to women is when it's a wedding (this happens in Hollywood also to an extent - Bridesmaids, and many other chick flicks specifically related just to weddings.)

Love her she's a loving mom grandma and equally loving mother in law. From beginning sharmila has openly supported bebo and never put restrictions on her as a mother in law and has treated her like her own daughter and has even gone to say that Saif is very lucky to get bebo in his life and if he takes her for granted he'll have her to deal with. Now that bebo has a beautiful baby she's back to shooting and is in Delhi at the moment shooting which is where Saif mom and sister stays so while she is busy shooting her mother in law is taking care of taimur. Bebo is truly lucky

Maybe we'll get to see her with taimur and inaaya on taimur birthday. Eagerly waiting for their photos.

Can't wait to see photo of her with her new grandkids

I'd love to see her play role of bebo mother or mother in law onscreen or see her with bebo in a malabar campaign. Love this saas bahu jodi. May Allah bless the whole family with good health happiness and loads of success and may he keep them away from all evil eyes ameen.

the classiest lady and now grandma in town. she's so supportive with all her kids and their spouses but never interferes. we need more women like you.

If Amitabh still can act why not Sharmila ji? BW is so sexist

I love to see her with Taimur

I don’t know why whenever I see this elegant woman I think of Jaya Bachchan and the differences between them.

Either she is controlling and aggressive or Aishwarya is not a good wife or bahu. Both are women. So what does it mean when you say always blame women?

poor Jayaji. not everything is her fault. always blame the woman!

I just mean that we don't really know anything about their family dynamics. Why does everyone assume Jaya B is the bad guy. Could be AB or AB Jr too. I think Jaya B is a very dignified person and she has held the family together for a long time, taking a backseat in her career despite being such a fine actress. So why is she so different from Sharmila?

She's still so beautiful

I just love her

So true

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