They shared screen space in one of their best films Anupama and Sharmila Tagore still remembers that experience with Shashikala. “Shashikalji was already a much-experienced actress whereas I was relatively new when we did Anupama together. It was Hrishida who cast her in a very positive role in Anupama because Hrishida always saw the good in every character. Otherwise Shashikalaji had been typecast as the negative woman, so much that I once heard that during an outdoor shooting the heroine was allowed to use the bathroom in a friendly local’s home, but not Shashikalaji. This is evidence of how convincingly she played the bad woman and how convinced the audience becomes on seeing the on-screen image. I remember once I was shooting on location. After the shot I unthinkingly took off my wig, and there was collective gasp among the onlookers,” recalls Sharmilaji.
Sharmilaji is all praise for Shashikala in Anupama. “She played a warm-hearted talkative extrovert. I was the introvert. She complemented my character so well.”
She doesn’t remember much interaction with Shashikala during Anupama or Devar. “It’s strange. We were all together during the outdoor shootings. But I don’t have much recollection of interacting with her during the shooting of Anupama or Devar. Shashikalaji was also a prominent part of another film Choti Bahu where I played the lead. During this film I remember interacting a lot with Nirupa Royji because her son had damaged his eye (Sharmilaji’s husband Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi had a damaged eye). But I can’t remember similar conversations with Shashikalaji.”
What Sharmilaji remembers is Shashikala’s second phase as an actress. “She moved to Pune and did very successful roles and films in Marathi. Like Bengali cinema Marathi cinema has a lot of literary resources to fall back on. She was offered brilliant versatile roles and I really like the work she did in Marathi. That said, I wish Hindi cinema had not typecast her. But then that’s the way it is.”
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