‘Was at ease the moment the first shot was taken’

The camera has missed Sharmila Tagore as much as she has missed it. After 11 years since Break Ke Baad (2010), the veteran actor returned in front of the lens for Rahul Chittella’s Gulmohar. So, what lured her back to the world of acting? The delightful script, she says. “Working with Manoj Bajpayee was an added attraction,” smiles Tagore, who plays the matriarch of the Batra family in the drama that also stars Suraj Sharma.

Eleven years is a long time to be away from a movie set. Did she feel nervous before the first day of shooting? “Facing the camera felt familiar even after so long. I was a bit thoughtful about how things would work out the night before the shoot began, but the moment the first shot was taken, I felt at ease. We had a table read before filming started, so that broke the ice.”

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The actor, having worked with some of the brightest minds in Indian cinema, believes in moulding herself according to her director’s vision. It’s a lesson she took to the Gulmohar set as well. “I had to [learn from the directors] because I wasn’t a trained actor like Naseeruddin Shah, Shabana [Azmi] or Jaya Bachchan. I was shaped by the directors I worked with — Satyajit Ray, Hrishikesh Mukherjee, Gulzar, and so on. As actors, we are giving voice to the director’s [story]. I tried to do what Rahul asked me to, but if I wanted to do it another way, I would explain to him a day before. I am always feeling doubtful about my own performance, but in this film, I felt completely at ease. That means a lot for an actor.”

The movie marks Tagore’s maiden OTT offering. She notes that a digital movie is not too different from a theatrical offering. “The process of shooting is exactly the same, but the OTT shoot is well-organised.” Actor-son Saif Ali Khan was one of the early birds in Indian digital entertainment. Did she seek his advice before taking on Gulmohar? “No. There are many actors in our family, including Saif, Sara, Soha, Kareena [Kapoor Khan] and Kunal [Kemmu]. We respect each other’s boundaries. We don’t advise one another unless asked.”

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