Written By: Shahid Wafa
“They should have shown the video of her song ‘Roop Tera Mastana’ to pay her a tribute,” responded one of my friends in a pinching tone, when I reported about screening of a short documentary film on the cinematic journey of veteran Indian actress Sharmila Tagore at the inaugural session of Lahore Literary Festival last week.
My friend mentioned about that particular song because of its sensuous picturization. He went on arguing that what was so great about Sharmila that she was given so much importance on the festival. Then he concluded that LLF was just a playful event arranged by the liberals which had no practical significance. While expressing his views, my friend had actually represented the mindset of a big section of our society. So let us analyze it.
Sharmila Tagore is 71 year old Indian lady who achieved glory in every field she went. She once ruled Bengali and Hindi cinema and received highest recognitions including two National Film Awards and two Filmfare Awards. Indian government conferred Padma Bhushan award upon her in 2013 which is the third highest civilian award of republic of India. She led the Indian Film Censor Board for more than six years and in 2005 she was chosen as an UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador by the United Nations.
This overview tells us that her entire life has revolved around art, literature and culture. So if she was invited at a festival which was arranged for the promotion of art and literature, it was not a bad decision at all. Secondly, throughout her life whatever she did and where ever she went, she touched the excellence. So it can be argued that, anyone, whose mind is not stuck in “Roop Tera Mastana” video, can learn a lot from Sharmila Tagore’s life.
Being judgmental and habit of stereotyping others has left us unable to take the advantage of learning opportunities spread everywhere around us. Sharmila Tagore was not here to teach us vulgarity. In the inaugural session of LLF, no one talked about how to be sensuous or how to come out of clothes publically.
She told that her childhood was passed in a joint family where everyone had different point of view. “We gave importance to family values, respected ideas of each other, cherished the relations and this all training helped me reach where I am now.”
See- NO reference to… “Roop Tera Mastana.”
She also talked about Satyajit Ray, one of the greatest filmmakers of twentieth century. She told that his films were a work of art; he never valued money and always focused on humanism.
Another beautiful message – again…there is NO “Roop-Tera-Mastana-type-thing”
She also mentioned that during early days of her career, she constantly switched between Bengali and Hindi films. Films of both languages had entirely different moods just like their respective cities of Calcutta and Bombay were different in their environment and societal norms. So she had to struggle to cope with this situation which eventually made her more adaptable and more successful. Here she gave a lesson of taking challenges and never giving up.
You see, again… NO “Roop Tera Mastana” type “sensuality.”
Significance of Sharmila’s presence at LLF can be understood from the words of renowned Intellectual I.A.Rehman. He emphasized, “Such events tell us that other nations also exist in this world and by interacting with them, we can learn from their experiences and improve our individual lives and society as well.”
Perhaps, only those who live a purpose driven life, can benefit from this ultimate guidance. Rest will wail no matter what.