My Fundays 10-02-2010

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By SHARMILA TAGORE An acclaimed actress, She acted in her first film at 13. From Bengali art films to Bollywood potboilers, She's done it all. And now she's back on the silver screen with daughter Soha Ali Khan AS TOLD TO THE TELEGRAPH
  • Published 10.02.10

The best part of my childhood was spent in Calcutta. My father was an engineer and had to move around quite a bit. So my parents decided to admit me at the Diocesan in Calcutta at the age of seven. I lived with my grandparents. It was a joint family and I loved growing up there because I never felt lonely.

I was very possessive about my mother. I wouldn’t allow her to wear sleeveless blouses. I wanted her to wear saris with red borders and put sindoor on her forehead. I didn’t like it if anyone threw colour on her during Holi. My nickname is Rinku. I was six when my sister Tinku was born. I was not at all happy. I used to torture her silently and make her cry. Of course, once we grew up we became very good friends.

Once, when I was in Class III, I copied Rabindranath Tagore’s poem Prashna and told my teacher that I had written it. You can guess what happened; I was punished. When I was 13, I acted in Apur Sansar. Because of this I was asked to leave the school. I left and joined Loreto House in Asansol.

At school I took great interest in extra-curricular activities such as NCC, debating, sports, drama and recitation. I also loved to play badminton and basketball. At home there was no TV, and we loved listening to Akashbani (the national channel on the radio).

There was something to celebrate throughout the year — childbirth, marriage, festivals — something was always happening. On the day of Vishwakarma puja, we’d fly kites; Durga Puja meant dressing up in new clothes and fireworks like tubris were made at home for Kali puja.

Grandpa was a pucca saheb. He’d use a fork and knife at mealtimes. He loved meat, including beef. Grandma didn’t, but she was very tolerant. She’d cook beef for him but wouldn’t eat it herself. She was an excellent cook and I learnt to cook from her.

Once, my long hair was cut off ruthlessly. I was very upset and, to appease me, my family took me to watch the famous Bengali movie Share Chuattor.

I went to Dakshini to learn dance and music. Uday Shankar approached my father to allow me to join his troupe for Shadow Theatre. But I was not allowed to since I was only 10 then.

Dear little friends, please be very serious about studies. But even more important than studying, is to learn to be tolerant and to share.

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