Tagore surname opened many doors for me: Sharmila Tagore

New Delhi, Nov 13 (IANS) The Tagore surname is a great privilege and it has opened up many doors for her, renowned thespian Sharmila Tagore has said, referring to her lineage stretching to Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore and beyond.

“I have this wonderful surname Tagore, which is my heritage, which has opened many doors for me. Its been really a privilege to born in this wonderful household. He unfortunately died in 1941 and I was born in 1944, I missed him by three years,” she said at the launch of the book ‘Shades of Difference: Selected Writings of Rabindranath Tagore’ (Social Science Press) here.

“Gaganendranath Tagore was my great grandfather. My grandfather was the last one to wear the ‘jobba’ (long robe) as Tagore wore. Rabindranath Tagore taught my mother at Santiniketan and she had lots and lots of stories to say about him,” she added.

The 71-year old veteran of celebrated Bengali and Hindi films and mother of actors Saif Ali Khan and Soha Ali Khan recollected that her mother had all Tagore books signed by the poet with little notes. “In my effort to show off I took some of them to school and lost some of them. My mother forgave me. One them was first edition of “Gora” (a Tagore classic). It was so annoying.”

Reminiscing how she was introduced to this great poet of all time, Sharmila said: “I was all off 11 years when I was introduced to Tagore. In class I was asked to write a poem. I came home and went straight for mother’s book shelf and found a book “Adhunik Kobita Sankalan” (A collection of modern poems).

“I went through it and chose a poem that I liked and copied it! And took it to the school the next day. The teacher asked me ‘Have you written this’? I said, yes. Guess what it was! It was ‘Proshno’ (Question) by Rabindranath Tagore! A difficult poem. Offcourse, I was punished and I had to stand in front the classes who (sic) were younger than I was.

“But I then thought that it was to my credit that I chose this poem,” maintained Sharmila at the event hosted by Institut Francais Thursday evening.

The book that was launched also comes with a DVD, which has paintings, doodles, music of Rabindranath Tagore among many other things.

This book speaks about Rabindranath Tagore’s attempt to approach the central impulse of contradiction. “Basically how he addressed the desire for unity and the desire to respect differences and heterogeneity and how to reconcile contraries and arrive at a vision of harmony without obliterating everybody’s uniqueness, individuality,” Radha Chakravarty, the book’s editor, told IANS.

There is a strong sense of value in the way he thinks about differences, Chakravarty, a well known chronicler of Tagore’s works, said.

Tagore scholar, Frenchman Samuel Berthet, described Tagore as a reformer, who broke the stereotyped thinking about women as only mother, daughter and wife and said Tagore celebrated women in their companionship role by courting creative women in many parts of the world.

“His interest for the downtrodden was not only philanthropy.” Berthet also mentioned how Tagore had started collateral free micro credit for the farmers.

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