In a country obsessed with cricket and Bollywood, where stars on the field and on screen are worshiped off it as well – long before skipper Virat Kohli and wife Anushka Sharma’s romance, subsequent wedding and posts gave us picture perfect couple goals – there was another, where a Nawab swept a movie star off her feet, in a fairy-tale romance.
Yes, Tiger Pataudi and Sharmila Tagore – a romance just like in the movies. He was the captain of the Indian cricket team, the youngest ever, with a royal lineage. She was the glamorous movie star, with an illustrious background, he knew nothing of her films and she not much about the game.
Tiger Pataudi and Sharmila Tagore met at an after match party in Delhi, in 1965. Something clicked, sparks flew and tabloids went on an overdrive. He was the dapper Oxford graduate, western in his outlook, well-read and traveled. A successful skipper whose love for the game had made him a pay price, he had lost vision in his left eye after an accident on field.
She had made her debut at the age of 13, under Satyajit Ray, soon making her way into Bollywood, she was barely 15 when she did her first Hindi film Kashmir Ki Kali opposite Shammi Kapoor. She was stylish, even considered a sex symbol; well she was the first Indian actress to pose in a bikini on the cover of a magazine in 1967.
They were both successful, unconventional and supportive of the other, so was the road to marital bliss easy? Well no, they were of diverse faiths, which according to the two was not an issue, the concern being his side didn’t think much of the ‘acting profession’, whilst hers was weary of the ‘Nawabs’ and their lifestyles.
They waited for parental approval, and finally married in 1969 – which was quite the affair to remember. But as has always been the case, the media and naysayers had announced, this one wasn’t for keeps, the marriage would be over even before it began. Only to be proved wrong by the couple, time and again.
Sharmila Tagore’s career was on an upswing post marriage, she proved that marriage or motherhood didn’t mean the end of a heroine’s career. Her best works – Aradhana, Amar Prem, and Daag came post the birth of her son Saif. The couple were married for 42 years , till Tiger Pataudi’s death in September 2011.