Sharmila Tagore’s marriage with the cricketer Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi was definitely that of opposites. It was not just that their faiths were different, everything from their professions to personalities were disparate. Mansoor Ali was the blue-eyed Nawab of princely state of Pataudi, while Sharmila Tagore was the pretty Bollywood actress best known during that era for her bikini act in the film An Evening In Paris (1967). Sharmila’s parents also hailed from a middle-class family, and were doubtful if their daughter’s marriage would last. But as it turned out, the Sharmila-Mansoor Ali not just lasted forever but even flourished beyond everyone’s wildest guesses. So what has been their love story like? We take a look.
The Cricket Playing Prince And The Bollywood Princess
Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi was born on 5th January 1941 in Bhopal as the ninth Nawab (Prince) of the state of Pataudi in Haryana. While he had his early education at premium educational institutions in India, he later went to Oxford England for his higher studies. He started playing cricket when he was still in England, and then made his debut for India at Sussex, England in 1957 at the age of 16. In 1961, he was involved in a brutal car crash, while still in England, which left his right eye’s vision permanently impaired. Despite that he continued to playing cricket with one eye, eventually reaching the helm of Indian cricket team by becoming its captain in 1962. He went on to play cricket for next many years eventually retired in mid-1970s.
In September 2011, Mansoor Ali was rushed to a hospital after he suffered a bout of lung infection. On the same day, he suffered a respiratory failure, and passed away. He was 70 years old.
Sharmila Tagore was born on 8th December 1946 in Hyderabad to a Bengali father and Assamese mother. Sharmila had her early education from West Bengal and was only 13-year old when she made her debut in films with Satyajit Ray’s film Apur Sansar (The World of Apu) in the year 1959. That marked her foray in the film world, and she quit studies to focus on her film career instead. She made her debut in Hindi films opposite Shammi Kapoor in the film Kashmir Ki Kali in the film in the year 1964. She soon became a sought after actress in Hindi cinema, and reached the zenith of popularity, with the film An Evening In Paris (1967) in which donned a bikini – a novel and bold thing for an actress to do during that era.
She won several accolades throughout her career for her noteworthy performances and in 2009 was chosen to be the part of the jury for the Cannes Film Festival. Sharmila continued to stay active in films as recent as 2010, but later went into a retirement mode after the death of her husband in 2011.
Smitten By One Another
Sharmila and Mansoor Ali first met one another at a cricket match at New Delhi in the year 1965 when he was heading the Indian side. Mansoor Ali was not an avid film watcher, and thus had little clue about who exactly Sharmila Tagore was. They two were introduced to one another at the end of the match at the visitor’s lobby by a group of common friends, and Mansoor Ali was outright smitten by Sharmila. While Sharmila did not reciprocate the sentiment immediately, she surely found him quite charming, which is no wonder since he was a prince.
Post their first meeting they went back to their respective worlds but Mansoor Ali made it a point to stay in touch with the cute dimpled beauty, who had become a leading actress in Hindi cinema. Their first meeting marked the beginning of Mansoor Ali’s ardent pursuit to woo the woman who had just stolen his heart. In fact there are various stories pertaining to their courtship period – from the saying that he gifted her a refrigerator to the fact that he would frequently send her a bouquet of roses almost every other day. While Sharmila liked him, she never thought of him as a life partner, which is mainly due to the fact that they came from totally opposite professions.
Perseverance Pays Off
Mansoor Ali was not someone who would give up easily; after all he was a Nawab. It is said that by 1967 even Sharmila Tagore had softened to Mansoor Ali, and she almost said ‘Yes’ to his advances. But by that time everyone at their home had got a whiff of their affair, and coincidentally the same year Sharmila Tagore appeared in a single piece bikini in the film An Evening In Paris (1967). The society was not that liberal back then, even by tinsel town standards, and Sharmila’s bikini act surely did not go down well with many. Needless to say, Mansoor Ali’s parents were vehemently against the decision of their son marrying a film actress, on the same time Sharmila’s parents were not sure if a relationship with a royal family would work out. But the love between the pair was palpable, and eventually they agreed.
After receiving their respective parents’ approval the couple went for a vacation to Paris, which is where Mansoor Ali proposed to Sharmila to which she invariably assented. It was time for an illustrious wedding.
Together And Made For Each Other
Sharmila Tagore and Mansoor Ali got espoused on 27th December 1969 in a true royal fashion and style at Pataudi. Sharmila Tagore wore the royal bridal attire for the wedding, which was later even worn by her daughter-in-law Kareena Kapoor when she tied the knot with Saif Ali Khan.
Sharmila and Mansoor Ali had utter respect and faith in one another’s professions and believed that the best way they can make their marriage work is let each other live their individual lives. Post-marriage, Sharmila continued to work in films with zero interference by her husband. In fact she even put herself in some glamorous characters but Mansoor Ali never raised any objection. Guess that is what was the secret behind the success of their marriage, which was often touted to be something that would crumble soon. Sharmila and Mansoor Ali were eventually blessed with three children, a son Saif Ali Khan (b. 1970), and two daughters Saba Ali Khan (b. 1976) and Soha Ali Khan (b. 1978).
The couple stayed together in wedlock for 42 years, and it was truly a marriage that lasted till death did them apart, when Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi passed away on 22nd September 2011. Mansoor Ali Khan was laid to rest at his native royal dominion of Pataudi, where his forefathers were also buried. After his death, Sharmila retired from films, making sparing public appearances thereafter.
Sharmila Tagore and Mansoor Ali Khan’s marriage proved that love sees no colour, caste or creed. It just needs two individuals committed to one another through the ups and downs of life, while respecting each other’s decision all throughout the journey. They proved every skeptic and detractor of their marriage wrong, and showed the world that love among celebrities need not always be fickle-minded.
There were times when people used to hold bets on the longevity of their marriage. Guess those who placed their cards on ‘forever’ are still basking in their selection.
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