Bollywood legend comes to Naperville
By David Sharos For The Sun July 12, 2012 9:18PM
Bollywood film legend Sharmil Tagore (right) arrives at the Wentz Concert Hall in Naperville on Thursday, July 12, 2012. | Donnell Collins~For Sun-Times Media
A look at a legend
Some facts about Indian film icon Sharmila Tagore:
First film: “The World of Apu” in 1959
Controversy: In 1967, she was the first Indian actress to appear in a bikini in a film.
Top billing: In 2003 she was named one of “Bollywood’s 10 hottest actresses of all time” by the Times of India.
Awards: Many, including the Star Screen Lifetime Achievement Award and the Lifetime Achievement National Award from the Journalists Association of India
Updated: August 14, 2012 6:30AM
A Bollywood legend came to North Central College Thursday night as Indian film star Sharmila Tagore, 65, talked about her life on the silver screen.
Tagore’s presentation included autobiographical snippets, her early work with famous Indian film-maker Satyajit Ray, but mostly her views on 100 years of Bollywood. During her career she has made nearly 50 films.
“I think we have broken through barriers that were, up to now, not possible to break through because now we have the technology, marketing, inventors, and other things,” Tagore said.
She noted that Indian films are becoming more popular than ever around the world. There are many reasons for that, she said.
“Bollywood has expanded thanks to the multiplex theaters and new technologies, and there is more of a movement among younger groups where we are seeing an explosion of new cinema and new themes,” Tagore said. “There is a huge audience today in India and a new generation of new producers and young directors.”
Tagore arrived about 30 minutes late to the event due to traffic issues.
Fans accepted Tagore’s apology for being late and clearly were eager to see someone many said they had worshipped for years.
“I can remember watching her as far back as I can remember,” said Shalini Kumar, who lives in Naperville. “She was one of the first people in movies that mesmerized me. I’ve had to watch most of her movies here in the States on DVD, but it’s really exciting to have her here in our hometown.”
Prema Subamanian, a friend of Kumar’s who said she was visiting from India, described Tagore as “a charming lady” who could act in serious as well as comedic roles.
“I find her to be very graceful and I know that two of her children are in movies and are very popular,” she said. “She was seen as one of the breakout actresses in her day.”
Tagore is in the area as part of an ongoing festival currently under way in Chicago being staged by Eye on India, a non-profit group that is offering Indian cultural events for the second year in Chicago.
President of Eye on India Anuradha Behari praised Naperville and North Central College for its willingness to offer cross-cultural events and said that Tagore’s appearance in Naperville was organized to “bring a cultural event to the suburbs.”
“Sometimes the events we have in the city don’t work out the same in the suburbs and some people aren’t able to get to the city to see them,” Behari said. “Naperville is so diverse and it has one of the largest Indian populations in the country. We would love to continue to collaborate with institutions like North Central College, who love the idea of reaching out to India.”
Behari agreed with Tagore’s assessment of the growth of Bollywood, which has been driven by the growth of multiplex theaters and the explosion of new themes. Youngsters like Ayaan Asthana, 12, and his sister Ananya, 10, of Burr Ridge agreed that Indian films are slowly making their way into the American consciousness. Tagore is one reason for that.
“She’s done movies for more than 50 years, and has done more in India than any other actor,” Ananya added. “For that reason, we had to see her.”