New Delhi: Mansur Ali
Khan Pataudi's death Thursday brought to an end an enduring
romance. When Sharmila Tagore tied the knot with the erstwhile
royal 42 years ago, it was not only a marriage of cricket and
cinema, but also one that broke many stereotypes.
He was a Nawab from a well-known Muslim family and she was a Hindu
who belonged to the illustrious Tagore family. As she was to admit
many times in later years, Pataudi, popularly known as Tiger,
proved to be an exceptionally liberal companion.
Be it her wearing a bikini in "An Evening In Paris" in 1967, when
they were courting, or taking up glamorous roles after marriage in
1969 and later motherhood - he always stood by her, always the
She once said in an interview, "I haven't given up anything (after
marrying Tiger). He is very liberal in his views. I've gained a
lot of experience and gained another culture, cuisine, and way of
dressing. I've benefited a lot."
Their marriage was not expected to last - she converted, becoming
Ayesha Sultana - but they proved naysayers wrong.
She once told a reporter, "If Tiger and I make attempts to promote
harmony, I do not know how far we will succeed. People will say
that I am not a Muslim and that Tiger is a Hindu fanatic."
The couple had three children - Saif, Saba and Soha - but Tiger
never stopped her from carrying on in showbiz. In fact, she gave
most of her hits after marriage and motherhood.
Many years down the line, when he was arrested for poaching, the
actress stood by her husband like a rock.
Death may have snatched away the man from the woman, but like an
advertisement they did together, in popular imagination - Pataudi
and Sharmila will live on together.