Shakti Samanta’s birth anniversary: Sharmila Tagore says Amar Prem should not be remade – Times of India

The ever-gorgeous Sharmila Tagore had the privilege of working with the prolific and underrated Shakti Samanta in eight films. Out of them Aradhana and Amar Prem were the most iconic.
Speaking on Amar Prem, Sharmilaji remembers, “I had seen the original Bengali film Nishi Padma before doing Amar Prem. Shaktida had made both me and Kaka (Rajesh Khanna) see it. I quite liked the original film. It was more about the woman and her relationship with the child. I had recently become a mother, so it was relatively easy for me to do the motherly character.”

The versatile actress who has worked with directors as diverse as Satyajit Ray and Manmohan Desai, reveals that Rajesh Khanna was not the first choice for Amar Prem. “Kaka’s role was to be done by Raj Kumar. But Kaka who had done Aradhana with me and Shakti Samanta, insisted on being a part of the film.”
Sharmila reveals that Rajesh Khanna had to model his performance in Amar Prem on Uttam Kumar from the original. “Since Uttam Kumar had done such a fabulous job in the original, Shakti-da made Kaka model his performance on the Uttam Kumar. This was one of those films that just turned out right. We were not looking at the box office. We just felt emotionally connected to the characters.”

However the unusual story with no conventional lead pair became a hit and it continues to be liked by new generations. Explains Sharmilaji, “That’s the magic of the story. Also, I’d say a major reason for the film’s success was RD Burman’s music and Anand Bakshi’s lyrics. The music and the words carried the story forward.”

Recalling the film’s premiere Sharmilaji says, “I remember the premiere of Amar Prem was attended by Field Marshall Manickshaw. And the very next day after the premiere the 1971 Indo-Pak war broke out.”

Reminiscing over her hit jodi with Rajesh Khanna Sharmila says, “Kaka and I did many films together. We really worked well together. I was pregnant with Saif during Aradhana and with Soha when Kaka and I did Choti Bahu. Kaka and I had two major problems. He came much too late on the sets and our best profile on camera was the same. So when we were in the same frame together Kaka and I were always trying to get the cameraman to shoot our right profile.”

Sharmilaji is not kicked by the idea of an Amar Prem remake. “Why a remake of Amar Prem? I think the concept of the all-giving all-sacrificing mother-figure is now outdated. I think a woman like the one I played in Amar Prem would be considered quite a loser by today’s generations. Amar Prem with its saga of the sacrificial mother-figure would be hard to connect with today’s audiences. I’d advise Shaktida’s son Ashim Samanta to remake his father’s other’s other film Aradhana which also featured me and Kaka (Rajesh Khanna) in the lead. The subject of an unwed mother remains deeply contemporary.”

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