What Sharmila couldn’t do in her time, Kareena manages easily

Updated: Oct 13, 2012, 20:12 PM IST

Shomini Sen

Times are truly changing. As one of the most sought-after heroines of our generation, Kareena Kapoor, is all set to enter holy matrimony with her long time boyfriend, Saif Ali Khan, she surely is setting a few trends for the future generation.

Saif, now the Nawab of Pataudi, is a Muslim. And while everyone expected Kareena to follow in her mother-in-law, actress Sharmila Tagore’s footsteps and convert to Islam, Kareena has maintained that she will remain a Hindu even after marriage. And husband-to-be Saif Ali Khan seems to be in agreement and supports her decision wholeheartedly.

But unlike Kareena, Sharmila during her wedding, perhaps did not get her husband or her in-laws’ support and had to convert to Islam. Sharmila was also the reigning queen of Box Office when she decided to marry the handsome cricketer and Nawab of Patuadi, Mansoor Ali Khan. There was reluctance from both the families, unlike in Saif and Kareena’s case, where the parents are a lot more open to the idea of inter-faith marriage. And there was much convincing that needed to have been taken care of before getting the nod of approval.

It is believed that Sharmila’s mother-in-law, Sajida Sultan, Begum of Bhopal wasn’t keen on getting a ‘sexy siren who wore bikinis and worked in films’ daughter-in-law. The matriarch also had insisted that if the wedding had to take place, Sharmila would have to convert to Islam so that her children have a right on the Patuadi property. Sharmila did so and became Ayesha Sultan. The actress also left films for a while but came back to give some memorable performances on celluloid.

Saif’s first wife, actress Amrita Singh had also converted to Islam. A Sikh by religion, Amrita had converted to Islam when she had had a secret wedding with Saif way back in 1991. But Kareena would be setting a new trend perhaps by following her own faith even after marriage. The Kapoor girl has since childhood been exposed to Hinduism as well as Christianity as her maternal grandmother was a Catholic.

Kareena’s decision also reflects the changing tide in the Indian society, where religion and faith are being confined to one’s own self and not being thrust upon people. What a moderately-liberal Sharmila couldn’t do back in the 1960s, five decades later, her daughter-in-law is getting to do very easily and no one seems to be having any reservations. In spite of being a Nawab now, fiancé Saif openly supports her decision and says, “I would never want her (Kareena) to change her religion. That is the trouble with religion really... it expects conversion. I don`t buy or believe that. I think it`s good that the government, too, has - unless I`m misinformed about the law - amended to include it in the Special Marriages Act. If and when we do get married, no one has to change his or her religion.”

Kareena, although is keen on adding the Khan surname to her name, maintains that that won’t stop her from celebrating her own festivals or practicing her own faith or visiting the church which she has been going to since childhood.

Would that affect the extended Pataudi Khandaan? Would Kareena’s children not be eligible to inherit their father’s property or royal titles like Sarah and Ibrahim? Maybe, but with changing laws and times, the titles and patronage to royals would become obscure, and perhaps, disappear.