The grand dame of Bollywood Sharmila Tagore refuted reports that she had been hobnobbing with Hollywood actress Julia Roberts. Sharmila told the PTI, “Nobody from our family went to the Pataudi Palace and we haven’t met her at all. We have leased out that palace to a private company and they rent it out to others. Yes, Julia Roberts is shooting there for her film and that is just another film being shot there like many others.”
Roberts is in India shooting for the film Eat Pray Love, which is based on the memoir of the same name. The film is another in a long line of Hollywood films in which the protagonist comes to India to “find” his or her true self. And while the media has been breathlessly following Roberts’ exploits, such as her incognito visit to the Taj Mahal, the Indian public has been less interested. Roberts’ last big hit Charlie Wilson’s War (2007) barely registered on the public consciousness and it is extremely doubtful that Eat Pray Love will do big business in India. Sharmila’s dismissive attitude towards the rumors reflects the general feeling of the public – Roberts may be a big name in Hollywood but here she is just another American tourist.
Pataudi Palace, the ancestral home of Saif and Soha Ali Khan, has been featured in films before – the most recent being Aamir Khan’s Mangal Pandey, in which the majestic white columns and tree lined garden walks played the role of the British governor’s house.