Cold wars between two actresses in the times gone-by were not unheard-of. It is said that when Sharmila Tagore and Raakhee worked together in Yash Chopra’s Daag, Yash Chopra had to pamper both the heroines individually and make them feel special, as the leading man Rajesh Khanna was apparently busy playing one heroine against the other.
Five years earlier to Daag, in 1968, Sharmila was part of another cold war with yet another heroine, Mala Sinha. The two were cast as Joy Mukherjee’s heroines in Humsaya which Joy directed and cast himself in a double role. Hence two heroines. The experience turned out be anything but a ‘Joy’ for its two leading ladies. Apparently, Mala Sinha and Sharmila Tagore were warring from the word go. They fought for the best dialogues and best songs. They compared each other’s clothes and each made sure the other actress arrived on the set first. Joy kept them apart as long as he could. But finally they had to shoot together for that big confrontation sequence.
And it was hell, with both heroines checking out each other clothes, dialogues, close-ups , etc. Finally, while trying to do their sequence, something snapped and Mala Sinha, the more of senior of the two actresses, slapped Sharmila. We have no clue how poor Joy managed to shoot the sequence. Many years later I did ask both the actresses about the incident. As expected both denied it. Mala Sinha told me, “Such loose talk was a part of the effort to create some publicity for the film. I would ever raise my hand on a co-star or anyone else.” But in the same interview, Malaji also denied any affair with Biswajeet the co-star with whom she nearly 20 films.
To this day, the talk persists. That the slap did happen. I can’t see Malaji being invited for Taimur’s wedding.