When the Nawab of Pataudi – Late Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi – wrote a Ghalib couplet to impress Sharmila Tagore, the actress, who had limited knowledge of Urdu, thought that it was Pataudi who had penned those lines.
She talking about her relationship with Urdu at a session at the Jashn-e-Rekhta festival in Delhi. Sharmila said, “I will tell you about an incident to make you understand my limitation of Urdu. When I was shooting with Feroze and I told him, ‘You know what, Tiger has written this beautiful thing for me – dil-e-nadan tujhe hua kya hai, aakhir is dard ki dawa kya hai’. So Feroze Khan said, ‘You idiot woman, this is Ghalib, for god’s sake! So from there to now, I have progressed a little.”
Stressing how bad she was with her pronunciation, Sharmila added, “When I met Tiger, he introduced me to Begum Akhtar and Talat Mehmood. I had been listening to Begum Akhtar the whole day and saying to Shashi Kapoor, ‘Khuda Hafiz’, and he would say, ‘half ‘his’ and half mine'” (to correct her pronunciation).