Sharmila Tagore recently flew down to Bhopal in order to settle a property dispute. But the veteran actress apparently had to call for police escort in order to get out of the palace.
It seems that matters got out of hand when some agitators gathered outside to register their protest against antique items being removed from the palace.
Says a source, "The Flagstaff House is an ancestral property of late Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi, whose mother was the daughter of the last Nawab of Bhopal, Hamidullah Khan.
Recently, members of the royal family had initiated efforts to distribute its belongings, including artifacts, among themselves. But a city-based organisation has now opposed the taking away of antique items from the Flagstaff House Palace. "
The source adds that though Sharmila wants to sell the Flagstaff House, that is situated in the Ahmedabad Palace in Koh-e-Fiza area of Bhopal, her move has been opposed by a few of her relatives.
"Those opposing the sale and shifting of belongings of the Flagstaff House have come together under the banner of Sahara Samajik Uthhan Samiti. A petition filed by some of Bhopal's local citizens was heard in the high court on Wednesday. The next hearing will be on May 6," says the source.
Apparently, it was the chairman of the Samiti who had planned to stage a protest on Wednesday, but he failed to arrive at the venue on time.
"However, a large number of mediapersons had already gathered outside when Sharmila went there to collect some artifacts. The actress then called the police to escort her out of the palace to the nearby hotel, following which the police sent a team to ensure that she got out safely," says the source.
A source from Bhopal confirmed that the actress had sought police escort. Sharmila Tagore refused to comment on the issue saying, "I don't want to talk about it."
Artifacts at the Flagstaff House are said to include a wide variety of items; over the years, many items have either been stolen or sold. "Many tables, books and artefacts at the Flagstaff House were used as props in the Merchant-Ivory production, In Custody," says a source. The film was shot years ago at various locations in Bhopal.
Items recovered in the outhouse include:
> Silver coated deewans
> Silver bowls inscribed with holy verses
> A chair belonging to the last Begum ruler
> Dinner sets including silver utensils
> An emerald statuette
> Anklets with exquisite jaali (lattice) work
> A thussi necklace
> A collection of books from the Begum Nawab's era