Her career as an actress began in 1959, when she was 14 years old, in the film Apur Sansar, which was produced by Satyajit Ray. Satyajit Ray had to shout at her to take instructions but he was impressed with her acting. He cast her for other films, often putting her to star alongside Soumitra Chatterjee. Other directors paired her with Rajesh Khanna, for example in Safar (1970) and Daag (1973).
In 1964, she became popular when she starred in Kashmisr Ki Kali by Shakti Samanta. Other films by Samanta which she starred in include An Evening in Paris (1967), Aradhana (1969), Amar Prem (1972) among others. In 1975, she starred in Mausam, a film by Gulzar. 1991 saw her getting a supporting role in Mississippi Masala as the mother of the heroine Sarita Choudhary.
In her latest release film; Eklavya: The Royal Guard, Tagore shares the screen with her real life son Saif Ali Khan. He has been an actor since 1993, when she helped to launch him as a leading man in Aashiq Awara.
Tagore converted to Islam and married Mansoor Ali Khan and changed her name to Begum Ayesha Sultana. The couple has three children.
Tagore has been awarded many times including the Lifetime Achievement Award (Actress) in 2007-2008 by the Journalist Association of India. Her previous awards include National Film Award for Best Actress (1976), Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award (1997), Star Screen Lifetime Achievement Award (2003) among others.