Birthday Happiness

I’ve had a very enjoyable weekend. I watched two films, The Green Hornet and Anne of the Indies (the former better than reviews made it out to be). I dined at one of Delhi’s best French restaurants. And I bought birthday gifts for myself. Before you start thinking I’m woefully unloved, let me clarify: my relatives often gift me money. On Diwali, Karva Chauth, Christmas, my birthday, etc—I am often given an envelope and told to ‘buy something for yourself’. Since I’m not much of a shopper for clothes and jewellery, and since I already have a huge collection of unwatched DVDs and unread books, this seemed the best alternative. Old lobby cards and film stills. I visited two shops in Delhi, and spent all that money on a handful of lovely old Bollywood photos.

It’ll take me a while to write the review of Anne of the Indies; in the meantime, here’s something for you to feast your eyes upon: scans of the stuff I bought.

First, this one. This is the only one that’s just a still, not a lobby card—so it doesn’t have the name of the film on it. I have no idea which film this is, and though I think the actress is Shashikala, my husband (who, by his own admission, doesn’t know much about old Hindi cinema), doesn’t agree. Any other ideas? If anybody knows which film this is from, I’d welcome that too.

Then, this one (which, coincidentally, is from a film that starred Shashikala): Abe-Hayat. Premnath is so absolutely swoon-worthy here, and Smriti Biswas looks suitably dewy-eyed.

This is from the Talat Mahmood starrer Waaris. The interesting thing about this particular photo is that a  grid has been marked over Talat Mahmood’s face—a standard practice used to make larger, hand-painted copies of a photo; the section in each grid was copied on a larger scale into a proportionately larger grid.

This lobby card is from the film Gustakhi Maaf, starring Sanjeev Kumar and Tanuja (That’s what I call a good cast. I’d love to see the film!) Incidentally, like Sanjeev Kumar’s later hit Angoor, Gustakhi Maaf too is based on Shakespeare’s A Comedy of Errors. The major departure from the original is that in Gustakhi Maaf, it’s the woman who plays a double role—Tanuja plays twins.

And to end, two lobby cards that I especially cherish. This historic one, with the peerless Fearless Nadia, is the oldest one I’ve got, from the film 11 O’Clock (1948).

And this, my absolute favourite, the treasure of my minuscule collection: Helen, in Dr Vidya. Not only is this the largest lobby card I have—it’s 20″ x 24″— it’s also such a gorgeous shot of one of my favourite actresses. Muah, Helen!

Now I have to start saving up again…


73 thoughts on “Birthday Happiness

  1. Wow so many super shots yu managed to get, congrats… believe me, I am the same, any1 wanna give anything, it is always some oldie goldie/s or nuts and almonds, bcos I am regarded a NUT anyway. LOLZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ.

    Wishing yu a very happy bud-day once again and may u have many more to come DO.

    P.S. I am sure the first Images is of smashing Shashikala who I saw a few months ago in a Mall, smashing as ever I tell ya.

    Which movie, that’s a tough nut to crack, but will keep a watch as and when I see her.

    Like I said DO in my mail, wanna see Premnath as the Hero, then Bus Conductor is the one, with Shyama and guess who our fav HELEN is there, just one dance Punjabi style balle balle but top of the Pops… it also stars-
    Amarnath as Villian and,

    who also wrote the story and someday we hope we have a real big write up on him on this g8 all rounder who has been around since 1930’s, a long long era of total devotion and love for the Cinema. Unfort totally forgotten.

    Music – Bipin Babul

    Ok it may be diff to get this movie, so if yu dont, how abt next bud day present, I will release this VHS rip in XVID for yu :0;), yu see we in India have lousy band widths and to put up a VHS rip will take many hours, so a promise for next bud day :)

    Btw how was the advance bud day present :):)…. Jungle Princess ?, do drop a word when yu hv seen it !!!


    • Ash, thank you for the repeated birthday wishes! And yes, your gift is still lying waiting to be watched… I will try to see Jungle Princess within the next couple of weeks. I also have Khota Paisa still in the queue! Oof, so many films, so little time. :-) And yes, re: Bus Conductor: oh, yes, please! I will wait for my next birthday to come along! Thank you!


      • Thats g8 Pacifist, happy viewing and if I may add, mayb already said b4 but all the same…..

        hopefully yu burn the DVD R 4.7 GB disc fully, bole toh yu do not just burn this movie and rest of the space is left blank????

        One can burn as DATA MODE, and yu can burn multiple titles vcd’s, mp3 files, xvid/divx until the disc is lets say 95% ready for burning.

        It is economical and saves a lot of dallars. I use the free wonderful s/w called ImgBurn.

        Just a tip…. cheers


  2. oh I am back, was checking if I had Naag Devta from 1962, unfort not in the collection, I have seen it on the big screen in Nairobi.

    The portrait Of Shashikala looks like from the 60’s so I will bet my dallar on Naag Devta.

    I must ask her next time I see her if she can recognize the name of the movie, cheers :)


    • Yes, I thought that photo of Shashikala looked like it was from the 60’s too. I haven’t seen Naag Devta (well, not even come across it!), but will certainly look out for it now, just to satisfy my curiosity! Thank you for the tip, Ash!

      And yes, the next time you bump into her, also please ask her if she’d be willing to autograph a bunch of her old photographs and send them to an avid fan…?! ;-)


    • I happened to mention to one of the contributors of that ‘birthday money’ what I’d bought, and they looked at me as if I’d lost my mind.

      We are in a minority, Banno. But I don’t mind – the lower the demand, the better for us!


  3. It could well be Shashikala, and if its the same film (with Prem Nath and smriti Biswas) then it further supports that assumption because of her expression.
    Seems like Smriti got Prem :-D

    These are indeed great treasures.
    Thanks for sharing them with us.
    This is the most I’ll ever get to see a ‘lobby’ card (a name I didn’t even know before this).


    • You’re welcome, pacifist!

      By the way, I do know that the Shashikala still isn’t from Abe-Hayat. That’s a fantasy film set in a land that’s supposed to be somewhere in the Middle East – Arabia or something. I saw it ages ago, but do remember bits of it. And Shashikala definitely gets the Premnath character (actually, I didn’t even remember Smriti Biswas being in the film). Here is one of the best-known songs from Abe-Hayat:


    • By the way, Fred: it’s a coincidence that you should have stopped by my blog, because just the other day – when I was in a shop buying the Shashikala and Sanjeev Kumar stills – I was reminded of you. The shop sells a lot of art, including old paintings and advertisements, but the only item they had on display outside the shop to indicate what they sell, was – your dad’s poster for Mother India! :-)


  4. I can imagine the look you would get: for not spending on the a new “suit” or “handbag” or such-like stuff :)
    You got hold of some interesting stuff there…


    • Or jewellery! Some relatives of mine think the only thing worth buying with a couple of thousand rupees (or more!) is jewellery. Fortunately, I’ll be meeting my parents this weekend and showing them my purchases – and I know that they at least will be as enthusiastic about the lobby cards as I am!


      • good for parents! i had left jewellery out….by indian standards i am the poorest person around, having very little of the “real” stuff….


          • Count me in this Club DO and Bawa, I had a wedding ring only , read had, had to melt that bcos fingers start to swell if I wear it.

            My collection of movies and songs worth more than any gold or diamonds or clothes.

            The satisfaction, pleasure, thrill I get out of of this is worth a lot more than all this ‘real’ stuff.

            And the count goes up and up, my guess 1500 ?? 2000 ???? movies……

            Oh no no DO I do not wish to keep u guessing and be wicked wicked re Bus Conductor, what I intend to do soon, is rip in small equal parts and u/l via MegaManager at night.

            Like we say in our Group , ‘Sharing is Caring ‘, kyon mein koyee jhoot boleya ?

            And finally I always say ‘ mein pagal nahin hoon mera dimaag kharab hai’, famous Kishoreda saying and how true !!!



  5. Happy Birthday Madhulika!
    What French food did you have at that French restaurant? (Quelque chose de bon j’espère!!)
    That still certainly looks like Shashikala to me, the same stubborn eyes, the slightly falling corners of her mouth… was she that well endowed (further down) though? But, well lets’ see what others will say.
    What are “lobby cards”?


    • I ate a filet aux morilles, followed by a tarte aux pommes – both, as my two-year old niece says, “Ce n’est pas bon, c’est excellent!” (pardon my spelling and/or my grammar if I’ve got that wrong!)

      Yes, the eyes and the mouth are what made me think this was Shashikala… but you’re right about pointing out the rest of her – I hadn’t paid attention. Let me go off and do some research!

      Lobby cards used to be posted in the lobbies of cinema theatres back in the good old days (my husband says he remembers seeing them even in the late 70’s and 80’s). They would usually feature stills from the film, with the name of the film alongside. Similar to posters, since they were publicity material too, but (I think) always photos, and generally smaller than posters. The largest I’ve seen were about 20″ x 24″.


      • Mmm, that sounds “excellent” indeed; especially tarte aux pommes, which is a special from my own region, Normandy! Congrats on your French, I’ll give you an A.
        Also thanks for the info on lobby cards. So people collecting them nowadays would have gotten them from unscrupulous hands that would have taken them from lobby walls then, where they had been posted?


        • Ah, you’re from the land of calvados! Merci for the A; it’s undeserved, but thank you anyway! :-)

          No, these lobby cards are actually obtained in a usually above-board way. The man from whom I bought the Helen lobby card said he has links with dealers in cinema art. The dealers go around to cinema theatres that have been functioning for years – in many cases, they have storerooms in which old lobby cards, posters etc have been lying ever since the 50’s or whenever. The dealers buy the material from the theatres, and that’s how they come to the shops. It also probably accounts for why most of the material is in bad shape – dusty, moth-eaten, sometimes with pen or pencil marks.


    • Thank you, Shweta!

      When I was in school, I remember us girls once chatting about the filmstars we thought the most handsome. Nearly everybody voted for Shammi Kapoor or Dev Anand, except for one girl who said “Premnath?” There was much surprise, some horror, and an incredulous “That fatso??!!” – until Doordarshan aired Sagaai, and everybody realised that there was more (or less, whichever way you look at it) to Premnath than Johnny Mera Naam or even Teesri Manzil.


      • DO,

        yu must find your skool pal and tell her if she sees Prem in Bus Conductor, a swagger with so much confidence oozing out,. she will faint on the spot…… I am sure yer mouth is watering DO also, when will my next bud-day arrive so that I can see this phillum :):)

        Suspence Suspence lagate raho……



  6. This is wonderful selection. I wish we had been more careful with the song booklets from dad’s films. These booklets had a synopsis of the film, some stills and all the songs. After he passed away we kept the few of the booklets which were still with us as memory of the good old days.


    • The booklets sound lovely – I’ve never seen even one! Maybe the next time I go looking for lobby cards, I should also ask for song booklets. Who knows, I may find something!

      Incidentally, I did come across a beautifully composed lobby card for Anupama, with your dad and Sharmila Tagore. I thought of buying it, but it was in poor condition, and my budget had all gone in the Helen one.


  7. Ahh lovely collection here, totally loving the one of Sanjeev and Helen. Sanjeev was such a great looking man hai na? and one of the things i’ll be getting when i finally make it to India would be one of those original hand printed posters, i hope they’ll still be around


    • Yes, I’m all for Sanjeev Kumar in his early films – he’s such a hunk. :-))

      I haven’t quite figured out what the deal is with the handprinted posters. I’ve read about them, and all information seems to point to them being prohibitively expensive – up to 10,000 or whatever for one poster. But what I’ve seen in the shops where I’ve bought the lobby cards are all around 1,000-1,500. Which makes me think these may not be authentic. I wonder where one could get the genuine stuff.


  8. What a useful way to spend the birthday moolah!
    Andthanks for sharing. would never have thought that it is Shashikala, but since you mention it, she does look like her!
    I remember seeing lobby cards in the the theaters even in the 80s. BTW thanks for the word!


    • Somehow I don’t recall seeing any lobby cards even in the 80’s – but then that may be because we saw very few films in theatres back then. My father was posted in Srinagar, and terrorism had already started to take hold, so we never went out much… and by the time we came to Delhi, most of our film-watching was on TV!


  9. The first pic definitely looks like Shashikala. I can tell by the shape of her throat. If you look at her in Phool aur patthar you’ll see what i mean.

    On Sanjeev Kumar, I often wish he’d known I existed so he wouldn’t die a bachelor, pining away for Hema Malini like that (as I’ve heard he did from old timers). :-P


    • I’m very impressed, Simplegal! You are so observant – I’d never realised it, but yes, Shashikala does have a very distinctive neck. Thank you for pointing that out.

      Oh, I can easily understand why you’d have wished Sanjeev Kumar had known you’d existed. ;-) He’s so gorgeous. Have you seen Shikar? I’m a major Dharmendra fan, but I think in that film Sanjeev Kumar easily overshadows Dharmendra.


  10. And here is another one DO, I have seen a couple of Lobby Posters back in Kenya in the 60’s but was not aware of the correct name, thx for the info, very useful.

    And me too, I was also just pullin’ yr leg re suspense etc, but all the same gd news, by tmrw shud have the files ready for Bus Conductor 1959 for all the ‘phankas’ of this oldie but goldie. Split in 8 files, and being a VHSrip, it is complete movie.

    And I shud not forget to send greeting to buddy Zafar Shah, it is due to him we get to see this wonderful cinema.

    Glad yu liked Jungle Princess.



    • Ash, you are too kind! Thank you, and do please also pass on oodles of gratitude to Zafar Shah – I am looking forwardly very eagerly to watching Bus Conductor. By the way, I’ve nearly finished watching Jungle Princess. It’s much better than Baghdad ka Jaadoo, both as far as scripting is concerned, and a lot more besides – the sets etc are quite elaborate. I’d have thought that for a film that was made during the War years, budgets would have been pretty tight. But this seemed to have more money put into it than did Baghdad ka Jaadoo.

      Good to see Hari Shivdasani looking so young! I wouldn’t have recognised him if it hadn’t been for his voice. :-)


  11. Hi, which shop do you get your fascinating movie momentum from?? I used to collect in the 70’s & want to start again but am clueless as to the whereabouts of these shops! & Tanuja in a double role – that I must see!


    • I got this stuff mainly from two shops, both in Delhi:

      1. AllArts – in Hauz Khas Village, next to Naivedyam. These guys have a very large collection; the Gustakhi Maaf and Shashikala (?) stills are from there.

      2. Citrabhasa – S-403, Greater Kailash-1 ( Not so large a collection as AllArts, but personally I think they’ve got a better collection. My Helen lobby card, and the one of Fearless Nadia, are from here. They’re in the process of putting up a new website with their entire catalogue online.

      Near AllArts, there’s also a very small, poky little shop where an old gentleman sells movie memorabilia. A lot of it is in bad condition and you have to really plough through tons of dust, but I have found some gems there too.


  12. Dustedoff, belated happy birthday, and that’s certainly a good way to spend the money. For my birthday, last October, I bought – surprise! – a few vintage Bollywood DVDs. I don’t think it’s possible here in NYC to find any stills from such films, and I wasn’t familiar with the phrase “lobby cards” either.

    Anyway, those are nice pics…

    Regarding the first pic, yes, I could see that being Shashikala… BTW, if you would like a preview of Naag Devta, there are a few clips on YouTube. I watched one, but to me, the main dancer there (not identified) looks a lot like Anjali Devi… The styles look about right, though.


    • Thank you, Richard! Buying vintage Bollywood – whether it’s DVDs or publicity material – is such an enjoyable way of celebrating one’s birthday, isn’t it? I just wish Amazon had Bollywood memorabilia on sale – there’s loads of Hollywood (which I’m not so keen on when, when it comes to memorabilia), but very little Bollywood, or at least not from as far back as the 40’s or 50’s, which is what I’m interested in. I have a few hundred dollars’ worth of Amazon gift certificates ready for redemption, so I’d have loved to use them on something like these lobby cards!

      I had a look at the credits and a Mukesh-Suman Kalyanpur duet from Naag Devta. No Shashikala, but yes, the look was similar.


  13. My pleasure DO to share Bus Conductor with you and your readers here.

    Do share yr views when ever yu have seen this Goldie, as yu have noticed yu will rarely see me being critical of any Goldies ::):)

    And surely yr apprec will be sent to Zafar bro next time I see him, he has been rather quiet lately, maybe he is preparing more surprises for us :):)

    Interesting observation re Jungle Princess contra Baghdad Ka Jadoo, I am sure finance those days was a real big issue and this cud reflect on the movie making itself, unlike today !! I must refresh my memory soon by seeing back to back these movies,

    but meanwhile here is the links for Bus Conductor- 1959
    Cast – Shyama,Premnath,Amarnath,
    Music – Bipin Babul
    Producer – Ashok Bhambri
    Director- Dwarka Khosla
    Written by Maruti

    Here yu can see the SS-



    zip 2

    zip 3

    zip 4

    zip 5

    zip 6

    zip 7

    zip 8

    Total size is abt 1.2 GB.




    • Thanks ash :)
      I’ve downloaded this as well as Jungle Princess, but am waiting for someone to tell me what do I do next :-D
      I need step by step directions like Tom’s :(


      • Hei Pacifist,

        This is what I do, quite simple.

        Put the respective d/l zipped files (one movie one folder :) ) in one Folder, name it for eg Jungle Princess.

        Unzip these files, by using this wonderful little Free s/w which 7z, this is what I have used to zip the files in the first place. Just pick/highlight all files in the folder, right click, open with >7 z > extract files> .

        Yu will get a new box saying ‘extract to…….,’ usually it is the the same Drive where yu have stored the d/l files”

        Once this process of unzipping is finished yu will see a brand new FOLDER WITH the move name, just open and see all the parts there.

        I do not join any files to make it into one file, I burn the folder as it is bcos my stand alone player picks it up autom, am sure yours will do also, besides yr PC Player does the same. Yu can use my earlier reply re burn using ImgBurn.

        Better still, if yu find my adv confusing, pls go to good ol trusty YouTube, and simply type in search box ‘ how to unzip 7z files, Winrar, Winzip etc.

        Yu will see many videos on this, just run a few and see which is best for yu :)

        The mode is same and 7 Z will do the job for Jungle Princess and Bus Conductor, first is 7z and second one is RAR files.

        Gd luck, any questions pls revert.



        It is found here-


          • Welcome anytime Pacifist

            and no no, fools BUT only PHOOLS :):),
            actually we all start from zero/scratch and with experience grow, I began the same way….. as they say yu never stop learning kyoon mein koyee jhoot boleya,:), cheers


  14. So sarry DO, I wush we cud edit our replies, can we ??

    Because I shud have added in my reply, the one with SS at WP, once you come to that page, yu can double click to see the bigger image, this for info for folks who may not be aware of this mode……

    ta ta



    • Ash, you are too good! Thank you so very much. :-) I’m going to download these tomorrow, and hopefully watch it very soon – I’m looking forward to it, especially as I’ve had a look at those screen shots you uploaded too. Fabulous!


  15. Hi!! belated Happy bday to you!! You, in all probability, have no idea of who I am since I have never commented here before: My name is Neha and I love old Hindi songs, especially black and white :) My blog is based on old hindi film trivia, and I quoted ur blog in one of my posts (the latest one in fact!) Do read it if you get the time!

    and about the photos: WHERE did you get them? They are absolutely fantastic! I want to see where these shops in Delhi are!! People usually don’t find Sanjeev Kumar good looking but I do think his acting exudes so much charm, don’t you? I absolutely ADORE him!! :)


    • Thank you, Neha! And yes, I do happen to have visited your site (and have been meaning to add you to my blog roll – will do that right after I’ve completed this comment); I’d read the post you’d linked my blog in, and found it so enjoyable that I went ahead and read a few more posts!

      Check my reply to Susan’s comment, above, about where these shops are. Their stock is very fluid – they get fresh stock every couple of weeks, and the best get bought up fast, it seems, so what you’ll find is all a question of luck. Have fun!

      And yes, I think Sanjeev Kumar is an amazing actor. Superb acting, of course, but also deliciously good-looking in his early films. :-)


  16. Came back to this post to get info on where you purchased these lovely items… I’ll be in Delhi in a couple of weeks (yayy!!) and will definitely visit either All Arts or Citrabhasa. Thanks for being such a treasure trove!


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