My Family and Other Film Fanatics

…with due apologies to Gerald Durrell.

Since my review of Aan consisted to a large extent of my family’s almost constant commentary on the film, I figured it was time to introduce you to them – and show you what we’re all about, especially when it comes to watching, appreciating, and mangling cinema.

This is an early shot of the Liddles:

On the left, my father, Andrew Verity Liddle. On the right, my mother, Muriel (née Banerji). In the middle, looking terrified, my then 2 ½ year old sister, Swapna (this photo is from 1970). I was yet to appear on the scene.

Swapna was introduced, as I was, to Hindi films and Hindi film music at a young age. (Our parents, fortunately – unlike some of our ancestors – were liberal-minded enough to think of cinema as harmless entertainment, not the devil’s own creation). For Swapna, at least, Hindi film music seems to have been more of a draw than the films themselves. One of her earliest favourites was Bijli hoon main toh bijli, from Chanda aur Bijli (1969). These are the words of the chorus:

“Bijli hoon main toh bijli
Bal khaake jab bhi nikli, logon ke dil mein machli”

– which translates (roughly) as:

“I am lightning! Each time I go out,
Swaying my way around town,
I crackle my way through people’s hearts.”

This was Swapna’s version:

“Bijli hoon main toh bijli
Bun khaake jab bhi nikli, logon ke dil mein machhli

wohi machhli jo Baby ne khaayi thhi!” (this last line, lyrics courtesy Swapna, was delivered in a triumphant squeal)

–  which translates as:

“I am lightning! Each time I go out after eating a bun,
There’s a fish in people’s hearts
– the same fish that Baby (i.e, Swapna) ate!”

Hmm. One can see that food played an important part in this kid’s life.

Swapna wasn’t quite so food-obsessed by the time she grew fond of the songs of Aan Milo Sajna (1970). But she still got things a bit muddled: the line “Phir kab miloge?” (“When will I meet you next?”) from Achha toh hum chalte hain became “Phir kab hilogi?” (“When are you going to move off?”). In the same song, Swapna now admits that she did wonder why the two lovers wanted to climb up the curtains: “Aao paas baithein pardon par” (“Come, let’s sit together on the curtains”) was what she thought they sang. The actual lyrics are “Aao paas baithein pal do pal” (“Come, let’s sit together for a moment or two”).

On a similar note of popular film songs mangled beyond belief: there’s a cousin of mine, my Vijai bhaiya, who used to love Nana karte pyaar tumhi se kar baithe, from Jab Jab Phool Khile (1965). The original lyrics are meant to be “Na-na karte pyaar…” (“…despite having said no, and no again…”). Vijai bhaiya honestly thought the lyrics were “Nana karte pyaar” (“Granddad loves me…”), and used to sing it while snuggling up affectionately to his maternal grandfather, his nana.

While on the topic of Vijai bhaiya (and this is where I make my entrance): he was the one who first told me what The Sound of Music was all about. Vijai bhaiya is 11 years older than me, and my earliest memories of visiting him are from when he was in high school. My aunt, and my uncle – who was a Colonel – would be chatting with my parents, and my sister and I would be entertained by Vijai bhaiya. Invariably, his school notebooks used to be lying around, and drawn carefully in the margins would be dozens of detailed pictures – always of military tanks and guns. I guess it was not much of a surprise that Vijai bhaiya ended up in the army.

But: The Sound of Music. When I was about 13, and had still not seen The Sound of Music, Vijai bhaiya took it upon himself to tell me what it was all about. At the end of the narrative, I asked, “Oh, so it’s a war movie, is it?” After all, Vijai bhaiya’s story-telling had dwelt on the fact that WWII was the backdrop for the film, and that the Nazis’ pursuit of the Von Trapp family – and how they’re hoodwinked, with the help of the nuns – seemed to constitute the bulk of the film.

Vijai bhaiya conceded that it wasn’t strictly a war film, but it wasn’t until I’d actually seen The Sound of Music for myself that I realised how utterly varying individual perceptions of cinema can be.

Okay, so now that I’ve managed to wriggle myself into the storyline, perhaps it’s time to take over the story for a while.

(That, by the way, is me, at age 6).

The first film I saw was Bobby – my parents watched it in a cinema hall when I was about 1 ½ years old, and Mama took me along too, thinking I’d sleep through the film. I didn’t – I sat up and watched, not understanding a word, but loving it all. Later that year, Majboor was released – and though I didn’t watch it, one of my earliest favourites was a Majboor song I used to gleefully (and in complete innocence) render as “Michael Dadu peekar ganda karta hai” (“Granddad Michael makes a mess after drinking” – not, as Anand Bakshi meant, “…Michael creates a ruckus after drinking”). My vocabulary, unfortunately, hadn’t evolved to the stage of including words like daaru and danga.

…which, now that I think back on it, was probably just as well. A little mite like me shouldn’t have known words like that, my paternal grandma would’ve said in her stern voice. She was a fervently orthodox Pentecostal, and on one of her visits, was entertaining me by singing hymns. I bore it for a while, then piped up, “Dadi, aapko Julie picture ke gaane nahin aate hain?” (“Granny, don’t you know any songs from Julie?”)

Oops.

My (and my sister’s) love for Hindi film music probably has something to do with the fact that my mum used to sing film songs to us as lullabies. She’s got a gorgeous voice – she used to sing in the church choir – and even today, despite touching 70, she’s got a voice that’s more controlled, beautiful and in tune than just about anybody else I know.

Anyway, Mama would pick up whichever baby daughter needed to be lulled to sleep, and she’d stroll about and sing. To my sister, she invariably sang O mere pyaar aaja (Bhoot Bungla, 1965). To me, she sang Yehi woh jagah hai (Yeh Raat Phir Na Aayegi, 1966). No wonder it’s still one of my favourite songs, ever.

Mama, before she got married, didn’t get much chance to watch films. Her grandfather was a patriarch who believed in ruling his house with an iron hand, and cinema, in his opinion, was evil. Until he died in the late 1950s, he let his children and grandchildren watch only two films: The Ten Commandments (1956) and Quo Vadis (1951), both of which he deemed unlikely to be corrupting influences. Mama’s parents – and her uncle and aunt – were also allowed to see Kismet (1943), though since Mama was then only a year old, for her, it was as good as not watching it.

Ironic, then, that Mama should grow up to resemble a film star: Sadhana. Sometime in the early 60s, after they’d gotten engaged, Papa took this photograph of Mama’s:

One print of the photo Papa hung in his room, back home in Saharanpur. A visiting cousin, who’d never seen Mama, was taken aback. “I didn’t know you were such a fan of Sadhana’s,” he said to Papa. “I’m not,” Papa replied. “That’s my fiancée, not Sadhana.”

It wouldn’t have mattered, Mama says, if it hadn’t been for the neighbourhood boys. When Mama would walk down the street to go to college, they’d all hang about and yell after her: “Sadhana! Sadhana!” Thoroughly irritating, says Mama. (Sadhana’s photo on the left in this screen shot from Mera Saaya always makes me want to yell out: “Maaamaa!!”)

Then, in 1965, Aarzoo was released. My maternal grandmother decided, in a fit of magnanimity, to give two of her servants, the brothers Kaathik and Bahadur, a treat. (Bahadur, for those of you who read my post on Love in Tokyo, was the one who used to sing “Le gayi dil budhiya Japan ki” – “an old crone from Japan took my heart away” – instead of “Le gayi dil gudiya Japan ki” – “a Japanese doll took my heart away”).

Kaathik and his wife, along with the then-14 year old Bahadur, went off to watch Aarzoo. It was the first time they’d been inside a cinema hall. Everything was awesome, new, wonderfully strange. And then, when Sadhana came onscreen, Bahadur couldn’t believe his eyes.

“This country bumpkin!” Kaathik said scornfully when the trio got home later that evening. “He leapt up right there and began yelling, ‘Mirial Baba! Mirial Baba!‘ Everyone was looking at us and laughing! So embarrassing!

Two more tiny film connections (and one biggie!), and this already over-long post will end. I promise.

One: my mother’s father, my nana, used to be a sound recordist with HMV in Lahore before the Partition. At the studios, he’d often see a struggling young singer who was trying to get a break.

The man’s name? Mohammad Rafi.

The second story, not quite so brief. In the mid-1970s, Papa was posted in Rewa, Madhya Pradesh. My father was the Superintendent of Police (the SP) of Rewa, and the bungalow we lived in was an imposing one – it used to be once the house allotted to the Inspector General (IG) of Police. It had a long driveway, and one day Mama noticed a large car coming up the driveway. “I was puzzled,” she says. Not without reason; Rewa was (and still is) a small town, pretty much a lazy backwater. Big cars were unknown.

The car drew up at the front door, and from amongst the people seated, one man got out.

“It was Premnath,” Mama says. “He was wearing a gaudy multi-coloured bush-shirt. A multitude of chains and rudraksh malas dangled around his neck.” He smiled and told her that he’d stayed in this house, because his father used to be the IG at Rewa. “I just wanted to see the house once, for old times’ sake,” he told Mama. She invited him in to have a cup of tea, but he declined – he was off to the Kumbh Mela with some friends. “I wanted one glimpse of the house, that was all,” he said.

Ooh. Yes, I know he must have looked something like this by then:

Rather than this:

But still. My mum, being the dignified lady that she is, didn’t fall on him and beg for an autograph. I’m not sure if I would have acted with such restraint.

(My father says that Premnath’s father’s name was probably Diwan Mahendernath – Papa wasn’t sure. The house in Rewa, incidentally, was also the one in which Raj Kapoor got married).

And now for my BIG bit of news. I actually discovered this only less than a year ago. Not only have we lived in the house where Raj Kapoor got married, we’re actually connected – a long and very tenuous connection, but still – through marriage to Raj Kapoor. My paternal grandmother, my dadi, had a brother, who had two daughters. One of them, named Ivy, was married to Raj Kapoor’s (and most importantly for me, Shammi Kapoor’s!) cousin. Yahoo!

For now, that’s it. There are other stories, but they’re for later.

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102 thoughts on “My Family and Other Film Fanatics

  1. WOW!! What a wonderful post with so much to tell us in such an entertaining way!!!
    Thoroughly enjoyed it. Your mother does look like Sadhana, but I was taken up with your father in uniform. So handsome. :)
    And the Shammi connection!!!!!
    Of course Raj Kapoor married Premnath’s sister, so one sees the connection to the house.

    Thank you DO for sharing those lovely pictures and memories.

    • Thank you, pacifist – I’m so glad you enjoyed the post! And yes, I do tend to think Papa looks very handsome in uniform. ;-)

      I believe – I’m not sure about this, but maybe someone else (memsaab?) might know – that Shammi Kapoor spent some of his growing-up years in Rewa too. I seem to recall him saying in an interview that he was faffing about in Rewa before he came to Bombay and had to start work. And if he lived in Rewa, I’d bet he stayed in that house too – after all, it was his bhabhi’s maika, and (I still remember this) it was a huge, rambling house with lots of room for a really large family.

    • Thank you, Sharmi!

      Oh, and by the way – I’d been meaning to thank you, anyway, for recommending two good films I watched recently. Aandhi, of course, had been recommended to me by others too, but I finally got around to watching it after reading your review. Unfortunately the print was a bad one – it kept skipping – but I loved the film. It was so poignant and real.

      I also watched – I finished yesterday – Do Behnen. Shyama was so wonderful in it! Unlike Sharmilee (which it reminded me of, somewhat) this one showed the ‘bad sister’ in a less negative light, with more shades of grey. More misguided than evil, actually. Oh, and the music was wonderful – and I’m glad Rajendra Kumar’s role was pretty restricted! ;-)

  2. That was a quickly written reaction. Here’s some more.

    Loved reading your Vijay bhaiyya’s rendering of the story of Sound of Music. Hahahaha!

    The words in songs when misheard do make for funny jokes. I remember the one about ‘na jaane tum kabougi’ :-D

    LOL at Premnath looking like the first picture and not the second.
    Would love to hear your other stories as well.

    • Even my husband was very amused when I told him about how, thanks to Vijai bhaiya, I went through a good bit of my life thinking The Sound of Music was a war film. :-D

      Incidentally, Vijai bhaiya looks a carbon copy of my father. When my father was younger, they looked so similar that Vijay bhaiya’s nephew and niece (his sister’s little children) met Papa for the first time, and were happily calling him “Mamu”, despite being told he was actually a nana – they couldn’t believe he wasn’t Vijai bhaiya. Poor little things, they got thoroughly confused when Vijai bhaiya appeared on the scene and there were suddenly two mamus!

      LOL about Na jaane tum kabougi. Harvey also had this delightful tale about Chaman ke phool bhi tujhko julaab kehte hain.

      More stories? Ah. ;-)

    • Also, the use of the word ‘picture’ for films has made me very nostalgic.
      I remember the days using it when asking for permission to see a film with friends, ‘hum picture dekhne jaayen?’
      Or boastfully informing friends, ‘maine kal …… picture dekhi’.

  3. Really enjoyed this post, and the pictures. What fascinating tales! I loved the story of the Bahadur shouting ‘Mirial-baba’ in the theatre. And of course, Premnath dropping in to take a look at the house.

  4. Madhu, wonderful, wonderful post! I smiled through the first bit and then got hooked on to the rest of the post. And your mother is pretty but, okay, I think I seriously have a crush on your dad! Uff! Your childhood picture? You look almost exactly like your mom. Thanks for introducing me to your family and entertaining me in the morning. And your Vijai Bhaiyya sounds like fun :))

    • Anu, I sent Papa a link to this post – he doesn’t really surf the net, not like I do. Knowing him, I think he’s going to be amused (and perhaps a little embarrassed too!) by that comment of yours. Mama will probably laugh her head off when she reads it! :-)

      And thank you for telling me I look almost exactly like my mom – I always feel very happy when people say that.

  5. As days go by and mum’s loss sinks in, my health is taking a beating and am unable to visit blogs or even update my own blog, to day I have managed sit down for a few moments, love the photos, would love to write a longer comment but I just finished posting a rather long comment on Greta’s Jaal post and so am unable to sit in front of the computer any longer, hope I recover soon and get back into the cyber world.

    • Shilpi, my condolences. I can only imagine the depth of your loss, but take care, and yes, cliche as it is, time *will* heal, and then those memories will be comforting rather than saddening. I can only wish you strength from afar.

    • Oh, Shilpi… I was missing my parents terribly yesterday, because yesterday was Papa’s birthday, and despite having planned to meet them (it was supposed to be a surprise for Papa, though Mama was in on it) – a series of mishaps and unforeseen circumstances ended up in me having to call off the trip. Very disappointing. But it made me think about how much I love both my parents, and that inevitably led me to think of you, and of how difficult it must be to cope with the recent loss of a parent. Stay strong, and you know that your mother’s love will always surround you – even if she’s not there in body.

      Take care, look after yourself. And get well soon.

    • Dear Shilpi, I am sorry about that. Loss of a beloved one is always painful! It leaves behind a big empty space. Respect this space and grace will flow through it. you are not alone. We are with you through the blogosphere! Sending you good energy vibes!

  6. What a wonderful post this is, Madhu! You seem to have so many interesting anecdotes to narrate – am sure this is only the tip of the iceberg. Loved all the stories – and the twists to the songs. Some of your sister’s versions actually make pretty good lyrics. ;)

    I agree with Anu – you do look very much like your mom (who indeed looks very much like Sadhana in some of the pics).

    Love the first pic here – your dad, mom and your sister. What a cute pic! And the one with you – at 6, with a smile on your face, clearly posing for the camera, is also oh-so-sweet! :-)

    Your connection with the Kapoor family does not look all that long or tenuous to me. Your dad’s cousin married Shammi Kapoor’s cousin,, right? That’s a fairly close connection, in my books!

    Just loved this post. Many thanks for sharing with all of us!

    • Thank you, raja! No, this wasn’t quite the tip of the iceberg – in fact, well into the iceberg. But yes, there are some more stories, which I’ll write down soon.

      Thank you, thank you, re: me looking like my mum. Ever since I was a kid, I was given the notion (by an elderly relative of ours) that while my sister was “oh so pretty” I was a little scarecrow – a fat scarecrow, but still an ugly one. So being told I look like Mama is heaven!

      P.S. I adore that first photo too! Mama says the fright on Swapna’s face is a result of the camera flash going off. This was a studio photo, you see, and I don’t think Swapna – even though Papa photographed her a lot when she was a baby – had ever encountered a flash before!

  7. Hmmmmm! *sigh*
    such a lovely post!
    You look so much like your mother!
    You have her smile and some more!

    Oh, is it ‘Michael daaru pike danga karta hai’, I though it was Michael daaru pike dhandha karta hai’, Michael does business after drinking!
    Thanks for that!
    This song was so famous in my childhood. All of us siblings used ot sing it this way on top of our voices! O God, I have to spread this enlightenment!

    Your father looks damn handsome in his uniform!
    And your mom is just awesome! Love her in the first pic!
    And your sis Swapna looks so cute! One just wants to pick he rup and cuddle!

    I think I’ll be reading this post quite often!

    • That’s my sister. :-) I love that photo too – there are loads of lovely photos of Mama with baby Swapna, but this one’s one of my favourites. I love that slightly floppy sleepiness of Swapna, combined with Mama’s big smile!

  8. Wonderful post about your family! Your dad is really handsome, and your mother does resemble Sadhana, so I can see why the visiting cousin thought your dad was a great fan of Sadhana’s! And I am so jealous to see that you are a cousin, albeit distant, of Shammi’s! Thanks for telling us all about it.

    • Thank you, Lalitha! Yes, there are definitely some angles from which Mama looks a lot like Sadhana – especially that one where she’s sitting near the window. Our family still laughs over my uncle having thought she was Sadhana! :-)

      • Have just finished reading this post. It’s very, very interesting indeed. Yours is certainly a very good-looking family ! Your father’s extremely handsome & your mother certainly does resemble Sadhana, especially in the check sari. She even had a “Sadhana Cut !” Your childhood photo is very good indeed. So your mother was Miss Muriel Banerji. Was she from Bengal ? Loved how your sister changed the lyrics of some songs, “Aao paas baithe pardon par” is hilarious & imaginative. I, myself, used to sing this song in English …”OK, so I will go now. When will you meet me ? Whenever you’ll tweet me..” & so on. Thanks for this post.

    • Thank you, raja! I’ve just finished watching it, and loved every moment of it. :-) Shammi Kapoor’s recollection of that remarkable ride on the horse, and those swims in the river, are delightful.

      His equation with Rajendranath shines through so wonderfully in the films they did together – Rajkumar is one of my favourites in that respect. They’re great in that!

    • Delightful video of dear Shammi!!
      Loved his description of the days at Rewa.
      I’m really looking forward to more anecdotes DO.

      Forgot to mention earlier that I would never have guessed this ‘link’ to the last post :)

      • Oh, and one more little anecdote. I phoned my parents a couple of hours back, and my father recounted another instance of Swapna’s ‘food-obsessed’ love for Hindi film songs. In the 1974 film Dost, there’s a song (one I don’t like at all – too shrill):

        One of the lines repeated in that is “Raqs kiya jaata hai” (“a dance is performed”). Swapna used to sing “Ras piya haata hai” (“Juice is drunk”). Yes, well…

        • As a child I used to think that ‘aa bata de’ is one word ‘abatade’. I must have been already 13 or 14 till I understood the correct lyrics! And no, I didn’t give it much thought, what it could mean or anything!

          Thanks for the meaning of ‘Raqs kiya jata hai’. I didn’t know that.

          • Shame on those lyricists for using all these high-falutin’ words! :-( I didn’t know what raqs meant either, until Papa told me yesterday.

            I like that anecdote about aa bata de. I’m sure, if I begin to think about it, I’ll come up with a lot of other songs about whose lyrics I had very wonky ideas…

            • I thought that was a common enough word in older films.
              The dancer was a ‘raqasa’.
              In fact I *think* Akbar in Mughal-e-azam says something like ‘tum ek raqasa ko Hindustan ke takht par nachvaana chahte ho’?

              • pacifist, this is creepy! Check out my latest and you will see what I mean. :)

                Madhu, I think I am going to record all these ‘coinkadinks’ as my son used to say. We could make our suspense thrillers.

              • Yes, pacifist – I was also immediately reminded of raqqasa when my father told me what raqs meant. Actually, I must admit that in old films, I always thought a raqqasa meant something more than being a dancer… probably something like a tawaif. I stand corrected! Better late than never, I guess.

                Mughal-e-Azam had such fabulous dialogues, didn’t it?

  9. Lovely and heartwarming post!! I love all the stories and pictures, and it sounds like you had a wonderful childhood and definitely have a wonderful (and good-looking!) family. I’m glad I read this today, as my mind is very much on family… it’s a bittersweet day, my sister’s birthday as well as my father’s, so my siblings and I are happy and yet missing ‘Dadda’ dreadfully, as always, and wishing he and our Mum were still here with us. Thank goodness for great memories.

    • DG, my heart goes out to you and siblings. I can imagine how much a special day like this, with two birthdays in the family, would affect all of you when your Dadda isn’t there to celebrate… Great memories should be cherished always, I think – not just because it’s fun to remember the past, but because those memories also buoy us up when we’re missing the people we loved and shared those days with. It’s a comfort.

      *hugs*.

  10. Aha! No wonder you have the filmi khoon running in your veins and your blog is so wonderful! :D

    Loved your post Madhu, something more personal always makes it special :)

      • Yes I did, and yes, you did! :)
        Hey by the way, there’s this book called “The Greatest Show On Earth” by Jerry Pinto, have you read it yet? I just bought me a copy and it’s very interesting :)

        • No, I’ve heard about it, but haven’t read it yet? It’s only about Bollywood, right? How much is it about old films, how much new? If there’s plenty of stuff about old cinema, then I’d like to get my hands on it!

    • I’ve seen The Great Gambler, but somehow the one song that I always remember from it is Do lafzon ki hai dil ki kahaani – I’d completely forgotten about this one!

      Okay, I have one more anecdote to share. Not much to do with my family (and only very distantly with films!) but the whole ‘raqs‘ thing reminded me. When we lived in Srinagar years ago (I was about 10 or 11 then), we used to attend a church that held bilingual services – the sermon was usually in English, but some of the lessons were read in Urdu and some in English, and so on. All the lessons were read by members of the congregation who’d go to the lectern and read.

      Once, one gentleman had been asked to read from The Acts of the Apostles. All requests used to be made a couple of days in advance – often the previous Sunday – so if you felt nervous or wanted to practice reading, you had plenty of time to do that! ;-)

      This gentleman obviously was confident of his reading abilities. And so he came forward unprepared and read out about how the apostles (or whatever they’re called in Urdu)… “ne mujre kiye”!! Some of the congregation had fallen asleep by that point; others were not listening; and of course some didn’t understand much Urdu. But Papa nearly burst out laughing.

      He explained to us later: in the Urdu alphabet, the r (re) and the d (daal) look similar, as do the vowel signs for u and o. What the Bible actually said was that the ‘apostles performed miracles’, not that the ‘apostles performed mujras’. :-D

      Incidentally, the gentleman in question was Sonia Sahni’s brother. ;-)

      • LOL that is funny.

        I was so enamoured with urdu (still am) that I asked my mother to teach it to me. I became quite good at it, and read Munshi Premchand’s ‘Gaban’ in urdu. At present I’m badly out of practice.
        The ‘mujre’ may have been the word ‘sajde'(obeisance).

        Interesting about Sonia Sahni’s brother.

        • No, it wasn’t sajde. Papa had told me back then that the word should have been read as maujde (miracles) rather than mujre. :-) Since you know Urdu, you’d guess that the words would actually look very similar. Papa taught my sister and I to read Urdu too, when we lived in Srinagar – I have almost completely forgotten whatever I’d learnt, though my sister is now quite fluent, mainly because she needs to know Urdu to do a lot of her research.

            • Thank you! Yes, they do look similar, no? Incidentally, while most newspapers and other popular – read ‘mass market’ Urdu print often does not have all the vowel signs in place, the Urdu Bible does – so Ms Sahni’s brother wouldn’t even have had that as an excuse to fall back on, had anyone asked him!

  11. “The apostles performed mujras” – – maybe involving your didi’s machhli? :)

    Thank you so much for a wonderfully warm and personal post. It was a real privilege to learn more about your family and your history with, and connection to, so many people and places filmi!

  12. Such lovely photos and what a delightful post, i’ve read the previous one too i guess your passion for films is justifiable seeing you have filmi khoon and rishtey :). And yes your mum does have a resemblace to Sadhana in those pics, I do not blame Bahadur at all lol what does Miral Baba mean

    • Thank you, bollywooddeewana! I’m glad you enjoyed the post. :-)
      (P.S. Your Hindi’s getting pretty good – that absolutely correct use of khoon and rishtey seems to indicate you won’t be needing subtitles soon!)

      ‘Baba’ was a term (still is, in some parts of the country, especially small towns and villages) which referred to a child – a toddler’s playsuit, for instance, would be referred to as a ‘baba suit‘. Mama told me that, just as the servants of the house would refer to their master as sahib and the mistress as memsahib, the children would be called baba – irrespective of how old the children were. So, even though Mama was in her early twenties, the servants would call her ‘baba’. The ‘Mirial’ was simply Bahadur’s way of pronouncing ‘Muriel’ (my mum’s name). ;-)

  13. Lol Dusted off thank you for the translation, my hindi is getting quite good but definitely no where near giving up the subs just yet, in fact the subtitles play a big part in learning, as i usually recite the words in hindi first into a voice recorder on my phone followed by how the subtitle translates for playback later and it works, I’ve learnt so much this way.

    P.s Thanks for your kind comments on bollywood movie fashion, I thought blogger might track me down (lol) for running two different blogs under different accounts, hence why i kept them aside for a while but then i realised one is allowed to have as many blogs as one chooses

    • I am very impressed by how you’ve learnt that much Hindi – I know of people who, despite having taken lessons in Hindi, can’t really manage too much. Well done! :-)

      I love your Bollywood fashion blog, by the way. I know I’ve left only one comment so far, but I did scroll down your Ajnabee posts, just to have a look at all those costumes. I must admit I’m not much of a fan of 70s fashion in Bollywoood, but some of these were quite eye-catching, even to me!

  14. As regards the Urdu script an interesting couplet comes to mind:-
    Ek nukte ne Khuda se juda kar diya
    Hum dua karte rahe woh Dagha samajhte rahe
    ek nukte ne hamen Mahram se Mujrim bana diya !!

  15. Thanks for sending me the link. I absolutely got engrossed in reading and when it ended, what no more ? I mistook your sister for yourself when I saw the first picture. There is definitely a strong resemblance. What a handsome family ! You have such an infectious smile in your present pictures, has been there since you were 6. You know, I see a resemblance between yourself and the title picture you posted in your Hua Mun-LAN post. You are very pretty, I don’t know why our elders never used any tact when dealing with kids. The couplet your father mentioned above, I have heard it from mine. I attempted to learn Urdu from him and Bangla from my mom, failed miserably on both accounts. We used to visit for such a short time with my parents once I came to US that I never gave enough time to my learning. I absolutely loved the song lyrics your sister came up with. I think I mentioned my take on tum sa nahiin dekha in a comment in another post, I thought Tumsa was a town and haseen was another word for towns ! One of the readers in cyberspace used to wonder about aaj ki raat mere dil ki salaami le ja… Thinking of salami as in food. RajenderNath visiting your home – what a nice surprise.

    • Thank you so much, Neeru! I’m glad you enjoyed this. And thank you for the compliments. :-)

      By the way, the salami interpretation isn’t unique to that person you mentioned – I wondered about that too as a kid!

  16. One thing that stands out from this post, for me is how “free-spirited” your family is! It appears to have the genuine cheeriness all around your family and that can come only when the adults in the family encourage the positivity all around. To me, that’s the beauty of your family and the pictures attest to that fact. So, kudos to your parents for providing that excellent atmosphere at home. Having grown in a similar happy environment I know we take it for granted but it is actually not that easy unless you have you two completely understanding partners.

    Playing with lyrics seems to be a common theme in your household. We did similar things growing. Numerous parodies, entire song singing in reverse alphabets, swapping lyrics and tunes from one song to another was the norm in our world. So, I enjoyed all the funny lyric replacements you guys did. Looks like your dad was toally on it. :) How sweet! Yes, your mother’s resemblence to Sadhna is unmistakable. I also see a bit of glimpse of Rani Mukharjee in her, especially in the picture where she is with your dad in uniform (and even in the first picture). You and swapna seem to resemble your mom, quite a bit actually.

    Rafi anecdote was very interesting. I have heard of how people who have seen him talk would not believe this guy can sing, for he had such a low, soft speaking voice… Once he starts singing, it was another story..

    Thanks for for introducing your family and sharing memories. Great post all the way!

    • Thank you, Ashish! I’m glad you enjoyed the post. :-)

      Yes, you have a point there about not appreciating how important it is for parents to give their children a happy, fun home to grow up in. When I look at some other people – not all, but several I’ve known – I feel very grateful for the environment my parents gave my sister and I when we were growing up.

      I must tell my mum about your saying she also resembles Rani Mukherjee. I think she’ll be surprised. By the way, it’s odd that you (and several others who’ve commented here) should say that my sister and I resemble our mother, because just about everybody in our family (and I mean the extended family – uncles, aunts, etc) says we look like our father’s side of the family. Perhaps there’s a resemblance between the two sides of the family that even we haven’t noticed….

  17. Krishna was Premnath’s sister,(who married Raj Kapoor- and thus became Krishna Kapoor).I do not know if Premnath’s mother was the third wife of his father

  18. When you are big time there is no cheeriness for long.Devanand and Shammi kapoor are the 2 biggest glamour stars of bollywood,whatever bbc polls say.Devanand’s family life was namesake and Shammi kapoor had bliss for only maybe 10 years,Aditya kapoor became grouchy and was a pain for philandering Shammi.Suraiya never married and neither did Sunil anand.Brief is the way for brightest stars,the mediocre shall survive the onslaughter of time.

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