Our study was eight feet by six feet small cubicle; it had three taakhs (windows), and glazed multi-coloured terracotta tile floor. Of the three windows, one opened towards a narrow lane that led to a maze of lanes, with every lane having a story to tell about the resistance movement. During hot summers squatting and studying on the bare terracotta tile floor of the room gave us an air-condition feel, and during winters covered with woollen rugs, it used to be the cosiest place in our home. Those days, we were almost self-sufficient and rarely depended on imports, there were tens of terracotta tile kilns in few Mohallas in our neighbourhood- spread over from Khanayar to Kralayar. Thousands of artisan were engaged in producing quality woollen rugs in many Mohallas on the foothills of Kohi-i-Maran.
In more than one way, our study was our small world, where we spent most of the time. My elder sibling was a sort of film buff, and almost every month he purchased a couple of film magazines- the Picture Post, the Filmfare and the Screen are some of the names that I still remember. Clipping out pictures and blow ups of his favourite actors from these magazines and pasting them on the inside of the door of our reading room was one of his best pastimes. To the annoyance of elders at home, he even got some pictures of actors framed from Kashmiri Pandit frame maker near Basant Bagh.
Those days, it was the trinity of Dilip Kumar, Raj Kapoor and Dev Anand that reigned supreme in the film industry and were known as the Moghuls of Indian Cinema. Of the three my brother was the greatest fan of Dev Anand. He endeavored hard to do his hairstyle Dev Anand way and carefully puffed it up, with the curl in the middle, moreover flaunting charm in his style by keeping up the collar of his shirt. Sometimes, I tried to imitate my brother’s hair style by applying Brylcream to my spiky hair and upped collar of my shirt and started believing that I too looked like Dev Anand- the Gregory Peck of Indian cinema. Perhaps, it was in class nine, when my friend and I saw his first film in the third class of the old Regal or Amrish cinema, the ticket for the third class cost sixty five paise. The title of the film was “Asli-Naqli” it had Dev Anand and Sadhana in lead role- the hangover continued for about a weak. Then, in the wildest of my dreams, I had never thought that I would one day see the great matinee idol in flesh and blood. Thanks, to my posting in Bombay, in the early eighties, when I came to know not only giants of literature, doyens of India cinema but also had an opportunity to meet and talk to matinee idols that I admired most. It was March 1984, the chief executive of our state was once again in the metropolitan and the Anand brothers- Cheetan Anand, Dev Anand, and Vijay Anand hosted an evening for him at Vijay Anand’s Bandra Villa. On his earlier visits, his hosts were Ramanand Sagar, Chopra Brothers, Sunil Dutt and Shatrughan Sinha. For their contribution to Indian cinema, every one of the three Anand brothers has been a big name in the Indian cinema. On the way to Goldie’s house, as Vijay Anand was known to the film crowd of the metropolitan, the chief executive with a child ’s smile on his face asked me ‘if all the three brothers will be waiting for us. And told me, ‘there were times when while standing in front of the Palladium Cinema and looking at the hoardings I dreamt of shaking hands with these big stars.’
The house had been illuminated. The three brothers were waiting on the gate to greet the guest from Kashmir. Intesterstingly, women of the family had drapped golden thread embrodired pherans. All the bigwigs of the film industry in Bombay had been invited to the big bash; these included top film herions, Priya of Haqeeqat and Heer Raanjha fame, Moushumi Chatterjee of film ‘Anuraag” popularity and Poonam Dhillon who had endeared herself to Kashmiris for her role in the film ‘Noorie.’ The colourful evening was enriched by ghazals from Tabasum Aligarhi- perhaps a new singer, that Anands wanted to introduce to the industry. The memoriable party ended late in the night at a delecious vegeteran dinner.
Z.G. Muhammad is a noted writer and columnist