Shiraz (1929)

Like the other two of this silent-era triad which I’ve written about here, this Indian-German collaboration produced by Himansu Rai and directed by Franz Osten is a visual feast. Filmed outdoors on location and beautifully photographed, it’s the story of Empress Mumtaz and the Taj Mahal (based on a play by Niranjan Pal) with some creative twists and turns. As with A Throw Of Dice, Himansu Rai loses the girl to Charu Roy; but sweet-faced Seeta Devi plays villainess here instead of heroine with a relish that steals the show.

A camel caravan laden with riches and conveying a royal princess and her small daughter wends its way across the desert and comes under attack by an army of bandits.

Two members of the royal escort attempt to lead the princess and her daughter to safety, but are killed while the howdah (is it a howdah if it’s on a camel?) containing the princess is crushed by boulder-shoving dacoits. The little girl emerges from the wreckage but she and the camel are the only survivors. A traveling potter named Hasan arrives in time to see a cobra rise up next to her, and then slither away leaving her unscathed.

He picks her up and takes her home with him, where a fortune teller is busy predicting the future of his son Shiraz. Hasan asks the fortune teller to look at the little girl as well; he tells the sage about the cobra and shows him a gold amulet the girl is wearing around her neck.

Hasan names her Selima, and she grows up with Shiraz. As they reach adulthood, his affection for her turns to love. He is now working with his father as a potter, and makes beautiful birds and figurines for her as well. But alas! Selima (Enakshi Rama Rau) is seen one day by some slave-raiders, who knock Shiraz (Himansu Rai) unconscious as he tries to fight them off, and kidnap her. He awakens and realizes that in the melee her “protective” gold amulet has ended up in his hand instead.

He sets off alone across the desert after her. Selima has been taken to the marketplace in Al Kalab, where she is dressed up in fine clothes and put up for sale. The market scenes are lots of fun: dancing girls, a whirling dervish and a performing monkey, in addition to the slave auction. Shiraz arrives just as the auction is beginning and tries desperately to convince the crowd that Selima is not a slave, but he fails miserably and she is sold to the representatives of Prince Khurram (Charu Roy), heir to the throne of India.

When the new slave girls are brought before Prince Khurram, Selima refuses to prostrate herself in front of him like the others. Angry at first, the Prince is soon intrigued by her beauty and defiance. She tells him that she is free-born, and he instructs a servant to make sure that she lacks no comforts.

I am enchanted by the beautiful palace setting. Parts of it look like the Red Fort in Agra and some the Red Fort in Delhi, and it’s all very grand.

In any case, Shiraz tries to gain entrance to the palace, but is turned away by a guard. He finds a local potter and asks for a job; this exchange between the potter and his toothless wife—who disapproves of the frivolous items that Shiraz fashions out of the clay, including what looks very like a prototype of the Taj—makes me laugh and laugh.

“Light of Mine Eyes” indeed!

Back at the palace, Prince Khurram chastises a trusted courtier whose daughter Dalia is spreading rumors about her impending marriage with the Prince. The courtier in turn scolds Dalia (Seeta Devi)—but to no avail.

To her dismay, Dalia’s maidservant brings her news of Prince Khurram’s intense interest in the slave girl Selima. Shiraz manages to slip a note he has written for Selima to this same maidservant as she passes by a window in the fort walls. Prince Khurram is now romancing Selima in a garden and it’s clear that love has blossomed, although she refuses his more pressing advances gently. He informs her regretfully that he cannot marry her because the law forbids him to marry anyone not of noble birth.

Dalia reads Shiraz’s note to Selima, and fakes a pass admitting him into the palace in the hopes that he will take Selima away while the Prince is off on a scheduled trip to Delhi.

Prince Khurram bids a fond farewell to Selima, kissing her goodbye (oh! those carefree days of yore, when a kiss was just a kiss instead of the road to hell!) and we are treated to one of those grand camel-elephant-horse processions that are a hallmark of these gorgeous movies.

As Shiraz enters the palace using his pass, Dalia sends a messenger with a letter to Prince Khurram urging him to return and see what Selima is up to behind his back. Dalia’s servant lets Shiraz into the harem and shows him to Selima’s rooms. Shiraz, who has been told that Selima was in danger, is surprised (and not a little dismayed) to see her glowing and happy. Her glow fades rapidly when the Prince arrives and has her arrested.

He assembles the palace slave girls and orders Shiraz to identify the one who has helped him enter the women’s quarters or die; Shiraz refuses, although he recognizes Dalia’s servant.

YIKES! (I’ve seen that before, and once is more than enough.)

Dalia’s maidservant’s conscience pricks her, and she tells Dalia that Shiraz could have betrayed them but didn’t. Dalia—bless her little Grinch heart—doesn’t care, and is furious to discover that the pass she forged is in the hands of the Prince’s guards (Shiraz having forgotten to ask for it back). Seeta Devi is just so deliciously bad in this! She poisons the poor girl and I totally covet that poison ring.

Meanwhile, Shiraz is prepared for death by the elephant foot and chained to some sort of board while the elephant is decorated and poked at with sticks to make him mad (okay I made that last part up) (he is decorated though). Will he be stomped to death as a horrified Selima watches from her prison cell? Will Dalia’s evil machinations work? Will Selima’s royal birth be revealed in time (or at all)?

I’m guessing that since most of us know the story behind the Taj Mahal, the rest of this won’t be too much of a surprise—but if you don’t want this particular story ending revealed to you, stop reading now (is anyone actually ever able to do that?). I’m going to go all the way with this one, since it’s not that easy to find.

*SPOILERS AHEAD*

Dalia’s smug (though delightfully dimpled) smile is a little premature: the maid revives enough to make her way to the Prince, where she spills her poisoned guts before dying.

Shiraz’s execution is stopped in the nick of time as the elephant foot hovers over his face, and he and Selima are brought to Prince Khurram. So is Dalia, and she is banished for her sins. The Prince asks Selima whether she loves Shiraz and she says that she loves him as she always has like a brother (poor Shiraz!) but that she loves the Prince. Gracious in defeat, Shiraz hands her gold amulet over to the Prince and the palace historian is called to examine it.

He knows what it is instantly.

He recounts the story of the loss of Princess Arjumand (Selima’s mother) and the caravan. Almost everyone is overjoyed at this happy outcome, and Prince Khurram marries Selima, renaming her Mumtaz Mahal. Shiraz returns to his work as a craftsman, heartbroken—and a little bit stalker-ish.

Then the day comes when Mumtaz—now the Empress—dies in childbirth. The Emperor and all his people, including the still-lurking Shiraz, are plunged into mourning.

The grief-stricken Emperor announces that he will build the most beautiful monument to the late Empress “in all the world” and he sends out an invitation to all the craftsmen in his empire to submit their designs. Despite having by now cried himself totally blind, Shiraz sets to work. Inspired by his love, he creates the winning entry, although when he is brought before the Emperor I don’t think he feels like a winner for long.

(I love that the intertitle is in all caps for that one.) Luckily the guy wielding the red-hot pokers realizes that Shiraz is already blind, and informs the Emperor—who finally recognizes him as his late wife’s “brother”. Whew! Shiraz moves into the palace and works with the Emperor’s builders to ensure that the monument is built, and then they all live happily ever after (at least until the Emperor’s son overthrows and imprisons him, but they don’t show that part).

*END SPOILERS*

I do hope that someday soon a restored Shiraz will become available on dvd along with Light of Asia, to join their sister A Throw of Dice. It is just stunning in its opulent production values and beautiful photography, not to mention its importance in cinema history. And the story is a lot of fun too, with wonderful touches of sly humor. Truly it’s worth seeing just for Seeta Devi’s “Lady Dalia” alone. Many many thanks to Himansu Rai’s grandson Peter for sending me this one—if there’s anything in my sadly limited power that I can do to help get these out there for all his fans, Peter, all you have to do is ask!

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84 Comments to “Shiraz (1929)”

  1. WOW, thanks for sharing. I have never seen any of our silent films. Is it possible to see this one?

    • Sadly I don’t think this one is readily available, but do try and get hold of the beautifully restored dvd of A Throw of Dice—it is available commercially, and has a lovely soundtrack by Nitin Sawhney added to it.

  2. Wonderful review Greta!! The screen caps are amazing, and so is the print clarity. I do hope they bring out the dvd’s soon.

    The movie took a lot of historic liberties, but then Indian movies are not known for their accuracy. The WTF moment for me was when Shiraz was called a ‘brother’, really felt for him. Believe me this word is as feared by Indian men now as it was then :)

  3. Wow I did not know Mumtaz was my feminine namesake :-D. Gorgeous caps. Seeta Devi seems to have especially got good ‘lighting’ – or was the whole gorgeous right through?

    Many scenes seems to have been shot on location.

    I wonder what sort of music accompanied these Hindi silent movies.

    • The whole thing is gorgeous, all the way through. I am not sure how much of this impression is based on the fact that I saw a less-than-stellar version of it (compressed, etc.) but it seemed very “painterly” to me, some scenes were just so beautifully staged and lit. It is all filmed on location, they make a point of saying that at the beginning of the film.

  4. Loved this! I wish i can get to see the film some day! Thank you so much for sharing

  5. That looks beautiful Memsaab, and your writing did the images justice :) It’s another one for my ‘maybe one day’ list. Thanks so much for sharing! I will say it again – This blog is one of the best filmi resources I have found. Cheers, Temple

    • You are nice Temple :) but writing can’t and doesn’t do this one justice, it’s really all about visuals…I wanted to screencap every single frame!

  6. Now I’m craving a glass of shiraz. Unfortunately, it’s just under 7 am, so that will be thwarted for much of the day. Darn work and their sobriety standards!

  7. Thank you for this. Your screencaps are so beautiful that I wanted to watch the film right away.

    Khurram in my country is a female name so I felt a bit weird reading it given to a male.

  8. great film choice as always! Thanks! Seeta Devi looks so radiant! And the shots look so clear. I always marvel at how good the cinematographers for black and white films were! Luckily, I am going to see a screening next weekend. Hope the print’s good.

    • Seeta Devi is gorgeous in this, truly. I loved her. And yes—great photography and lighting, it is just one treat after another. Am jealous you get to see a real screening of it—I am sure the print will be good!

  9. Oh, wow! Such a beautiful story and film. You’re so generous in the details and screencaps you include in your reviews that I feel like I’m watching the movie rather than reading about it. There has to be some karmic pay-off for all your good work – perhaps a dance with Shammi and Helen. :-D

  10. Wish I could see this! The captions are so nicely done. Lady Dalia is very beautiful.

    The cobra rearing up and not striking is a really ancient belief, I see – I remember a similar episode being described in an Amar Chitra Katha (a comics series beautifully depicting Indian mythology, history, fantastic stories) called Rana Sanga, in which this happens to a young man, who of course, goes on to suffer `Love, Sorrow and Fame immortal.’
    In more recent times, a similar occurence took place in a certain Hema Malini’s life when she was a baby, I forget which – heard this from my mother several times.
    My heart bled for Shiraz.
    Thanks for a very sincere review. Death by elephant’s foot, yes, I’ve read that other one too.

    • I’ve seen the cobra thing in many movies and hope fervently that it would happen to me too if I ever needed it to (though I have my doubts) :D

      My heart bled for poor Shiraz too :(

      • Me too! Every time my mother narrated that story. While there’s life, there’s still hope. There’s always the hereafter too.
        Occurrence, not occurence – love story padhke bheja fry ho jaata hai, kabhi kabhi.

  11. Got to agree with Shalini. The way you’ve written about this, it makes me feel like I’m watching the movie rather than reading about it. Wonderful review, Greta!

    This sounds like a fantastic film. The storyline sounds interesting and coherent (whether it is historically accurate or not!) and the screencaps indicate that a lot of effort has been paid to detail. I’ve only ever seen one other Himansu Rai movie (Light of Asia) and I was very impressed by that one too.

    It is good to see a normal kiss scene (instead of two flowers in a garden touching each other ;-) ). Indian movies of that period were so much more matter-of-fact about these things before pseudo-morality kicked in.

    Thanks for this lovely review, Greta. And thanks to Peter too, for giving us an opportunity to know more about this movie – he couldn’t have found a better medium. :-)

    • I think this might be my favorite of the three (Light of Asia, A Throw of Dice, Shiraz). Yes, LOTS of detail, and every bit of it lovely. All three really need to be put out there (boxed set, anyone?) :)

  12. Wow, such splendid scenes and such gorgeous set-ups!
    You are one lucky woman, Greta!
    And you are one gem of a woman for sharing it with us!
    Thanks!

    LOVE IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  13. Shiraz looks gorgeous–thank you so much, Memsaab, for your wonderful post about this visual gem. Movies in the late 20s really had reached a kind of perfection in cinematography.

    Like Salim, I wonder what the live musical accompaniment for these “silent” films was like. Silent films were rarely silent: at least in North America and Europe there was usually a live (and partially improvised) soundtrack provided by cinema musicians (from pianists and organists to full orchestras). Memsaab, do you know what sort of music would have been heard in Indian theaters while these movies were being shown?

    • I think that there was live music in India, as there was in the US and elsewhere. But somebody else may know more detail about it!

      • The original soundtrack for the screenings in German was composed by Willy Schmidt-Gentner. ~ spicevienna.org

      • Yes, there were musicians who would sit in front of the screen, in the musician’s box and play music. I have heard from my grand father how sometimes the music was really goood. I think there used to be musicians associated with movie theatres.

  14. Ah, I envy you, Greta! I’ve been trying to get hold of this for a long time, but reading your review was the closest I can get to it for a while, I guess. Thank you!

    • It does puzzle me a lot why these aren’t on a proper dvd…ah well. The vicissitudes of Indian dvd companies will never cease to amaze and frustrate me.

  15. This is a treasure. You are lucky to have watched it, and we are lucky to have heard about it. Thanks for this, and the lovely screencaps.

    A later version starring K L Sehgal had a slightly different story. K L Sehgal is crazy about a girl and composes a chartbuster about her beauty. The song brings her unwanted attention, and her parents are forced to send her to live in the palace for her protection. The palace women want her kept away from Shahjehan so he may not be tempted away from his wife. But a confident Mumtaz Mahal presents her in court as a test of her love. Shah Jehan passes the girl by without a glance, and passes the test of love. Later this famous beauty becomes the muse of the architect called to build Taj yada yada yada…

    • Ava, this one’s the one you mean, isn’t it?:

      http://memsaabstory.wordpress.com/2008/06/23/shahjehan-1946/

      I’d reviewed it too – good music but idiotic film. Shiraz sounds pretty ahistorical and inaccurate too, but I have a feeling it isn’t quite as cheesy!

      • Dustedoff, Thanks.. that is the movie I was referring to.

        Historical films rarely have truth in them, some facts are strung together with a heavy dose of fiction. That did not prevent my history teacher from quoting heavily from Mughl-e-azam and Sikender-e-azam. At least it made history more entertaining for us.

        I find it hard to judge these old films. One watches Shahjehan just to see KL Saigal in action. The songs were divine. Several movies of that era had stilted dialogue delivery, and actors look like cartoons. But hey, it was a different era altogether.

        • I agree, Ava. Even ‘historical’ films rarely have much to do with history – especially these large-scale extravaganzas that have been the hallmark of the Hindi historical! But I still enjoy films like Mughal-e-Azam or (to a lesser extent) Taj Mahal and their ilk, not because they’re accurate, but because they’re sumptuous, they have good music, (and Mughal-e-Azam had wonderful dialogues, as well), and they’re just a lot of fun.
          Plus, you do remember little tidbits of information that occasionally turn out – at some odd date, much later – to actually have been correct. I always thought Anarkali was a figment of someone’s imagination (I believe two playwrights from what is now Pakistan were the ones to originally write a play on her). Then, my father, doing some research, actually found a reference to a ‘Immequali’, in a memoir of a 16th century European traveller to Akbar’s court – this Immequali is supposed to have ‘ensnared’ Prince Salim enough to have incurred the Emperor’s wrath. :-)

          • I agree with you about historical movies being quite different from history. And while dialogs and music was good in Mughal-e-Azam, and the whole thing with Sheesh Mahal, I really don’t like that movie. (I wrote about it on my blog last month as one of the “classics” I just don’t get). As for music, I have always felt that Anarkali (starring Pradeep Kumar and Bina Rai), had music which was overall much better that Mughal-e-Azam – more melodious, more haunting and intense….

          • My favorite music from a Taj-Mahal-Mughal type storyline is Roshan’s for the 1963 “Taj Mahal” (also Pradeep Kumar, and a gorgeous Bina Rai)…every song in that is a gem.

          • Immequali – That is an amazing discovery. Even I thought that the Kissa Salim Anarkali was the product of Parsi Theatre. But every tale seems to be based on some fact in the past. Think of all those Greek plays, I am sure they were based on some episodes that the playwrights had heard of or experienced.

    • Yes, Shahjehan as DustedOff says! It was a ridiculous film plot-wise, but this one was just good embellishment of an old story. And so so beautiful.

  16. THANK YOU! and THANKS Peter for sending this to Memsaab. I was totally engrossed both by the review and the screen caps. Fantastic read. Here is a bit of trivia, Niranjan Pal’s father was freedom fighter Bipin Chandra Pal, though the present generation may not know much about him, he prominently figured in our history books. Niranjan married a British lady, this lady left home and hearth and set up home in India. Their son was called Colin. Colin Pal went on to become a fairly successful publicist in the Hindi film industry. What used to strike me every time I saw him was although an Anglo Indian and with a foreign name Colin, he was totally Indian. I have a faint memory of seeing him attired in traditional dhoti kurta, unlike Shashi Kapoor’s children, you could not tell he was half English.

  17. I wonder at the Indo GERMAN production. The early Hindi film industry seems to have strong connections with German film makers (even Pakeeza had cinematographer Josef Wirsching). Considering that India was a British Colony we would have expected Indo-British collaborations. Perhaps Peter can throw light on the German connection with the Bombay film industry.

    • Himansu Rai went to Germany to learn about filmmaking. The Germans had a pretty significant presence in the film industry in the early days…maybe they were more open to collaborating with Indians than the English were, who knows? Maybe Peter does :)

  18. Colin Pal played the role of Subhash Chandra Bose in a Hindi move. QUIZ: Which movie :)

  19. Good one, Surjit and Maitri!!!!! I need to see Samadhi for Shyam alone, although the rest of the cast is all good too :)

  20. Colin Pal wrote a book about his experiences in Bollywood. Very interesting. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colin_Pal The entry says he ‘starred’ in Parineeta and Naukari. No way. I have the movies; he is just one of many.

    • Yes, the problem with Wikipedia is that it isn’t always an “objective” view of things :) I would love to read his book though—is it in English?

  21. Memsaab, do you know more about the actress Seeta Devi? Did she work in any talkie? How many films did she do? etc.

  22. Memsaab, do you know more about the actress Seeta Devi? Did she work in any talkie? How many films did she do? etc.

  23. Google and Wikipedia re your best friends, always look there first

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seeta_Devi

  24. From what I read about Seeta Devi, her first film came in 1925 when she was 15 and her last film came in 1930 when she must be only 20. I wonder why she never acted in a talkie. Since she was already a star, why she must have given-up acting so early.

  25. Yeah Sad, wish her career had flourished

  26. As usual quite interesting conversations. Seeta Devi’s real name was Renee Smith. There is a titillating but unsubstantiated story (repeated by several old-timers, now unfortunately dead) that she did a nude scene in Krishnakanter Will in 1926. There is a reference to such a nude scene in Aruna Vasudev’s book Liberty and Licencein Indian Cinema (Vikas Publishing) but no reference to who did it. Maybe it was some other character actress.

    She and the whole host of Anglo-Indian actresses disappeared after the silent era because they could not cope with the language. The only one to have survived well into the talkie era was Sulochana (aka Ruby Myers) — not to be confused with the Sulochana (Latkar) who did mother roles from the 1960s to the 1980s. That was a Marathi actress (who had played lead roles in Marathi films) and was of Muslim descent. Her real name is Sahebjaan and she stays at Prabhadevi in Mumbai. There was another Sulochana in the South films who was later known as Raja Sulochana. And then there is Sulochana Chatterji in Bengali films.

    As for Colin Pal, as Shilpi has pointed out, lived as a pucca Bengali gentleman (bhadralok?). No one would have suspected the English blood in him. Soft-spoken and kindly. A prolific writer of film trade columns, he also wrote a monograph on his father. He is survived by a son called Deep Pal who is a cinematographer and has also directed several documentaries. His most famous/infamous one was The Cages which was shown at Oberhausen but then ran into controversies because it was alleged that it had many staged interviews. I wrote his second documentary (produced by Ramesh Patel of Filmcentre) called Beneath The Blue Skies. He then shifted to Chennai as a steadicam operator.

    • Very interesting post Sanjit. Manorama was another actress who was actually half Irish – she began early as a child artiste and must have acted in silent movies – her grasp of Hindustani language was wonderful. Just see her in the old Parineeta (by Bimal Roy starring Ashok Kumar and Meena Kumari) – and no mean artist. I believe she was bitter at being ignored by the industry in her waning years – and surprised many with her act in Deepa Mehta’s Water (a film I have to see).

    • I’ve been looking for his book “Shooting Stars” for a while! I guess it gives me something to get up every day for :D

  27. It looks stunning. You are so lucky to have seen it. I hope it will be available soon. I envy the filmmakers of the time, who could shoot in locations which today would be unaffordable or inaccessible to all but the biggest producers. As for history, :)

  28. Very true, Salim! But Manorama made her debut much after the silent era. There are claims that she started as a child artiste in 1926 but they are not substantiated by any evidence of actual films. Besides it is not possible since she was born in 1927 or thereabouts since she was 81 when she passed away on February 15, 2008. Actually she made her debut in 1946 as a leading lady in Khamosh Nigahen, Rehana and Shalimar (all in 1946) and Chunaria (1948). She moved to second leads with Ghar Ki Izzat (1948) opposite Gope and starring Dilip Kumar whose third or fourth film it was. Many clippings of Ghar Ki Izzat with Manorama are up on You Tube. But by the 1950s she had put on considerable weight — she was always a little plump. By the mid 1950s she had begun to bag good comedy roles: Jhanak Jhanak Payal Baaje, Half Ticket and Budtameez (1966). Her most remembered is her classic role in Seeta Aur Geeta (1972). Her last film was Deepa Mehta’s Water. Her real name was Erin Isaac Daniels and she was married to character actor Rajen Haksar.

    • Wow!! Hats off to you Sanjit! I stand corrected. Very much impressed by your detailed knowledge. Do you blog on cinema? I am sure it would make interesting reading.

    • I’ve written about Manorama’s early films here somewhere…she was really cute for about ten minutes, but her weight was a struggle. Baburao is brutal to her in my 50s Filmindia magazines!

  29. Oops… am I addressing Mr. Narwekar, past News Editor of Screen and author of several books on film history?!

  30. Very interesting review and very interesting comments. I’d like to get back to this… But this time, at the moment, I just have time to comment regarding Manorama…

    Wasn’t that Manorama acting and dancing in Khandan, which was made in 1942? I think I’ve posted this dance here before (and thanks to Vidur Sury for putting it on YouTube and identifying her in it):

  31. Yes, that’s definitely her. I saw her in 1941’s Khazanchi and posted a trivia question after that: http://memsaabstory.wordpress.com/2010/01/24/trivia-time-39/

    :)

    • On the basis of this I can understand why Baburao Patel tore into her :) – but she was good playing on the sidelines. The leering audience was true to life :D

  32. Yes! I was News Editor of Screen from 1980 to 1991 when I left to write books and make films. My books are listed in Wikipoedia. I have made around 50 documentary films — a few on film subjects including a recent one on V.Shantaram (2010/43 minutes). Also associated with a docu on Devendra Goel.

    • Would love to see the documentaries, are they available anywhere?

      My suitcases are always full of books about Indian cinema history when I leave India…can hardly pick them up :) It’s hard to find them here, although getting easier.

      • I think the Devendra Goel docu was included as an “extra” with many of his film DVDs. The docus on V.Shantaram and the Copyright Protection Act are produced by Films Division and DVDs are available with them. I am actually working on a series of one-hour films on the pionjeers of western India: Dadasaheb Phalke, Baburao Painter, V.Shantaram (made), Bimal Roy, Raja Paranjapye as and when I get the finances to make the films. I am also working on a film on Dilip Kumar slated for November 1913 which will be the thespian’s 90th birthday. It is based on my book Dilip Kumar: The Last Emperor (Rupa/2003). You might also want to read my book on the history of comedy films: Eena Meena Deeka (Rupa/2005). Many of these books should be available on the net but they will be more expensive in dollar terms. Maybe the best bet is to buy them when you are in India next.

        • Oh, I have read your biography of Dilip Kumar, and I really love Eena Meena Deeka—it’s just the type of book we need lots more of (focusing on supporting players) and is one of my favorites in my B’wood library. And I did get both of them in India ;-) Will see if I can find your documentaries!

  33. hi, i noticed you’ve written about light of asia, shiraz, and prapancha pash – if you’re likely to be interested in a recent copy of niranjan pal’s biography, pls let me know, and i can arrange to have it sent. thanks, j. pal.

  34. 1. Another example of the “cobra rearing, but not striking” motif is Do Kaliyan, presented as a miracle of Bhagwan Balaji in this strong Hindu-isation of The Parent Trap (with Manorama).

    2. That lady might count as an Anglo-Indian, since her father was white, but Colin Pal, sometimes as “Colin Paul’ (as the surname “Pal” was often rendered), film publicist, does not (a white mother doth not an Anglo-Indian make). If his name was given at baptism rather than at a nam-karan, it makes him a Bengali Christian (our communities have different cultural styles, though these sometimes overlapped in less “traditional” families). But that Mr J Pal above can confirm or deny.

    Sanjay Sircar

    • he wasn’t christian or baptized. to the knowledge of everyone who ever knew him, he had no religious affiliation. his name was ananda chandra pal, colin was just what his mother, lily, called him affectionately, and it stuck because it was what everyone called him after he returned to india (he was born and his early years were in london). colin paul was sometimes erroneously used because people assumed someone with a first name colin must be a paul than a pal….

  35. Dear Memsaab,
    It was a pleasure reading your interpretation/review of Shiraz.I am doing my PhD on the works of Franz Osten.I think the films of Osten are master pieces which has not been explored well.Since Osten and Himanshu Rai collaborated on a number of projects together, my research would cover Himanshu Rai as well. Could you please suggest how I could get in touch with Mr.Peter, the grandson of Mr.Himanshu Rai? I am sure that getting in touch with him, would help me enrich my research.
    best
    Sadiq

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