A Memsaab in India


I won’t be watching many—or writing about any—films over the next few weeks. I’ll be traveling around in India with my friend Suhan, although hopefully nobody will have to carry me.

When I return I will no doubt have lots of pictures of stray puppies:




of all kinds:


and hopefully at least some of India’s lovely sights (although I am very easily distracted by animals and small children):


If anything truly exciting happens (e.g. Shammi sees me and falls instantly in love with me; stalking Rajesh Khanna with Suhan bears any fruit; Ranjeet invites me to dinner; Dara Singh picks me up and spins me around over his head; and so on) I will be sure to let you know!

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116 Comments to “A Memsaab in India”

  1. Lucky you!!!! Have a great trip, eat tons of good food, do loads and loads of shopping and come back soooooooooon! :-D (I hope Shammi understands that for your reader’s sake you have to return…)

  2. Have a lovely one!
    PC x

  3. What fun! Have fun, and say Hi to Shammi, Rajesh et.al…..


  4. Bon voyage! I await your return.

  5. Never ever in my dreams, did I imagine that there would be a group of bloggers celebrating a week full of Shashi Kapoor….I mean, he has been a great actor, and we all know of his charm..but he has unfortunately been sort of a sidekick to Mr Bachhan. He even confessed that in one of his interviews. He also confessed that he enjoys theatre more than cinema, and so he and his daughter Sanaja are actively into Prithvi theatre.

    I would love to read a review of 36 chowringee lane, if it is yet not written by you or Beth.


  6. have fun memsaab! stay safe!

  7. Glad you are on a trip to India again Memsaab. I am sure you will have tons of fun. Looking forward to your recount and good photos!

  8. The worst part is leaving Miss Gemma, although she will be spoiled rotten by her hosts…oh but it makes my heart HURT to leave her (in case you can’t tell, I just dropped her off)…

    But thank you all very much for your good wishes :) India—and Bollywood—awaits!

  9. I love your photos! – And do have a good trip (am looking forward to meeting you!)

  10. Hey great!
    have a nice trip to India and wish you lots of fun while shopping and making tours!
    Wish you, that you can really meet Shammi kapoor et al. I understand your grief at parting from Gemma. But just think how fun the reunion will be!
    And above all wish you less of irritating and pushy pedlars, rickshawwallahs and all sorts of wallahs! And no confrontations with MCPs!
    Have fun, enjoy the food and good health!
    Will miss your reviews!

  11. best! and when you return, I am off to write exams over on the other side of the pond…not a fun trip at all

  12. Have a wonderful trip, Greta !

  13. woohoo..enjoy your trip:)

  14. Have a good trip and come back safely.

  15. Bon Voyage Memsaab! Missing you already :)

  16. same from me: have a wonderfull trip and bring back a lot of new input!
    i’m jealous!!! ;)

  17. Best of Luck !!!
    Shall I decorate places with chandeliers in honor of yours ??!! :-)
    btw, which places are you visiting?

  18. Hope you have a great trip. And I hope you will dedicate at least one blog entry to posting the highlights (and any interesting lowlights) and photos from your journey!


  19. I hope you have a good time.

  20. Have a great trip…
    are you going to be in Pallika Bazaar, buying up loads of DVDs???

  21. Have a lovely time Memsaab!

  22. Thanks all of you :) Maybe because of your good wishes, I am having a great time so far! Spent all day Tuesday on the sets of 3 Idiots, met Aamir Khan and Boman Irani (again) and also Kunal Khemu, who was just there hanging out for a bit (and cute as a button). He was surprised (but pleased) that I recognized him. Aamir tried to stump me with some trivia :) He seems very focused and intense, but nice. Yesterday I had the very great pleasure to meet lovely Banno (and Teja and Dhanno) and it was just as much fun as I knew it would be. They fed me a yummy lunch and it was just great to meet them in person. Tonight I’m on the sets again of 3 Idiots; they are shooting a wedding and Kareena and Madhavan and Sharman Joshi will be there in addition to Aamir and Boman. It’s really interesting to see all the effort behind the scenes that goes into making a film. More detail when I get back, and I’ll keep updating as and when I can!

  23. oh…….my …………God…………I am fainting……..



    Now came back. You really enjoyed shoot?? Must be a fantastic experience. Photoes photoes photoes pleaseeeeeeeeee.

  24. you met aamir!
    and talked to him!

    *fall of the chair*

    Envy you!


  25. Some are just…..lucky!!! Enjoy ur trip in Bollywood. And say hi to Boman!!!

  26. I’m so happy that your trip is going so well! And you met Kunal Khemu! And Aamir! (The Bollywood Fan is hitting his head on his keyboard with exasperation when he sees the order in which I mentioned them.) What a lovely, lovely time. I expect a full report, with bloggish-type scrapbook photos, upon your return. ;-)

  27. I am so envious!!! Have a good, good time :-)

  28. Aamir! And Kareena too!!!!! Lucky, lucky you! By the way, what did Aamir ask you?

    Cant wait to hear all the details of your interesting trip!

  29. Sounds so wonderful, all the meetings, and how wonderful tohang around on a film set — hope every day brings more joy!!

  30. Aamir asked me which film Mother India was based on (I knew that it was Aurat also by Mehboob Khan). I think that impressed him. The next question I had no clue about—which Hindi film was based on The Dirty Dozen (but Boman was there, and of course he knew immediately: Do Aankhen Barah Hath); then Aamir asked what Raj Khosla’s first film as a director was. I couldn’t remember the name right off but knew I had just seen it. Aamir thought it was CID but I was pretty sure that was wrong, and in fact it was Milap. So I got him on two out of three :-)

    Last night I played word games between shots with Aamir, Kareena and Madhavan and Vinod Chopra’s sister Shelly (who is a HOOT); it was, as you’d expect, lots of fun. It takes SO long to set every new shot up :-) Now I am in Hyderabad and my Bolly adventures are subsiding for a bit (I am so looking forward to being touristy though!). Aamir has offered to set up a meeting with Shammi for me when I go back through Bombay in April…so keep your fingers crossed for me!

    • OMG!! really?????????????


    • Dirty Dozen =/= Do Ankhen Barah Haath.

      One is about 12 prisoners who sign up for a suicidal mission to assassinate Nazi generals during WWII, and the other is about a progressive prison warden who comes up with an innovative idea to reform six prisoners. No comparison!!

      Tell Boman he needs to brush up on his trivia. ;)

    • Dirty Dozen was released TEN YEAS AFTER “Do Aankhein Barah Haath (1957)”. Even the book “Dirty Dozen” was published was published in 1965, about 8 years after the Hindi film. It’s the other way round. Boman should definitely brush up on his trivia.

  31. You trumped Aamir! :-D Yay! You should try some of them on your trivia questions.

    And here’s hoping you DO meet up with Shammi. All the best.

    Enjoy Hyderabad and have some awesome biryani for me, too!

  32. LOL! @ monkeys of all kinds… hope you have a fantastic time! Keep us posted on the fun times. Travel safe.

  33. Wow, memsaab, this must seem like a dream. I feel really happy for you…. Wish I could be in spirit to see the great Shammi… As a youngster, I used to keep a video cassette ready to tape any Shammi song that was ever shown on Indian TV. In the 80s there was series of audio casettes on HMV called Yahoo… it featured all the famous Rafi/Shammi songs… Of course got those DVDs of all his songs put together… but nothing was as exciting as building up your Shammi collection… All the best… See if you can visit the neighbouring state of Kerala… back water rides and a cook on the boat to make you some Malayali food.

    • I won’t believe it until I actually meet him! But I will most definitely tell him how much people still love him, hopefully he knows that already anyway.

      I won’t make it to Kerala this time, but I have been there and it was truly beautiful…

  34. I hope you meet THE MAN himself, girl! Here’s luck to you and remember when you meet him, that there are a lot of fans on your blog that are coming with you in spirit. What will you say??
    Aamir sounds like a hoot as well. I would love to be friends with him. I still can’t believe you managed a set visit. What is Kareena like in person? We want to set up a set visit too…waahhhh…Good on you kiddo!

  35. ere’s luck to you and remember when you meet him, that there are a lot of fans on your blog that are coming with you in spirit.

    Me too!! Me too! :-)

  36. If I meet him (don’t want to jinx myself any more than I already have) I will most definitely tell him about the love for him here!

    Aamir is very nice, although there is a reserve about him which is only natural considering how in demand he must be all the time. He has a great sense of humor, and is very curious about others—not self-absorbed in the least. Kareena is just gorgeous (and I am glad to say that though she is very slender she is not at all skeletal :)…she was much more reserved than the others, although she was very pleasant to me. She was very tired, poor thing (it was a long night)…Madhavan is the most outgoing of all of them, very funny and lots of energy.

  37. You met Aamir ? and he promised to set up a meeting with Shammi ? I hope that materialises. In the maenwhile enjoy your visit to Hyderabad, though it must be hot as a oven in Hyderabad outdoors.

  38. BTW, I know there is some big connection that Aamir and Shammi had… Maybe dates back to Aamir’s uncle (or dad?) producing Teesri Manzil.. Shammi’s biggest hit to date… I know Aamir visited Shammi’s house to release the music of “Jane Tu Jane na”…

    This sounds so exciting as if we are going to meet him.. DO you think he will let you video shoot a part of the meetings for the throngs of people… atleast hope he lets you take snapshots of him and you..

    • Aamir’s uncle (and Memsaab favorite) Nasir Husain directed Shammi’s first couple of big hits and they became close friends. So Aamir grew up with Shammi and calls him Uncle…

  39. Cool! Have you picked out an engagement ring for your Shammi visit yet???? ha ha ha

  40. Hi Memsaab…Enjoy your trip in India, have fun and keep on sharing things with us!!
    No plans to meet Ranjeet the hot villain?? ^^

  41. Damn, you’re having a better time in India than I ever have! :D I’m really waiting to see what the Shammi encounter brings. I don’t know why I never show him the love he’s due!

    Oh, and if its not too crass, when you see Shammi, will you ask him to check whether Shashi is available to say hello? Not to get greedy or anything, but that would be icing on the cake!

    • You are too funny :-) I will certainly try to find time to bring up the Shash—how could I not?

      That is if I am still conscious, which I certainly am not going to take for granted!

    • amrita:

      fancy seeing you here!


      first time on your blog. will spend more time over the weekend.

      – s.b.

  42. Now THIS is what a film-lover’s holiday should be like! Hope you have a great time for the rest of your vacation.


  43. Aww, why did you have to do that?

    A bunch of my friends — who don’t know you and therefore think that my knowledge of Hindi film trivia is amazing — keep teasing me about being able to identify even the extras in a movie scene by name.

    If you had actually taken him up on that offer, I could’ve pointed you out to friends and said, “You see that gori in the background? Her name is Greta.”

    See what I’m missing because you turned Raju down? :-D

  44. very unkind of you to decline the kind offer!

  45. I missed something…who is Raju? HOpe you are having a great time.

  46. Hey Greta, I forgot to ask if you were planning a stop at Bob Cristo’s Spa in Bangalore. That is where I hope to take vacation at someday.

  47. Hi Memsaab

    You are in my city Hyderabad! Hope u enjoyed the historical sights and the food but forgive the locals for the traffic jam nightmares that are common!

    • Hyderabad is just lovely, and I will have to return there for sure. Golconda Fort was so impressive (although my muscles are still protesting from the climb). Traffic is a nightmare in every city! I saw a hilarious sign yesterday on a Delhi road that said “For safety, please stay in your lane”—LOL! What lane?! That sign should appear in the dictionary next to the word “futile” :-)))

      • Good – u can perhaps join me when i visit India next time ie to be in Hyd again!

        Glad u r enjoying ur stay and absolutely LoL at the sign in Delhi and ur suggestion!

        You will pehaps now be tempted to watch Bomairllu (shot in Hyd) and also Anand (see Nicki’s review of this movie on ur return)

  48. when r u meeting shammi.
    i personally am no fan of shammi, but the fact that u will soon be meeting ur idol, make me gitter!
    good luck!

  49. Bring me back some of that SRK approved Masterstroke whiskey!

  50. Had the great pleasure of meeting fellow blogger and oldies film fan Madhu here in Delhi :) We had a good time shopping (well, I shopped and she enabled me). Delhi is a lovely city, lots of green space (huge parks) and ancient monuments/forts/tombs wherever you look. Tonight I’m attending a big Bengali wedding (Suhan’s cousin), and then tomorrow we’re off to Calcutta for a few days. Have never been there, so am excited to see it!

  51. Calcutta should be a lot of fun and it might even be less dusty than Delhi. The sweets there are amazing and so are the sarees! Have fun…

  52. Ah, Kolkata! My favourite city in the universe. I spent six years living there, and I’ve never been happier before or since.

    If your system can stand it, try some of the street food — puchkas, jhaal muri, rolls… And of course the sweets. Also, if you have the time, try this restaurant called Kewpie’s Kitchen. I could go on…


  53. Glad to hear you’re having such a wonderful time! If you get to meet Shammi please ask about working with Helen. Would love to hear stories of working together with her. Namaste.

  54. Well next time I got to Kolkotta, I know who to take. I went with my brothers last December and didn’t have such a great time there, but I knew it was because they were too scared to actually go into Kolkotta. We were at a conference and you know how protected those are. You don’t really get any feel of the local atmosphere. I would love to walk the streets and get street food if I can get acclimatised at some point in my life.

  55. I hope you have a great time in Cal – if you can, go and have a look at the Victoria Memorial; I think you’d like it. And you are toooo generous to say I enabled your shopping; I think a lot of the stallholders at Dilli Haat were quite amazed to see a gori who could figure out most of what they said in Hindi, and knew the difference between kaantha and chikan. Atta-girl!

    • I am loving my kantha kurti :) Will need to return to Dilli Haat again soon! The Victoria Memorial here is being renovated, and so is the main Indian Museum so I have been quite thwarted on that front, although Suhan and I did visit the Marble Palace—and it was CRACKtastic indeed. I will say more upon my return home :)

  56. what is kaantha and chikan?
    I thought that is fork (kaantha) and chicken.

  57. harvey, I remember telling one of my colleagues that a very extravagant relative of mine went to Lucknow for a weekend, and came back with 20,000 worth of chikan. My colleague actually thought I meant chickens, and was quite puzzled as to why my relative would’ve bought 100 odd (definitely more) hens to accompany her on the Lucknow-Delhi train!!

    Unless you’re pulling my leg and encouraging me to be pedantic, kaantha and chikan are both types of embroidery – kaantha from Bengal and chikan from Lucknow. Both lovely, and memsaab knew the difference – and she impressed me very much by knowing a lot about other traditional Indian crafts too! Much more than many Indians I know. :-)

  58. I thought as much from the context, but I would be lying if I said I knew exactly what they meant before.
    thanks for the info!
    One doesn’t only learn about hindi movies on hindi film blogs but also about other useful things.

    • Thanks for the laugh though :) I love the idea of forks and chickens!!!!! I did not know that kantha meant fork, so you have taught me something new.

      Chamchas and kanthas…….

      I do love my Indian textiles, though. Suhan’s mother lent me a lovely Bengali cotton saree to wear one evening (and some jewellery too!). Photos when I get back :)

  59. In the movies, Bengalis getting married wear beautiful white crown-like head-gear. I can’t tell what they are made of. I hope you got to see these hats!!

    from VIRGINIA

  60. You’re welcome, harvey!

    Virginia: Those are made of the pith of shola wood (the same stuff used to make the `sola topees’ the British wore so much in India to keep off the sun).

  61. HarveyHarvey, Chikan and Kantha (Chicken and fork), THAT is hilarious….

  62. Lovely to hear about your experiences in India, Greta.
    Am sure we will read more details when you get back but mini-travelogue is already very interesting.
    So, when you do meet Shammi ? Like somebody here has said, your meeting him is like all of us meeting him. You carry a huge responsibility on yourself. Just kidding. :-) Do wish him the very best from ALL of us.

    Enjoy yourself – remember to get loads of pics.

    • I am scheduled to meet Shammi at 4:30 pm on Saturday the 11th. Right before I leave to come home! I am now frantically wondering what I should wear and hoping desperately that I don’t make an idiot of myself. Luckily Raju will go with me and they can talk about films and at least Shammi will be glad to meet him. I can just sit quietly in a corner with my eyes wide open :-D

  63. Memsaab,

    Raju Hirani is your friend? You’re so so lucky to have met Aamir and the gang of 3 Idiots!

    Where are you now? Hope your India trip is going great!


    • I am also lucky to have Raju as a friend :) He is a very nice man, as you would expect if you’ve seen his lovely films. I was lucky to meet the 3 Idiots gang, cast AND crew: they were all a lot of fun and very very nice.

      I have been in Calcutta and down to the Sundarbans for the past 4-5 days (no internet connection there!). Didn’t see any tigers and thought I might die from the intense heat, but very lovely landscape and did see other wildlife. I am heading back to Bombay today for a couple of days and then home. Time has flown by but I am looking forward to getting back to my Gemma girl too—have missed her a lot!

  64. Happy Easter!
    to everybody, who comes this great, hospitable blog!

  65. I caanot even string words together to make a sentence. I am so envious. How come I never get to go exciting places in India????

    Next time I shall be your sola topee carrier even if you arnt doing sola topees that season.

    Please makes eyes at Aamir on my behalf when you see him next at Shammi Uncle’s place. He will probably be there to serve you chai and pakoras while you chat up his Uncleji. He is a wily one and he does like gori women!

    • I was longing for a sola topee in the Sundarbans I can tell you. Was really really really really really HOT.

      I don’t think I will see Aamir again, he is quite busy these days! But I am very grateful to him for contacting Shammi uncle on my behalf :) I think I might have to have an Aamir Khan week here on the blog to pay tribute to his charm and wit!

  66. Good luck visiting the MAN.

    If you don’t already know, Shakti Samanta died today. You may want to know in case they start talking about it.

    Tell him Hema gives her love. I hope he enjoyed my fan video that I know he watched a while ago with 3 doors down Kryptonite as music.

    If anyone wants to watch this video it is on my website http://www.sanskritcamp.blogspot.com
    and search for Shammi Kapoor entries on the right hand bar.

    Love you Memsaab. I would wear a sari.

    • How do you know he watched it???? :) What fun!

      I did see that Shakti Samanta died yesterday :( He made a lot of wonderful films. I selfishly also hope that it doesn’t have any impact on my scheduled meeting (does that make me a bad person?)…

  67. Cant wait to hear all about your meeting with Shammi Kapoor! All the best. And I am so glad you are coming back, soon. :-D

  68. I am glad to be coming home soon too :) I think Gemma has forgotten all about me—she has made herself quite at home with my friends apparently, and will probably not want to come home with me! I’m also going through film withdrawal! Isn’t THAT ironic???? :)

    Will post pictures and commentary as soon as I can, and will surely tell Shammi how devoted his fans are. If I am able to speak at all, that is.

  69. Have a wonderful time with Shammi, Memsaab! I’m so excited for you!

  70. Best of luck, Greta. With luck, you must have met the MAN by now.

  71. Are you still conscious? ;-)

    How’d the MEETING go? Come on, tell ALL. I am dying to hear everything!

  72. My thoughts are on Gemma. One tends to forget one’s owner if she is away for such a long period. Hopefully Gemma will reunite with Great like they do in the last reel of a Manmohan Desai movie.

    • LOL @ a Manmohan Desai reunion! She was happy to be home, and to see me, and went around the house checking out all her favorite spots to make sure they were still there and still comfortable; then she went off to sleep and ignored me for the rest of the day. Good to know that she hasn’t changed :)

  73. Hey Memsaab,

    thanks for posting details of your very wonderful trip. I have only traveled to India once and, while it was a fun-filled adventure, I certainly did not have the opportunity to visit movie sets, meet Aamir Khan or Kareena, eat biryani in Hyderabad, OR have a private audience with Shammi!!! I am extremely envious of your travels although your postings and photos at least allow one to experience it vicariously! I was hoping to return to India this year and visit areas I wasn’t able to see last time (really want to see Kolkata and Varanaasi, and to get to south India – although I’ve seen Kerala too.) but won’t make it. Perhaps next year.

    Welcome back and very glad to learn that Gemma is once again mistress of her domain!

  74. Ha :-) I know I am very very very very lucky to have had the trip I had and to have the friends I have there. It was my fifth trip there; I am determined to get back there once a year at least—I used to go to places I hadn’t seen yet on my vacations but that’s all shot to pieces since I fell in love with India. Hope you do get to go back as much as you want!

    • I am fascinated by your trip to India and meeting the main man Shammi Kapoor. I would really love to know how it was like for you to meet him. I have been a Shammifan since my formative years and always dreamt of meeting him but it never quite materialised for various reasons I imagine.
      I often poder on the influence and impact he had in my life. I remember when I was a teenager I used to dress like him.

      Along with a large group of Shammifans, I set up the first Shammi Kapoor International Fan Club back in the sixties. Once a Shammifan always a Shammifan.

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