My filmi family portrait

I’ve said on these pages many times that actors in Hindi cinema become like family after you watch enough films over the years. The same faces, essentially playing the same roles…eventually you wake up one day and realize that they are as familiar to you as the people you grew up with (well, many of you DID grow up with them, you lucky souls!).

Anyway, I got to thinking the other day about what a Memsaab family photo might look like. Who would be in it, who would be cropped out. Of course, I would be at the center of it: me and my beloved Shammi, and little Gemma too—probably trying to lick Shammi’s hand. Sisters Laxmi Chhaya, Kumari Naaz, Bela Bose, and didi Helen would flank us, completely overdressed for the occasion. Moody and unstable brother Shyam Kumar would be off to the side, so that we could easily trim him out should he really go over the edge one day. Naughty-boy neighbors Ranjeet and Feroz Khan would lurk nearby, waiting for Shammi to turn his back so they could wink at me and maybe cop a feel. Faithful family retainer Nazir Kashmiri would water flowers with the “help” of dog Moti; but horses Raja and Badal would be absent, off grazing in the meadow and keeping an eye out for that rascal dacoit Vinod Khanna, who is constantly trying to kidnap me. Which is why Shammi hired Dharmendra as my bodyguard (he’s trusting, is my Shammi).

The point of all this is mostly to remind you to keep an eye on my long-lost kin, and check out updates to our old family photos. I want to take this opportunity to especially thank Ash, Beth, Trinidad, Raja and Neena for providing me with screenshots and names to go with them!

I’ve been busy with other stuff lately and not had much time for movie watching or blogging (mindless Photoshop idiocy I can do while on conference calls, writing not so much). I did find time to make a new banner too: a chhoti memsaab (me) dreams of growing up to be a voluptuous vamp who parties with Shashi, but gets more than she bargained for when he brings his handcuffs and some festive balloons.

And yes, I do realize that this entire post makes me seem insane.

Header images (except me) courtesy of the awesome PC at Third Floor Music.
Paper doll clothing and accessories image source here.

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67 Comments to “My filmi family portrait”

  1. You’re not insane, you’re adorable :)

  2. Thats the cutest family ever! Please indulge in some more “mindless Photoshop idiocy” – this is one family that we MUST know more about…

  3. Your Bollywood bemari has reached the advanced stage, I see. I can think of only one course of treatment – Shammi will have to pretend to fall in love with you and chase you from scenic spot to scenic spot singing romantic songs.


  4. You and Gemma look totally adorable! And right at home. Keep inviting us to your family get-togethers.

  5. awwwwwwwwwwww………

  6. The cutest post–they are family of course! Years ago (the 90’s actually) my family was the cast of Northern Exposure. I was so familiar with them that I’d pop them into my conversations–Well, Maggie said etc etc…
    And yes, you are quite right to not have Dharmendra as “bhaiyya”. That would have a truly terrrible outcome!
    Also love your thought bubbles–Shashi in handcuffs is a truly delicious thought. Another one would be Rajesh Khanna or Sanjeev Kumar as awkward professor.

  7. Do I get the position of a “honorary non filmy cousin ” hanging on the sides in this awesome filmy family of yours ?

  8. Nice, Shammi as husband and Dharm as bodyguard. How about Shashi as your chauffeur? (remember Waqt) Shashikala as the mean sister in law and Lalita Pawar as your ma in law? TunTun as your maid/companion? Jeevan as your banker? Ifteqar as your friendly family policewallah? Sadhna and her hubby Rajendra Kumar are your neighbours and you go shopping with her ! Woooooo What a universe !

    • I see that you understand me completely. This could so easily become an ongoing soap opera type thing, hai na?

    • Poor Shashikala, take Shyama as the mena sis-in-law, she can do the mena eyebrow thing just as good as mom-in-law Lalita Pawar!
      Shashikala could be the mali Ramu kaka’s daughter, who is secretly in love with Shammi but will never get him.

  9. Absolutely fantastic! What a good morning, to wake up to this. All I’ve ever wanted to do is grow up into a voluptuous vamp, aka Bindu! :)

    • Had to laugh so much at: “Helen is married to Pran. But we crop him out of our family photos”
      Why isn’t life as easy as Photoshopping?

    • I don’ t know how the comment above appeared here. it was supposed to be way down below.
      I just wanted to give Banno a Shabhashi for her statement above!

  10. Your albums are great too. Seriously good, good work, Memsaab.

  11. You forget Nazir Kashmiri as Ramu Kaka! ;-)

    Love your new banner, by the way – delightful!

    • No I didn’t! (You can click on the picture to enlarge it in case you missed him for the same reason I would, ie eyesight massively deteriorating from hours spent on the computer) (oh, and old age, at least for me).

      Please to note that Feroz is armed with a lollipop (heyyyy little girl, want some candy?) and daku Vinod is stealing apples from our orchard (because we live in Kashmir of course).

  12. And Mumtaz as your best friend, but then you will have to guard Shammi, the hubby.

    • Actually Mumu could be my evil twin sister (we looked sort of alike when we were young). And she most definitely would need to stay away from my Shammi! *falls off chair laughing*

  13. Bindu re Bindu. Balloons. What a banner!!

  14. Nice change of banner and a very original family!
    But where is Asha Parekh? Your fav actress?
    This reminds me of cut out dolls on the back of detergent boxes in the 70s in Bombay.
    I still remember Pedro!

    • Asha is my very best friend in the whole world and lives next door. She can make an appearance in the next family portrait.

      I want to see these detergent boxes!!!!!! They sound FAB.

  15. verrrryyyy cute….:) but where is the very cute Mumtaz and Asha Parekh???? did u forget them?

  16. What a great idea!

    Since I’m missing comedians – sister Bela Bose’s Boy friend, Rajendernath, and that of didi Helen, Mehmood. :-)

  17. I wonder if they have these “Surf” detergent boxes somewhere? They were basically same thing like at the site above, just that they colors were different. O you have opened a whole flood gates of memory and as usual I’m terribly confused.

    Shouldn’t a real hindi phillum family foto also have mataji and pitaji?

  18. Waah waah, what a fertile imagination for a post. I could never have thought about it.

    Since this is such an extended family full of distant and not so distant relatives, friends and foes, where are Sunil Dutt, Kishore Kumar, Dev Anand… and that familiar bartender (I am forgetting his name ).

  19. Oh my goodness, how fun is that?! Memsaab, your whimsy is excellently expressed in words, but when it takes a turn for the visual I feel like we’ve got a brief peek into your mind. :-)

  20. I’d let Vinod kidnap me honestly- and Firoz too, if he’d be enthu- go for it Memsaab! :D

  21. Wow! a very nice post dear. I guess you are big bollywood fan, because you made everyone a part of your family. So sweet dear. Loved it.

  22. Insane ? You crazy ? :-)
    This is SO cute and you are just SO brilliant and adorable !!!
    I fell off my chair laughing, not just at the images but at the story that is building up, thanks also to comments from others. :-)
    This would be a mega-hit Bollywood movie of the 1960s.

    In the plot we could throw in a pining Raj Kumar (complete with goblet and mujra scene) and a sacrificing Ashok Kumar. Somewhere the good-hearted Manmohan Krishna could be your chachaji and we could have a CSP with Johnny Walker (maybe with your saheli or sister Bela Bose).

    The movie would be full of songs and dances – you would expect nothing less from a movie with Helen, Bela Bose and Laxmi Chhaya. Not to mention Shammi.

    Not to be outdone by all these luminaries, maybe you could throw in a 1960s “twist” sequence yourself. :-)

    If you can get me a small role in this movie – with Hema as my co-star (please make sure Dharam is nowhere close) – I would be verrry happy. I could even be the guy in the cage, painted in black, if it is Hema singing “aa jaane jaa” to me. :-)

    How would you name the movie ?

    • Oh, I have fodder now from the comments for many more family panoramas if not an actual movie! LOVE the pining Raaj Kumar with his goblet and a dancing girl (maybe Jeevan Kala or Padma Khanna)…You and Hema must live nearby; Dharmendra is very busy watching over ME so he shouldn’t be a problem for you :)

  23. On a sad note, bad boy Sujit Kumar passed away a couple of weeks back.

  24. Back here after such a long time. This is so sweet! Such an adorable family. Please post more of such family stuff. May be once ur Mataji and Pitaji are back from Tirth yatra, you cud celebrate their 75th wedding anniversary party with all elderly aunts, creepy pedophile uncles, idiot cousins etc. and lots of balloons and songs of course! This could be followed by a birthday party or a picnic that would introduce the rest of the missing kins.
    You know what, I had somehow expected Dara Singh to be your bodyguard.
    But dharamji fits in well too. How about having Rajesh Khanna as your Bawarchi? And maybe Ashok Kumar could be Pitaji….and please have one of the chachajis or mamajis evil (Ajit?). Otherwise the bad boys Ranjeet, Prem Chopra will have to keep waiting for Shammi to turn his back to wink at u all the time ;-)
    Love the new banner!

  25. oh memsaab you’re quite adorable :)

  26. I often check your blog to find the name wonderful movies that either missed or don’t know about. But I must say your “family” post card crosses that line between being a fan and living in bizarro world. And that for an all American girl. I think you have a serious fetish issue with Indian Bollywood actors. I don’t know if living in a world only seen through the prism of candy coded kitsch cinema speaks very well of your mental state. India,the actual country is nothing like the world of Bollywood. It’s a depressing nation filled with misery and poverty. Unbelievably dirty and overpopulated. I always felt unsafe and every situation seemed like a mob what gather. People rude and frankly mostly just dirty. The entire country was just filthy with well, human waste every where you looked. I didn’t come across a single person that even remotely resembled a Bollywood star. The only exception was the state of Kashmir which had tremendous beauty and graceful people.
    I see this misconception about India as being some kind of a new economic super power and full of peaceful pretty people ready to start Bollywood dancing at a drop of hat is talking place in the West. Once you actually visit the real India ,not the Karan Johar version, you will discover a totally backwards country.

    • Maybe that says more about you than it does about India. I have been to India several times, thank you very much, and am well aware of its issues with poverty and corruption and indifference, among other things. However, I have also experienced that most (not all, but most) people are warm and welcoming and I have seen unbelievably beautiful places and shared some wonderful experiences. In general, you get back what you give out.

      It seems from this post that you are judgmental and incredibly closed-minded, and that YOU are the one who had expectations which couldn’t possibly be met. Probably you shouldn’t go back there, it isn’t for everyone, even all Indians. A sense of humor is absolutely necessary.

  27. Well since I am half Kashmiri I think your advise on me not going back there sounds like the rest of your ideas about India ,half backed. I don’t think my main objective was to comment on the state India is in but more on the state of your mind and ideas about India. You seem to live in weird world of fantasy created by outrageously unrealistic candy colored Bollywood movies. And to creat a delusional postcard where Indian film Stars are your servants in some bizarro world that even Karan Johar will not pu in his movies, speaks of a mental state that is not quit healthy. Your fetish of these old Bollywood stars and the very sexual but little girl lost way you talk about them is sometimes charming but once I a while just creepy and delusional. Your entire blog smacks of a very colonial white girl’s fantasy about the darkies. But hey to each his own. After all you have hundreds of minions, sorry followers who eat up everything you say never disagree! I think there is a song of Manoj Kumar that says Indians have freed themselves from the shackle of colonialists but in their minds they are still slaves. Oh, you don’t like Manoj Kumar. Well, you get my meaning,your minions kind of fit that category.
    As far as my portrayal of India and its people as mostly backwards and rude,I stand by it . I have been to India much more often than you and lived there for quit a while as child. Like I said I am half Indian. I love India but I think anyone who thinks of India in terms of Bollywood movie,which I also love is well,delusional. Try take criticism a little more personal memsaab, after all you get back what you put in it.

    • Excuse me, I’m interested to learn how “filmi FAMILY portrait” equals “a delusional postcard where Indian film Stars are your servants in some bizarro world”?

      Also, Greta has a “colonial white girl’s fantasy about the darkies” and fetishizes old Bollywood in a “very sexual but little girl lost way” which you find “sometimes charming”? WTF?! That’s what you find charming? Except “once I a while” you find it “creepy and delusional”? You know what normal people do with blogs they find creepy and delusional? THEY DON’T READ IT.

      And if we’re calculating love for India on the basis of bloodlines, as a full blown (backwards, rude, ugly, swimming in human waste) Indian, my love for India surpasses your own and as such I’d like to say – if there’s someone on this thread with mental health issues, that person is not Greta.

      Kindly DIAF. Best regards.

      • This person clearly has real problems that have nothing to do with me or the blog or India…and is frankly quite creepy to me. As others have said to me about this: it is not worthy of a response, although I do *love* having you as my 100% Indian Minion (which made me LOL when I saw it) :D

        • My dear Memsaab:

          A loss of words is not what I am normally accused of ;-) but it happens. Why do you allow lowlife like this to pollute these hallowed portals? Please BLOCK forthwith!


          ‘Darkie’ Minion Number 2

      • @100% Indian Minion – I am your FAN if only for that ‘Kindly DIAF’ :-D Who amongst the oldies here art thou?

  28. Don’t forget the mysterious KN Singh who wears a Fedora (a la Bogie ) and who stays in the house on the corner. The one who stared stonily when you greeted him.

    Also we can have some of the Hollywood crew who live a block away. Ronald Colman, Gable, Leigh, Hepburn and others.

    What fun!

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