Sunday, 14 September 2014

Memories & Memorabilia (Part 2) - Glimpses into the past

My father before becoming a film actor.
It is amazing the amount of things we accumulate and cling to (they are sweet memories after all) during the course of our lives. It is a different matter that as we get on with our daily lives, we forget where they have been kept, that is what happened with us. My brother and I have decided to reduce the clutter and there is also a realization that it is time to let go of the past. We were, therefore, going through all that we had held on to for so many years and were happy to find some real interesting stuff related to our father. Today is my father’s 86th birth anniversary and I feel today is right day to share all that I have unearthed.

Way back in the past people had very few photographs of themselves, it was no different for my father, we have very few of his childhood photos. I posted three of them in Unlocking Memories and here is another one.

My father as a little boy
 I had hesitated to use to it then because it is in a very bad shape, but now I thought, bad shape or not, what’s the harm in using it? Although the photograph has obviously faced the ravages of time, I am able to still see the sharpness of his eyes, something which helped in his portrayal of the myriad characters he played in his career.

These photos were taken soon after he appeared for his B.A.exams. It is pretty obvious that my father was in love with the camera even then, he appears to be very much at ease. He had lots of hair on his head then, unfortunately it later started falling at an alarming rate.

Whenever we visited Nagpur, we used to rush to my parents room upstairs and rummage through all my father's childhood stuff, his school and college books were of particular interest to us.

 Over the years we have given away most of these books but his French text book (above) remained with us, my brother found the book interesting so he kept it.

Above is the book's fly leaf  and you can see my father’s name Tarun Chandra Bose, yes my father’s actual name was Tarun Chandra Bose. Chandra was a  middle name of the male members of the family for generations, when my father became an actor he decided to shorten his name by dropping the Chandra, consequently my brother too does not have Chandra as his middle name.

In the picture above you see some notes that my father made in his French text book. While on the subject of my father’s tryst with the French language, I am reminded of a funny incident. I have mentioned in the past that my father acted in an episode of an American T.V. serial produced by MGM called Maya, the serial was extensively shot on location in Kashmir. We had joined my father for a brief period in Kashmir. The unit was put up in luxurious houseboats on Dal Lake. There was a manager in one of these houseboats who one evening came to my father all flustered followed by a white couple. He complained to my father that he could not understand a word of what this couple was saying, “in logonko na English aati hai na Hindi aati hai, mujhe kuch samajh mein nahin aa raha hai” (They can neither speak Hindi nor English, I am not able to understand a word of what they are saying). My father soon realized that they were French, my father dug deep into his memory of his school life and spoke a few words in French. They were very happy and began talking to my father in French, my father of course did not understand a word of what they were saying, not knowing what to do, he pointed to my brother saying, “My son is learning French, talk to him.” He was hoping my brother would understand something at least, but my brother had just begun to learn French in school and he was as clueless as the rest of us, it was quite a hilarious situation. I do not remember what happened to the couple and whether they finally got the information they  were looking for or not.

Coming back to my father, I have mentioned in my post Unlocking Memories that Bimal Roy invited my father to act in his films after seeing my father perform in a play called “Aur Yeh Insaan” which was a Hindi adaptation of an English play. I had also mentioned that the play was being staged to raise funds for the St Francis de Sales' (SFS) College building fund, while going through all the stuff I managed to find the souvenir (see below) that was brought out for the occasion.

Here are pictures of some of the ads in the souvenir, back then Nagpur was the capital of the Central

Provinces and you can see Central Provinces mentioned in the ad. on the left.

 The advertisements those days were so simple looking, weren’t they? Below are some more pages from the souvenir.

In the above you see on the right the letter written by Bimal Roy confirming that he will attend the function. He also goes on to express his happiness at being associated with the function.

On left is the program for the evening and at right the synopsis of the play.

On the left messages from Balraj Sahani annd Nutan and on the right the cast of the play, my father's name is second last on the list.

In my last post I had published a letter written by my father to Bimal  Roy,  I had mistakenly  stated that the letter was written in reply to the the telegram and letter that was sent to him by Bimal Roy Productions (BRP), asking him to report for work. Actually my father had replied to this letter (see below) that  was sent by

Bimal Roy to my father. If you notice this letter was dated 8th January 1956, there is  an obvious typing error here, the date should have been 8th January 1957. The play was staged in October 1956, so he couldn't have written to my father before seeing the play, besides my father's reply (which I am re-posting again below) is dated 11th January 1957.

Interestingly Bimal Roy's letter was dated 8th January, the next letter from BRP was dated 8th June 1957 and Bimal Roy passed away on 8th January 1966. My father used to always talk about this coincidence blissfully ignorant of the fact that he himself would leave this world on the 8th, he passed away six years later on 8th March 1972. I am not into numerology, nor am I superstitious but I cannot help but be amazed at the way the number 8 keeps popping up, for instance we found another letter, it was lying crumpled up. On opening it we found that this was also from BRP asking my father to report to the studio at 6pm  and the date of the letter? What else 8th June 1962 (see below).

Soon after receiving the letter from Bimal Roy in January, he came to Bombay for the screen test and it was on this floor at Mohan Studio  (see below) that he gave his screen test.

The screen cap is from the film Guddi, the studio had burnt down during my father's lifetime. While watching this scene (I have tube chopped this scene from Guddi) my brother recalls my father telling him that it was right here where he had his screen test. In this particular scene Dharmendra says that in all likelihood a soap factory might come up here, well in reality a soap factory did not come up on the Mohan Studio premises but a housing complex has come up there.

I will continue my memories in my next post. If you wish to read any of the letters or anything on the souvenir, right click on the image, click on view image and magnify it.


  1. It was a hoot to see the brochure (and the old ads) and very interesting to see Bimal Roy's letters and your father's reply as well

  2. p.s. Please, when you are downsizing, do not get rid of your father's memorabilia. We lose so much of our cinematic history, it would be a shame to lose these - the brochures, handbills, handwritten letters... Can you think of anyone who might want to archive them? I'm sure Bimal Roy's handwritten letter, for instance, would be something that cinephiles would die to get their hands on. If only we could archive them properly!

    1. I know you may not be too happy to know this but we have already downsized quite a bit, there are some still with us, let's see what we can do.

    2. Put them all into a box and give them to me! I will be more than happy to hold on to it until we can find a home for them that they deserve!

    3. Thanks Anu, we have downsized quite a bit, but I will see what we have left with us, we have all the stills and a few silver jubilee trophies with us. We got rid of some trophies they were real eyesores. I might just take you up on your offer.

    4. Please! Would be more than happy to. I'm coming down in November. Email me if you wish.

    5. OK, I will be going out of Bombay in November, but if I am in Bombay at the time you are here, we can definitely meet.

  3. Ah, so this was what you meant when you spoke about the number 8 cropping up again and again. Yes, that is quite a coincidence.

    I really enjoyed this post, Shilpi - and you have such a treasure trove. As Anu says, please don't get rid of any more of it! Look at me - my parents wanted to get rid of their LPs and EPs, and I told them to give them all to me! I don't know what I'll do with them, but until I figure that out, I'm keeping them safe and sound instead of selling them off to the kabaari as my parents were going to do.

    1. Actually number 8 crops more often but more about that later. We too got rid off most of our records but few are still remaining, one of them is Talat Mehmood's L.P., it was a gifted by him to my mother, it therefore has his autograph. Let me know whether you are interested, I would love to gift it to you. I will keep it till we meet.