Mamma

Mamma.

If you have loved your mother and have lost her to the heavens above, then you know that there is never a day in your life, that you don’t miss her. And then there are days like today, when only her memories crowd your mind, giving little else, any space at all.

My Ma, would have been 73 today. She isn’t here, but her love is and her blessings too.

It is because of her, that from age 6 or 7, I knew things like whose real name was Yusuf Bhai or that Kishore Kumar was not always a comedy actor and that Guru Dutt made movies that were not run of the mill types. I also knew about Lara and her ‘Dr Zhivago’ (Omar Sharif) and could recognize Lara’s theme, whenever and wherever it was played. I remember seeing Billy Wilder’s “Fedora” over and over again at the Akashwani Theater at Churchgate, simply because she did not grasp the movie and its finer nuances at one go! I learnt that Dev Anand was the Indian Gregory Peck, because I had seen ‘Mackenna’s Gold’ and ‘Roman Holiday’ much before I saw ‘Jewel Thief’ or maybe even ‘Kala Paani’.

My Pappa was a super intelligent guy – he would ‘think’ in English – he was super well read and I believe there must have been something about my Mamma – that must have connected them – but I am quite sure it was not English!

And yet, he would take her for English movies at theatres like Eros, New Excelsior and at Regal – and she would sit quietly besides him. He would very often then narrate the story to her, but when back at home! To probably have an intelligent discussion with him later, her modus operandi always was to watch the movie again. I was very often by her side when she did that.

So don’t blame me, if I got into the habit or watching movies again and again – loving it and never tiring of the process!

But let me tell you this didn’t happen only for English movies! I remember when a couple of my uncles, I think it was Bharat Mama and Pramod Mama – all living in different parts of Maharashtra then – they had some point of disagreement on Amol Palekar’s ‘Rajanigandha’ – to solve that doubt in her mind and just so she could argue her case – I believe my mother watched the movie continuously for a week or ten days, at Maratha Mandir or was it Roxy? I forget.

When we watched ‘Pukar’ at Akashwaani Theatre, she categorically told me that Naseem Banu’s daughter was not as pretty as her, and then my mother made sure, that I watched ‘Padosan’ and then agreed with her! Whether English or Hindi I was always her companion – because I was the youngest of the three and probably me missing school was not a concern at all!

Once when we were at The Taj Mahal Hotel for a family dinner, she was stopped by a couple of ladies who asked her for an autograph! My mother was stunned – and spent the rest of the evening in a daze! The ladies had mistaken her for Suchitra Sen! I still remember her blushing for weeks afterwards as my father took every opportunity to relate this incident to friends and family! I still remember her Taj look – she was dressed in a lovely pink-and-black chiffon saree, which had cut work and embroidery done from the famous M.Hari Sarees, Crawford Market. She wore a simple set of rice pearls – and to me looked like a fairy!

Well fairy was one thing, but Suchitra Sen was another! So began my education to Dilip Kumar’s  ‘Devdas’ and Sanjeev Kumar’s ‘Aandhi’. I also, in between, got to learn about ‘Parichay’, and ‘Sound of Music’ and then because I was a little bit older we moved to war movies like ‘Guns of Navarone’ and ‘The Great Escape’.   

With her, I have had my share of Marathi cinema too – like ‘Shinvhasan’ and ‘Pinjara’ but it was more theatre than films – as far as Marathi was concerned. But if a play like ‘Tee Phularani’ was made into a film then I got to watch both, ‘My Fair Lady’ as well as ‘Man Pasand’

There are too many movies and too many incidents to pen today. I seriously don’t know if the movies were her illusion or her reality – but whatever it was I hope that I do some justice to the madness that I seem to have inherited from her! One day I am hoping, I will up there on some stage and saying, “This is for you Mamma.”