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Venus of Indian screen

M.L. Dhawan in “Mark of Madhubala” (Spectrum, April 6) has vividly brought out facets of Madhubala’s talent, beauty and sensuality. She had a chiselled face with large eyes that conveyed all emotions. Even when fully draped, she could look very seductive.

Madhubala displayed mischief, innocence, stubbornness and comic emotions effortlessly in Guru Dutt’s Mr & Mrs 55. She was paired with Bharat Bhushan in Barsaat Ki Raat (1960) which had memorable songs including many qawwalis. That evocative scene of a wet Madhubala squeezing her dupatta in the rain song, Zindagi bhar nahi bhulegi woh barsaat ki raat was to become the most favoured pin-up of the actress.

She also acted with Prem Nath in Baadal (1951), with Bharat Bhushan in Gateway of India (1958) and Ashok Kumar in Ek Saal (1959) which had her singing the soulful Sub kuchh luta ke hosh main aaye to kya kiya. Her performance with Dev Anand in Kaala Paani (1958) and the song Achha ji mein haari, chalo maan jao naa was also memorable. Insaan Jaag Utha with Sunil Dutt and, later on, Sharaabi (1963) with Dev Anand and Jhumroo with Kishore Kumar (1964) were her last movies.

H.S. SANDHU, Panchkula



Dilip and Madhubala were almost ready to tie the nuptial knot when Madhubala’s father got a criminal case registered against Dilip accusing him of conspiring with B.R. Chopra to get Madhubala replaced with Vyjayanthimala. The case was dismissed as Chopra told the court that Vyjayanthimala was his first choice for the film. Madhubala tried to sort out the matter with Dilip but in vain.

A disheartened Madhubala became so depressed that this incident aggravated her suffering, leading to her demise. There was a song in Mughal-e-Azam that went befittingly with the situation:

Uthe janaza jo kal hamara, kasam khuda ki na dena kandha. As if these lines were prophetic, Dilip Kumar was not able to attend the funeral of Madhubala as he was out of India on that day. However, he visited her grave when he came back. From her grave Madhubala must have said:

Teri aarzoo ne hamein maar dala, jiye to magar zindagani pe roye.


A leader of unimpeachable integrity

Iread Chaman Lal’s article, “Ambassador of humanity” (Spectrum, April 13). Baba Saheb Ambedkar was perhaps the tallest leader of 20th century in India. A socialist to the core, he carried out the crusade against casteism for social justice.

Owing to his academic brilliance and clear vision, he chaired the Drafting Committee of the Constitution. Being a man of impeccable integrity, he resigned from Jawaharlal Nehru’s Cabinet in 1951. A very important event took place during 1936 in Babaji’s life. He wanted to discard Hinduism and embrace Buddhism along with eight crore followers.

In the meantime, Sir Aga Khan and the Nawab of Hyderabad tried to influence him to join Islam with their enormous money power, but Madan Mohan Malviya and Dr Moonje persuaded him to embrace Sikhism. During his meeting with Master Tara Singh at Amritsar, in 1936, he was ready to do so.

As per Baba Saheb’s wishes, land was purchased at Bombay and the construction of a college building in his name was started. A press for the publication of Babaji’s paper Janata was also bought. Money was also arranged for his foreign tour.

When things were about to materialise, Gandhiji called Baba Saheb and dissuaded him from joining Sikhism. He promised Baba Saheb that henceforth all benefits available to the Scheduled Castes will be given to them also provided they remain in the Hindu fold. Baba Saheb, thereafter, left the idea of joining Sikhism and preferred to remain in the Hindu fold.



Aroma of coffee

The feature, “Adding aroma to life” by The Tribune correspondents, (Saturday Extra, April 12) was timely. In the 16th century, a coffee house was started in Grand Cairo (Egypt). Later, coffee houses sprang up in England, France, Italy and the US. Earlier, coffee houses were flourishing along trade and pilgrim routes in Arabia, Syria and Turkey.

In England, coffee houses were called Penny Universities. They were so popular that they remained mostly crowded and distinguished and regular patrons had to wait for a long time for waiters to serve them.

To ensure quick service, wooden boxes were placed at strategic points with the words “To insure promptness” written on them. (From these words originated the acronym ‘tip’). Customers who desired prompt service dropped pennies into these boxes.

Filter coffee, popular in Indian coffee houses, originated in Arabia. Indian coffee houses also serve as social equalisers.



I have been a resident of Shimla since 1936. Shimla’s Indian Coffee House was opened in 1942, not in 1962. It was located in the upper flat of the present Embassy restaurant. There was a carrom board, playing cards and newspapers for the customers.

A plate of salted peanuts was served with each cup of coffee. In 1943-44, it moved to the new premises on The Mall in the hall below the Congress Office. It was patronised by politicians, bureaucrats, the elite and the tourists. In 1960-61 the Indian Coffee Board opted out of its management. It was run by a Shimla businessman, Kamal Sharma, with the help of workers for a year or two.

The Coffee House is the most popular place in Shimla where people of all hues meet and have coffee. The quality of dosa, vada, and idli has deteriorated as compared to the same stuff prepared by Triputi and Baljees restaurants. The price of a cup of coffee in 1944 was 25 paise, now it is 1000 paise or Rs 10 — an increase of 400 per cent!




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