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Tilak Rishi, born in India, has been working as a career corporate executive, after doing his MBA. Passionately pursuing his hobby for writing, he also remained a regular contributor to newspapers in India and the U.S. Many true happenings and characters he came across in life, including interaction with former president Bill Clinton, inspired Paradise Lost and Found, his first novel. A family saga, it starts from Kashmir, when this paradise on earth is lost for the tourists who thronged in thousands every year to enjoy its scenic splendor. Terrorists have turned it into one of the most dangerous places in the world. The family is not only a witness to the loss of this paradise, but also to another tragedy of much bigger magnitude. In the aftermath of the partition of India, along with millions uprooted from their homes in Pakistan, the family leaves behind all that it has in Lahore. Starting from a scratch on the difficult path to progress, it still has many joyful moments when along the way it makes a difference in many a life. The survival-to-success story climaxes in California where the family finds the paradise that was lost in Kashmir.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

My Sister's Marriage To A Movie Star

My mother was a big movie buff. Going to movies every Wednesday was a must, when it was a “Ladies Only” matinee in every theater at half the normal rates. All her friends had open invitation to accompany her to watch the latest movie, where she would not only buy their tickets but also treat them to sodas and snacks, which the hawkers sold inside the hall during interval. She enjoyed all movies, musicals and mythologicals, slapstick comedies and tear-jirker tragedies, without exceptions. She had a few favorite stars, whose movies she would never want to miss. She had even become a big fan of one particular star after seeing his super hit mythological. She must have seen that movie several times, taking a different friend on each repeat watching. She could never have imagined then, even in her wildest imagination, that with a twist of fate, that very star would one day become her son-in-law.

No one who knew my sister, Satya, a very shy and traditional type, who hated going to movies, not even to the “Ladies Only” shows with my mother, would believe that she was getting married to a movie star. The news of their engagement took the film industry, more so the movie media, by surprise, not so much for the news that one of the most eligible bachelors of the Bombay film world was getting married, as for the fact that his bride to be was not from the glamor world but a college girl absolutely unconnected to the film world and living far away in Lahore. Not even the smartest of film correspondents could find the link between the college girl from Lahore and the big star from Bombay. The only film critic, who knew the full story, preferred not to publish in his magazine. It was none other but my own brother, Raghu, editor of a leading film magazine of Lahore.

Raghu, knowing well that mother was a big fan of the star, in order to please her, started giving great publicity to him in every issue of his monthly magazine. No issue was complete without covering all the news about the star, an article or a story on him that enhanced his image. Of course, it made our mother very happy, but more than that it made the star much pleased and impressed with Raghu's write-ups on him in every issue. The star showed his appreciation by writing a very sweet letter of thanks to Raghu and invited him to Bombay to give an exclusive interview for his magazine and to spend a week's holiday as his guest. Raghu immediately responded by accepting the invitation. The week that Raghu spent with the star turned out to be the turning point in my sister's life. In the course of his exclusive interview, the star confided to him that although he admired many of his co-stars, as far as marriage was concerned, he had made up his mind to marry a woman who must be from outside of the glamor world of films, and who as an outright traditional housewife, should be totally able to devote herself to their home and the children, when the time came. “But the problem is, where to look for such a woman, as most parents are skeptical of giving away their daughter to a movie star.” The star said it in a way as if he wanted to know if Raghu had someone in mind who matched his requirement. Raghu knew that all the qualities that the star wanted in his wife were very much there in Satya. She was highly accomplished, doing her master's in psychology, and yet very traditional. But he was hesitant to suggest about her without first talking in the family, especially to Satya. However, during the conversation he did mention about our family, including Satya and especially our mother, who he said was the star's biggest fan in the family. “Is that so, then I would like to meet your mother when I come to Lahore next month on the opening of my new movie.”

True to his word, the star did manage to spare time from his very tight schedule in Lahore to come to our home for lunch and meet his big fan, mother. There he also met Satya whom he liked so much that he later told Raghu that she was exactly the type of girl he wanted to marry and requested Raghu if he could arrange one to one meeting with her to enable him to know her mind on the prospect of marrying a movie star. Raghu had already talked about the star's search for a suitable match for marriage and what he was looking for in the bride to be, on his return from Bombay. It, therefore, did not come as a big surprise for the family to know that the star liked Satya and wanted to meet her again. The star's invitation to Satya for dinner with him at his hotel was heartily accepted. During their very first private meeting at dinner, the star proposed and Satya said “Yes”. Next evening they were engaged at a very exclusive ceremony, attended by his father, who flew from Bombay, our family and close family friends, and members of the film unit who had come with him for the premier and were staying in the same hotel where the ceremony took place. The media and the movie circle of Lahore were taken by surprise when the star arrived at the premier party with Satya, and introduced her as his fiancee. It was the star's first movie that Satya watched.

My sister's marriage in March, after she sat for her finals for master's degree, was a grand event remembered as the most glamorous and glittering wedding seen in Lahore. Never before so many celebrities from the film world landed on the streets of the city to be part of the wedding procession of their very successful co-star, whose latest movie was a super hit and still drawing crowds after celebrating silver jubilee. When the wedding procession, led by city's top band group playing hit tunes from the star's latest musical, passed through Anarkali, the grand bazar of Lahore, the shopkeepers showered flowers on the procession, and paid big tips to the band party so that they played longer in front of their shops. By the time the procession arrived at the venue of the wedding reception, a large public park in front of our home, which looked like a fairyland because of the decorations and illuminations, it was past midnight. In spite of the late hour, a very large number of movie fans were still waiting to have a closer look at their favorite stars. Since most of them were students from the nearby college where my sister was also a student till recently, they did not go overboard to show their enthusiasm and let the event pass peacefully. The grand finale to the wedding celebrations came the following evening with a reception by the famous journalist turned producer-director, B. R. Chopra at Lahore's most lavish hotel, the Flattis, where the elite of the city mingled with celebrities from the film world. Indeed, it was the happiest moment for my mother, her most favorite filmstar, Surendra, the singing idol of millions and super star of hit musicals of the 30s and 40s, had become her son-in-law.


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