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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.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Happy Navroz - The Parsi New Year

Dear Amitji,

“But most importantly tomorrow is the Parsi New Year .. and a happy new year to all the Parsi’s, some of them my first and oldest fans .. and of course Dr Udwadia from Breach Candy Hospital who saved my life in 1982 ..
The largest Industrial houses, the Corporates, sportsmen and women of distinction, the army ( the only Field Marshal that India had was Gen Manekshaw, a Parsi ) eminent doctors and contributors in all the walks of life .. respected and admired for their integrity and dedication ..” (DAY - 3060)

Sir, your above post takes me back to the early 1950s when I joined my first job with Godrej, after doing my B.A.(Hons.) and Law, and spent the first 20 years of my career in the most prestigious Parsi company after Tatas then. I remember celebrating Navroz, the Parsi New Year, with, undoubtedly, the most chilled out and fun people around for all the years I worked with them - talk to them, spend time and they will make your day better off.  That beautiful time continues till today, even after 40 years of my leaving the compa, thanks to our best friend Mani from those great Godrej days. We still enjoy talking of those days whenever we are together, most recently when she came to California to spend some quality-cum-fun time with us. We, also cherish the memories of her late husband, coincidentally my classmate from Lahore, a non-Parsi, to marry whom Mani broke all barriers in their community on marriage outside of their community. Inter community marriage is not tolerated in Parsi community and one marrying outside of the community is treated as outcaste and anti their religion. Not because they are an extremely orthodox community, on the contrary they are the most modern community in India, but because with their population decreasing by the day. they want to save their small community from extinction. That is why they try to remain a well knit community.

The Parsi community has always been immensely influential in Indian business. Starting as agriculturists clustered around the Surat-Navsari area of Gujarat, the Parsis metamorphosed into a business community as they moved to Bombay in the 19th century. Amongst them there's one Parsi family that has weathered the forces of time and carved a unique place in the annals of Indian business history. And that's the 107-year-old house of Godrej. While most Indian business houses have suffered splits, the house of Godrej has remained united over three generations. This may partly be because the group's two flagship companies, Godrej Soaps and Godrej Boyce, remained closely held through most of their history, whereas most other business houses took them public.

There is no way I would write about Parsis and not mention their Bollywood connection. Here are some of the popular Parsi names that made a name for themselves in Bollywood:

Sohrab Modi: Born in Bombay, Sohrab Modi was a stage actor of Parsee Stage. Theatre was his first love. In an attempt to take it to a wider public in the aftermath of talkie films, he set up Stage Film Company in 1935. Plays were filmed and shown- Khoon Ka Khoon (1935), an adaptation of Shakespear's Hamlet, marked Naseem Bano's entry into filmdom. He launched Minerva Movietone in 1936. His early films at Minerva dealt with contemporary social issues such as alcoholism in Meetha Zaher (1938) and the right of Hindu women to divorce in Talaq (1938). Though the films did well, what attracted Modi was the historic genre. Minerva Movietone was famous for the triology- Pukar (1939), Sikander (1941) and Prithvi Vallabh (1943).


Daisy Irani: One of the oldest Parsi stars, Daisy Irani was a popular Bollywood child artist in the 50s and 60s. She generally played the role of a little boy with curly hair, along with her younger sister Honey Irani. Some of her most remembered movies, include Jagte Raho, Naya Daur, Hum Panchi Ek Dal Ke and Musafir.

Farooq Sheikh: One of the finest actors in Bollywood, Late Farooq Sheikh was half-Parsi, born to Muslim father Mustafa Shaikh and Parsi Mother Farida. He is popularly known for his roles in Noorie, Chashme Buddoor, Umrao Jaan, Kissi Se Na Kehna, Biwi Ho To Aisi and Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani.

Boman Irani: Born into a Parsi family, Boman is a professional photographer and actor. He started with advertisements for Fanta and Krackjack biscuits and later featured in movies like Munnabhai M.B.B.S., Main Hoon Na, Lage Raho Munna Bhai, Dostana, 3 Idiots and many more.
Founder and CEO of UTV Group, Ronnie Screwvala has produced various hits. His filmography includes Rand De Basanti, Life In A… Metro, Chup Chup Ke, Jodhaa Akbar and many more.

Ronnie Screwvala: Founder and CEO of UTV Group, Ronnie Screwvala has produced various hits. His filmography includes Rand De Basanti, Life In A… Metro, Chup Chup Ke, Jodhaa Akbar and many more.

John Abraham: Born as Farhan Abraham to a Malayali Nasrani father and a Parsi mother, John Abraham is a popular model, actor, and now a producer. He made his film debut with Jism, followed by Dhoom and Water, to name a few. John has also produced critically acclaimed flicks like Vicky Donor and Madras Cafe.

To all our Parsi Ef Happy New Year!

With regards and best wishes
Tilak Rishi


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