02 December, 2020

Begum Para

After two years as Pakistani citizen, she realised she was differently acculturised.

Abhijit Bhatlekar
Begum Para

My parents were in Dalhousie when the 1947 riots broke out. Dr Fakeerchand, a friend, insisted they shift to his house. Subsequently, my brother, an officer in the Ahmednagar Armoured Corps, smuggled them under escort to Lahore. And where was I all this while? Safe in riot-free Bombay. Driving a green Hudson with fellow actresses Protima Dasgupta and Sushila Rani in it, lustily singing Vande Mataram on the streets of Bombay on the night of August 14. I remember serenading film publisher Baburao Patel with this in Umar Park at midnight. It was a good life.

And yet I had to leave. Migrate to Pakistan in 1975. Nasir, my husband, an actor and film director, died suddenly at 49 in 1974. I was 47, a mother of three kids and devastated. Emotionally vulnerable. The entire family, barring my sister Zarina who lives in Dehradun, lived there. They insisted I shift. So I adopted Pakistani nationality, moved to Lahore. It was emotionally very stabilising for me to be with family but I could never adjust to that country Muslims there are acculturised very different from Muslims...



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