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Cinema Museum

India’s first film museum, set to open soon, has a disputed history

Gulshan Mahal, where the National Museum of Indian Cinema will open soon, was once alive with the sounds of mehfils and qawwalis, before the Indian government confiscated it as evacuee property after Partition.

In the 1920s and ’30s, a sprawling Victorian-Gothic bungalow named Gulshan Mahal on Mumbai's Peddar Road would draw the cream of society to its musical soirées and cultural gatherings. It was home to India’s first female documentary filmmaker, who would later be turned out of it as a Partition evacuee and see her bungalow confiscated by the Indian government. Eighty years later, this bungalow in the Films Division campus on Peddar Road is set to open its doors to culture once again, as the National Museum of Indian Cinema.

This is the first museum dedicated to films in India. Through movie clips, photographs, film equipment and other film memorabilia, it will take visitors through the history of cinema from across the country. But the history of Gulshan Mahal – both before and after Partition – is itself an intriguing tale.

The bungalow, formerly named Gulshan Abad (garden of prosperity), was built in the mid-1800s and first owned by Peerbhoy Khalakdina, a Gujarati businessman from the Khoja Muslim community. The house, where he lived with his wife and son, Jairazbhoy Peerbhoy, was nestled in the midst of a wooded five-acre property between posh Peddar Road and Warden Road, overlooking the Arabian Sea.

The Khalakdinas were among the many Khoja families who moved to the city from Kutch at the request of the Aga Khan, their religious head. Besides trading, Peerbhoy was also a philanthropist and educationist who had set up many schools in Kutch, and he continued to do so in the city.

Over the years, Peerbhoy’s large estate passed down to his younger grandson, Cassim Ali Jairazbhoy. When Cassim Ali married Burma-born Khurshid Rajabally in the early 1900s, Gulshan Mahal acquired a new character. “For one, Amma [Khurshid] changed the entrance of the house from Warden Road to Peddar Road, so that people could get a view of the Arabian Sea when they entered,” said Amy Catlin-Jairazbhoy, a musicologist and wife of Khurshid and Cassim Ali’s son, the late Nazir Ali Jairazbhoy.

Khurshid also brought music into the house. She had a sitar guru, Madhav Lal from Mathura, who lived on the estate and also taught Nazir Ali, who went on to become a well-respected musicologist and a documentary filmmaker. Khurshid’s brother, Yakub Rajabally, was a well-known qawwali artiste who would perform around the city and at Gulshan Mahal. “In those days, my mother-in-law hosted a lot of mehfils and qawwalis at the bungalow,” said Catlin-Jairazbhoy.

(A 1930s photo of the Jairazbhoy family outside Gulshan Mahal, courtesy Amy Catlin-Jairazbhoy. Khurshid sits in a white sari on the right.)

In 1932, as a pilgrim in Mecca, Khurshid began filming scenes from the Haj pilgrimage and made a documentary film – the first Indian woman to do so. “Cassim Ali had written many books on Islam and used the film to teach people about the religion during educational tours around Europe,” said Catlin-Jairazbhoy.

Through the 1930s, the family also rented one of the houses on their estate to Devika Rani, the legendary actress who starred in films like Achyut Kanya (1936) and co-founded Bombay Talkies with her first husband, actor-producer Himanshu Rai. That house is now the Films Division’s children’s films building.

In 1950, more than a decade after Cassim Ali’s death, everything changed for the Jairazbhoy family. Around three years after Partition, when Khurshid was on a visit to the new nation of Pakistan and all her sons were studying or working abroad, the Indian government confiscated Gulshan Mahal and its surrounding properties, declaring it as evacuee property.

“Amma rushed back to Bombay but she had been declared an evacuee, and she had to sell all her belongings and return to Pakistan,” said Catlin-Jairazbhoy. After Partition, Khurshid could only visit India on a restricted visa till she died in 1989, while the rest of the family scattered in different parts of the country and abroad.

Gulshan Mahal, meanwhile, was put to different uses by the government: for a while, it served as a hospital for soldiers; later, it was a temporary campus for Jai Hind College; briefly, it also held the offices of the Documentary Films of India and the Films Division. When the Films Division moved to a new building on the estate in 1976, Gulshan Mahal remained largely closed, and was rented out for film shoots on occasion. Munnabhai MBBS was among the films shot there.

“Now this wonderful heritage bungalow will house India’s first cinema museum, where people can recall and re-enact the history of films the country,” said Amrit Gangar, curator of the museum. Gangar emphasises that the museum has a scope wider than just Bollywood. “This museum will have a national character, focusing on regional cinema and the role films played in the freedom movement,” he said.

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As corporate India changes from strait-jacketed to stylish, here’s how you can stay on-trend

For men and women, tips to make your office style game strong.

Office wear in India tends to be conservative. For men, the staple blue or white shirt and dark trouser arranged in a monotonous assembly line has been a permanent feature of the wardrobe (a tactic shrewdly administered to ensure minimum time is spent shopping). For women, androgynous work wear has been ever reliable and just as dull.

But camouflage is of no use in the corporate jungle anymore. The Indian office is no longer a place for dull, unthinking conformity, it is a place that expects vibrancy in thought and action. With a younger workforce and a greater mix of multinationals and jobs, there is a greater acceptance of edgier trends. Men are stepping away from their blues and greys and women are reshaping their workwear to be more interesting and distinctly feminine. As corporate India is proving its mettle on the global stage and to itself, it’s also growing confident in expressing individuality and style in the formal work environment. From clothing to office décor and fashion accessories to work tools, the workplace is becoming a place to display merit as well as taste.

Work clothes have shed their monochrome and moved into the light of technicolor. Bright colours have steadily become popular as Pantone’s annual colours of the year show us. For the corporate warrior who wants to be stylish here is our pick of trends worth considering.


Statement jacket. A statement jacket is one that doesn’t merely stand out in a crowd, but blows it open for you. How do you recognize one? You’ll know it when you see it. Most statement jackets have a non-traditional color. They could also have subtle prints on them if you want to go funky.

Technicolor socks. Multicolored socks (or hipster socks as they are known in some quarters) peek out every once in a while and brighten things up in the workplace. From polka dots and caricatures to geometric patterns, you can choose a pair to suit your mood or your workplace. A great way of telling people you don’t take fashion rules seriously (except these ones).

Plaid: Well played is well, plaid. Great for your 9-to-5 and even performs well after. Plaids, in shirts and jackets, are perhaps the most versatile tool in the corporate warrior’s armory, and straddle the fine line between formal and casual effectively. They’re also age-resistant meaning a young buck in his twenties can rock them as much as your seasoned forty-plus campaigner. Plaid, though Scottish in origin, has an Indian connection too, in the Madras checks that became popular all over the world after the World War.

Inside collars and cuffs. If you like to keep it classy but still a little edgy, nothing does it like contrast or printed insides of your collar and cuffs. After the work day, when it’s proper to roll up your sleeves, it even adds a touch of evening character.

Coloured Shoes. Alternate your staid blacks and browns with variants like burgundy, light buttery browns and ashen blues. Play with moccasins, tassel loafers and lace-ups. Go beyond leather and try suede and maybe even canvas. But do remember to take a quick course in matching.


Floral prints. Flowers are back (though one could argue that they never went out) and now they’re storming the bastion of your office. Even the traditional Indian paisley is making its way into formal wear. With the prevalence of digital printing, with a little hunting, you’ll even find beautiful florals in watercolour style.

Scarves. The first rule of wearing scarves is to rid yourself of the notion that they are to be worn only in winter. A colourful scarf paired with a monochrome top works wonders. A dozen online videos will teach you to wear it in a dozen ways. Plus, it always comes in handy when the thermostat isn’t to your liking. Kiran Mazumdar Shaw wears scarves frequently, and is a great example of how you can use it strikingly.

Pants. Yes. Pants. Experiment with different styles and you’ll be surprised how they can really spruce up a boring look. Silhouette is everything when it comes to pants. Choose from high-waisted, wide legged, pleated to ankle length pants and what not! The best part is offices rarely prescribe silhouettes, so you can always get by with some style even if your workplace demands a uniform.

Houndstooth. The houndstooth pattern is at the sweet intersection between casual and formal and can be worn to make a splash in either occasion. Whether its jackets or a dress or a simple top, a houndstooth pattern is incredibly versatile.

Chic suits. A sharp suit is a must for a modern professional’s wardrobe. And please don’t even look in the direction of black. Pastel colours or even greys with patterns are great options for suits. Uncoordinated suits are also a great option depending on how edgy you want your office attire to be.


It isn’t enough to be well-dressed in the modern workplace. A good professional is known by his or her tools and how they carry it.

Designer laptop sleeves. Your high-precision instrument deserves a cover chosen with as much care. Black Neoprene is out. Pastel monochromes, geometric patterns and bold designs are very much in. Different materials like cotton, leather and even paper are a great option.

Natural fiber or leather bags (yes kill your black synthetic one now). Briefcases are ancient and black messenger bags are done. Go for a color variant or a subtle pattern. Pay attention to the different leather finishes. Adding a few nicely done metal trims can make all the difference. But convenience and ease are top priority. If you travel a lot, get a stylish strolley and thank yourself later.

Commute pack. The urban corporate needs to be productive at all times, or at the very least, needs to be accessible. A modern commute pack should include wireless headphones, a USB battery pack (power bank) and a wire/gadget organisation pack just so that you’re always prepared.

Machine. We’ve all showed off our latest smartphones. Your work machine is way more important. And like in smartphones, a good laptop is no longer only about performance. The specifications must be top-notch but it has also become an expression of your personality. It can up your style quotient and significantly impact your experience.

Source: Dell
Source: Dell

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This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Dell and not by the Scroll editorial team.

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