Navroz Mubarak from Bollywood

Good morning, Mumbai — and Navroze Mubarak! The Irani New Year and first day of spring began at 11.02 and 13 seconds last night. But BT invited the ‘Bawajis of Bollywood’ (actually, two Parsis, two Iranis and one half-breed) for a pow-wow on Saturday morning itself to the Rustam Faramna Agiary standing serenely in dappled sunlight at the Khareghat crossroads of Dadar Parsi Colony (DPC).


parsi_bollywood At 9 am sharp, Shenaz Treasuryvala arrived in a strappy floral summer dress, like a fresh gust of perfumed air rustling the dead leaves on the road, eager to do her bit and then catch a flight to Goa. “I started the year stressfully, I need a break — I’m an escapist, but I may come back on Navroze to have dinner with my family,” she said, the pout in place. Perizaad Zorabian Irani followed, the classic Yummy Mummy in a backless halter-neck lime green dress and golden stilletoes, showing pictures on her cell of daughter Zaha who is 2.4 years and son Zayaan who is four months only. “Life is insane, so much nonsense is happening,” she grumbled.


Nauheed Cyrusi, model and star of the DPC — whose mother is Parsi and father Irani (“I have the best of both worlds,” she claimed), swished down the road in a pinkish-red saree and sleeveless blouse, waving to residents gaping from nearby balconies like she was taking the red carpet. A car pulled over and Shiamak Davar, ever the star, danced out in blue tracks and sunflower-yellow sports jacket. “My jaans,” he cried, arms flung out wide like he was on stage, offering the pyaar ki jhappi copyrighted by Sanjay Dutt in Munnabhai.

Talking of which, Boman (the delightful Prof J. C. Asthana of Munnabhai) in blue jeans and a trendy purple check shirt came last, walking jauntily down the road because he lives two buildings away, calling out “Sahebji” to old-timers taking the morning air. “I feel like Charlie and his Angels,” he grinned wickedly looking at the girls. Then he spotted Shiamak. “Everybody’s cracked in this line-up,” he muttered, “except me, I’m not, I don’t think I am.”

Bollywood has always had Parsis and Iranis making up its ranks, right from the time Ardeshir Irani set up the first Indian talkies in 1931, and with artistes playing blustery and comic characters of the Zoroastrian faith in Hindi films ever since. Now, of course, there are stars within the communities who are making their mark in cinema.

Boman, for instance, has two films coming out on Friday in Hum Tum Aur Ghost and Well Done Abba, both in which he plays title roles. These coming hard on the heels of his outstanding performance as Prof. Viru Sahastrabuddhe in Aamir Khan’s 3 Idiots. Shiamak, who has one foot in Canada and one in India, is Bollywood’s celeb choreographer. But he has no time for films now. His hands are full doing the Kingdom of Dreams musical in Delhi (“one show every day for a year”) and a workshop in Mumbai with international star dancers Tara Jean and Vincent, winners of Canada’s So You Think You Can Dance contest. “She’s cute, hot and lovely, sexy in the Britney way, you’ll die to see her,” he leered at Boman.

Of the three girls, Perizaad has had her share of Bollywood (remember Bollywood Calling, Ek Ajnabee, Morning Raga and Jogger’s Park?), but acting is still her passion, she’s longing to get back into shape (“look at me, after two babies my figure has gone for a toss”) and do theatre, films, a realistic and interesting talk or style show on television. “It’s a challenge, and I can do it,” she said with dogged Irani determination. Shenaz, after Ishq Vishk, Hum Tum, Aagey Se Right and Radio, is waiting for Aamir Khan’s Delhi Belly to release and real stardom to happen. “But I’m working on a documentary feature, an international travel show, hosting events, doing a comedy film in May, a naughty play in November, and writing a screenplay,” she poured out. And Nauheed, following her small but meaningful role in Kurbaan and stints in Lakeer, Life Mein Kabhie Kabhiee and Main Aur Mrs Khanna, has decided to become picky about roles. “No chotta-motta, crappy stuff,” she declared, “I’d rather do a tiny role for a big banner and get noticed, or not at all. So I’m there in Bollywood — but not there, and I’m keen on hosting shows in television.”

They all intend to celebrate Navroze the traditional way (“the same way I’ve done for 50 years,” Boman said) with family — the traditional big Parsi lunch, washed down by tall glasses of falooda and tankards of beer, followed by the Sunday afternoon post-Dhansak nap, then perhaps a naatak in the evening. “But there are no Parsi plays being made nowadays,” grumbled Boman. However, there is cricket, the IPL tamasha — Chennai vs Punjab, put your money and your prayers on M S Dhoni or Yuvraj Singh. “Would you bet your grandmother’s ghara and jewellery on Preity Zinta losing again,” one of the gents asked one of the girls. “Not on Navroze,” she replied.

  • Burjor Bharucha

    I don’t see any half breed in the photograph. Parsis marrying Iranis or vice a versa do make the children half breeds. I feel we should refrain from making such comments which unnecessarily hurt feelings of the person concerned.
    In fact they should be lauded as they have made a distinct mark in show business. They in fact, despite coming from a miniscule community makes us all proud with thier talent and achievements.

  • dr.arnavaz m havewala

    nice article.
    there are no “half-breeds”, as you call them.
    but yes, we do have superb stars who have one parsee or irani parent.john abraham, aftab shivdasani come to mind..they are real hunks.
    you should not call them “half-breeds, but children of mixed parentage.”
    please mind your ps and qs mr.mark manuel,
    and mr./ms. editor, i feel such phrases should definitely be edited out from articles in a reputable newspaper such as the TOI is.
    dr.arnavaz m. havewala

  • I think that Parsi Khabar should start a Gujarati portal since many Parees do not seem to be comfortable with Engish and end up offending others by using inappropriate words.This happens because older generation studied in Vernacular medium.One such person on this blog called a non Parsee as an outcaste without understanding the meaning of outcast and so ended offending a non Parsee.In the past many Parsees with limited academic attaiments secured jobs in Parsee establishments and rose in rank by virtue of seniority and “Maska Palish’ Now they brag of being retired Executives but when they pen their thoughts,flaws in expressions show up raising avoidable embarassment to all.

  • Delnavaz

    Hi Piloo,
    I dont think there is a need for a Gujarati portal. It does not matter if a person has studied in a vernacular medium or in a Convent school. What is important is that all of us need to take care while disagreeing with another blogger, however incompatible our views may be. Most of the personal attacks (both by reformists or traditional Parsis) are intentional & not due to a lack of command on the English language, thanks

  • rustom jamasji

    Just a point to ponder..
    Fashion Parades, bollywood tunes and ramp modelling…all have their place and importance in the world, yet when it makes up a core or starts being portrayed by the community as the saturation point, then there may lie a problem.

    Lets look at recent celebration and award giving function at the Dadar navrooz celebrations.

    After the talks by the economists and the bigshots were the awards to young students.

    Within the awardees were 2 young boys from the dadar athornan who scored first class and above in their regular studies and also in academics relevant to the athornan.

    It shows the aptitude of the boys and the decission to further the cause of their ancestors and excell in that too.

    Such awards are regularly given as many young boys from the athornan excell in many areas and fields apart from academic zoroastrianism and the responsibility to do so at a very tender age..

    Now lets look or name any single initative taken by bigwigs, those whom we invite as guests of honours at zoroastrian functions or any other, that enhances academic zoroastrian knowledge within the fairer sex. Name any initiative even at the rate of 1/10 the effort taken them to enhance the young ladies into modelling on ramps or clowning bollywood styles.
    Lets look at any initiative by any bigwig to explore the possibility for young men apart from the ones in the athornan to academically study on the lines of Prof Hinells, Or Prof Rusell or Late prof Boyce or Dr Kotwal or Jamasasa or Dr Karanjia?

    Then ofcourse those 2 young boys who got the award and their types will have to battle economic pressure since after completing athornan academics, dastoors are always talked bad about, but they will also bear the brunt of being made fun of, since their counterparts and young boys are brought up in a culture that frowns upon the dastoorship or wants to reach for what is culturally portrayed as’ in style’ by the community.

    I am afraid the Zoroastrian functions are turning into stereotype clowning of page 3, and eagerly pushing our youngsters especially young girls into areas already hyped up by the glamour world and the media.

    Ofcourse peer pressure from the glamour industry, media, page 3, college groups have already made a mark as even the sudreh pooshi ceremonies are clelebrated devoid of the sudreh or pooshi(kusti).

    Navrooz or any ghambar or mehergaan or any other festivity or continuing athornanship to practising zoroastrianism by understanding it is at crossroads of being wiped out, since the meaning behind the functioning and the celebrations are being overshadowed by clonning fashion shows to a extent much beyond their scope and importance.
    We have to install a sense of pride and achievements in our youngsters when they know of their roots and history.
    Imagine Israel if they portrayed only such as the core to their feasts and culture, the would have been wiped out especially in their surrounding environment if it werent for the responsibility and sense of pride that comes with the knowledge of who they are and how they have to survive as Israelis,.

  • Piloo.

    May be you are correct but just to point out, often many think in Gujarati and then make a literal translation into English. The instance I pointed out, we want to call a “Parjaat” i.e. belonging to another faith but while expressing in English one tends to use an offensive word like outcast which has altogether a different meaning. Do you get me?
    I agree with your observation that on certain issues personal attacks are intentional but in the process the community stands to tarnish its image by use of language that would embarrass even a fisher-woman or a scavenger.

  • Farzana

    Rustom, Are you trying to say Parsis should not do what their heart desires or celebrate Navroze in page 3 istyle…instead they should spend their money funding education for children studying at dadar madressa?

  • Rohinton

    Dear Pilloo,

    Right now you take offence to the incorrect translation of a few Gujerati words!!

    I hope you have the far-sight to be prepared for more languages ( not all will be able to write/speak in perfect English !) being part of the ” neo-Parsi ” group.

    And ofcourse, it goes without saying that you will also have to be prepared for many more religions to be part of the neo-Zoroastrian group !!!!!!

  • Rohinton


    I meant to say fore-sight not far-sight !!! A thousand apologies, dear Sir/Madam !!!!!!!!!!

  • Dear Rohinton,
    I do not take any offence for ‘tuty footy’ English of others. I can understand their problems and the agitated state of mind when they type posts here. By the way,I could not follow the banter about my being a part of ‘neo Parsi group’. Is your group something different and/or superior?
    You have further mentioned something about neo Zoroastrian. It appears you have misunderstood my posts.
    I am not expecting Oxford English from anybody nor am I that proficient in the language myself. My object was that while expressing we should avoid hurting feelings of others by use of inappropriate words.Why do we have to look down upon Gujarati?
    Nor am I a Reformists as you seem to insinuate. I am being plain realistic. It is my belief that NO BODY can prevent Conversions into Zoroastrianism taking place all over Europe, whether you or me approve of that or not.
    If you have a strategy to stop conversions into Zoroastrianism in other countries please share the same.

  • Farzana

    Rohinton sez==>”And ofcourse, it goes without saying that you will also have to be prepared for many more religions to be part of the neo-Zoroastrian group !!!!!!”

    So Rohinton… whats your problem dear, with other cultures assimilating within Zoroastrianism?

  • ANTI – Dhongidox.

    Rohinton & Piloo;
    Have you thought of the fact of a convent educated person –exceedingly fluent in English, purposely trying to write in broken language/SMS language to hide his dual identity? It has Already Tumbled Out. You Know what I mean.

  • Farzana

    Interesting observation, anti-dhongee…I wonder why anyone would want to write in SMS english like a teen and confuse others of their TRUE identity, unless ofcoz she/he has number of sKeletons in the closet.

  • Rohinton


    READ MY POSTS CLEARLY– I said ” DIFFERENT RELIGIONS being part of ZOROASTRIANISM ” not different “cultures” as you have twisted it !!!


    You are the one criticising someone’s incorrect use of language , not I !!!

    Please read my posts carefully. If you do , all your questions will be answered.

    I have said ” I am not entirely against conversion ” . Ofcourse, I will never understand how one can discard one’s own religion and suddenly start practising a new one … I am sure there are people who can do it , I just would not be able to do it without continuing to still bring my religion into it !!!!

  • Farzana

    So Rohinton, what exactly do you mean by ‘religion’ ?

  • Rohinton


    I could give you a reply , but I am finding the constant need to repeat myself very TEDIOUS .

    Also, you write ” if at all God does exist ” on another post ….what, then, are you doing constantly lambasting the Parsi/Zoroastrian way of worship ?

  • Farzana

    It was a simple question, Rohinton, … If you have the answer… fine…share it! there is no necessary for you to divert the subject!!

    again where do you see me lambasting Zoroastrian way of worship?

    well, regarding the God question… i’ll reply to you there.

  • farzana

    Again mister, define ‘Zoroastrian way of worship’ ?

  • Rohinton


    Your words , ” IF GOD REALLY EXISTS….. ” !!!!

    Are you an ATHEIST or a ZOROASTRIAN ??????

  • Farzana




  • armeen

    ….belated nowroz mubarak,