Tracing the Playboy Bunnydom to Bollywood journey of the yesteryear sensation who succumbed to cancer at her central London home a week ago
No one cried for Katy Mirza, the pleasure principle of the soaring 1970s and ’80s. Not in Bollytown at least. She passed away in her central London home, close to Marble Arch, after warring with cancer, last Thursday.
Article by Khalid Mohamed | Times of India
Her cremation will be held today in the city which she had made her home for decades. A single mother, she doted on her son, Firoz.
Aapri Katy, according to most accounts, breathed her last at the age of 67. Towards her end days, she was far too incapacitated to keep in touch even on whatsapp with her friends in Mumbai.Actress Anju Mahendru and Rabia Khan, mother of the late Jiah Khan, were among her besties.
Born Katiya Mirza in Aden, hers was evidently a long and winding journey. Moving from the port city of Yemen to London and then staying on the more genteel side of the railway tracks on Mumbai’s Grant Road, she went on to maintain an elegantly appointed apartment in Juhu close to a school’s bustling compound.
“The Juhu house would remain locked except when Katy jetted in two or three times a year,“ said a source -a source I call him since he didn’t wish to be named -adding, “She was a happy woman, with a booming laugh. Nothing would faze her, except whenever anyone mentioned the names of two senior film heroes. She had never forgiven them for treating her -how should I say it -as a sex object?“ Come to think of it in the preTwitter era, Ms Mirza was vulnerable to sexism unpunctuated.Today, Sunny Leone can fire back salvos on the networking sites, and correctly so. If a boorish TV anchor body-shames her, he will get a troll-punch back on his jaw.Not so the Grant Road girl, who became the target No. 1 for puns of the butt-and-bust kind.
Lore has it that the size of her breasts were surgically reduced by ten inches. She didn’t retaliate.Anyway what the hell, practically every magazine -the glossies as well as their country cousins -were tripping over themselves to feature her on the cover. Sold-out issues were guaranteed. And the lady didn’t ever segue into the coy mode or coin catchphrases to boost her sex appeal, no instaquotes on the lines of “jo dikhtahai woh bikta hai.“
The story of Katy Mirza, indeed, is the stuff that biopics are made of today. Snag: the pieces in the puzzle would have to be imagined or researched extensively. All that’s known categorically is that the daughter of an income-tax commissioner once studied graphic design in London. A U-turn next: a job at the city’s Hilton Hotel where she was spotted by the roving scouts of Playboy magazine, whose centrespreads were the prime source for X-rated entertainment in print.
The magazine’s Bossman Hugh Hefner, yesteryear’s closest version of Donald Trump, auditioned the Hilton employee. And a Playboy Bunny was born, pos ing for the centrespreads frequently reserved for winners of beauty pageants and top-of-theline models.
It’s a swifter-than-a-blush stay in Bunnydom. Perhaps that impelled her to think Bollywood, or perhaps some filmmaker made her an offer she couldn’t refuse, only to realise that there are no free offers in any show town. Her contemporary, Persis Khambatta, couldn’t quite make whoopee at Bombay’s studios, and sought to `star trek’ to Hollywood. Still Katy wasn’t Persis, she followed her dream only to be ghettoised as a starlet. And believe this, she was described as, and I quote, “Every Indian man’s wet dream come true.“
Employed purely for the titillation quotient in A and B-grade movies -take the Amitabh Bachchan-Raakhee breezer Kasme Vaade, the politically controversial Kissa Kussi Ka, the Vinod Khanna-Reena Roy crime drama Jail Yatra and the seven-year-ol itchish Chadhi Jawani Budhe Nu in Punjabi -here was a stairway to no-exit. Chalo London again.Appearances in episodes of the TV series The Garland and The Magician of Samarkhand are cited.
The grapevine of those Bunny days suggest a “closeness“ to Hussein bin Talal, the King of Jordan. Subsequently, she fell in love with a man of Pakistani origin, who runs The Lahore Kabab House in East London. They chose not to marry.
The Katy Mirza story wound to a quiet, undramatic end.Whether it was a happy one or a somewhere-in-her heart a disappointing one, I’ll never know.
By the way, unbeknownst to many she would model frequently and once late at night, travelled all alone in a bus from Bombay to Pune to shoot for a scooter ad. In this context, that aforecited, diffident source, remarked,“If you ask me Katy was an asli braveheart. Only in those days, no one acknowledged her guts.“
I’d go with that totally. Rest in glory, Katy.