The sequence of events.
1. I am writing my first book on Hindi films, biography of Background dancer Edwina Violette and I need a photo of Azurie.
2. I know I have it somewhere but don't have the time, I ask around, Kaustubh Pingle (who has literally thousands of cuttings from film magazines/books/newspapers and remembers where he has kept them) sends me an article on her from Screen, written its editor Ali Peter John.
3. I use the photo, thank him, and later, put the article on my website.
4. One day, Surinder Dhall calls and says Kanhaiya Lal's daughter wants to talk to me about a book.
5. She mentions that Ali Peter John wants to talk to me about his books.
6. I happen to mention to him his article on Azurie in Screen, Feb 29, 1980 and send him a copy!
7. He gets all nostalgic and writes about how he happened to meet Azurie in 1980.
The article in question
I am just lucky to have been a part of it!
Yes, 40 years is a very long time!!
By Ali Peter John
Now I know why I am called a veteran journalist, why people much older than me or much younger than me address me as 'sir'' or "sahab" or john sahab or ali peter john sahab to avoid any confusion.
The sepia tone of the article above will give anyone an idea about how old or how ancient the article I wrote is . Forty years, yes, forty of the best years of my life .
I was sitting in my office after lunch when the iconic photograph of the Indian Express, Saby Fernandes came to me and asked me if I would like to meet the well-known dancer of the forties and fifties, Azurie. I was game for any kind of adventure those days and followed Saby who was joined by his brother in law Surya Kumar (Robert) who was best known for the dances he had choreographed for Bhagwan Dada in "Albela" and many other films. Azurie had come from Pakistan and was living in Mahim with Surya Kumar and his sister, Teresa [SS: Not the background dancer Teresa, who married Oscar Unger.] who was the "wife" of Saby .
What followed was a long chat between a thirty year old young or not so young man (me) and an over-seventy Azurie who was full of life and memories of a glorious past. She told me stories about the heroes and heroines of her times and especially about the vamps and dancers. She was all praise for "that girl from rangoon who I knew would make it very big one day". She was talking about Helen.
But as the sun was setting outside Saby's window, Azurie kept looking at the "sad sun and talked about her unsadden future and the miserable lives some had heard contemporary male and female artist and dancers were living and how no one, neither the government, nor the stars or the film industry was doing anything about them.
And forty years later, Azurie's very sad voice still bring us in my ears as I realise that I have grown one year older than Azurie and my time to look out of my window to look at the "sad sun" draws closer .
(I must thank Prof. Surjit singh , my friend and publisher from Michigan for sending me this precious treasure from his box full of priceless treasures.)
Now You Know!