tomb of Ruttie Jinnah (right) at the Khoja cemetery
at Mazagaon was recently cleaned and the plot deweeded
When she raised her arm in defiance and lip-synced parda
nahi jab koi khhuda se to Lata Mangeshkar's voice in Mughale-Azam,
the entire nation heaved. Scores timed hours for a mere
glimpse of her ethereal beauty. She never aged; death
saw to it. Madhubala's mortal remains lie today at the
Santa Cruz Muslim cemetery. But not for her the peace
of sleep. She is too famous for that.
Last month, the marble slab from her grave was moved
from her resting place. Bits and pieces of the marble
have been stacked away in the backyard of the cemetery.
Madhubala's sister did protest to the Muslim Majlis of
the cemetery that her father Amanullah Khan had purchased
the right to the grave but could not back up her claim
Cemetery authorities have their own reasons. "We simply
do not have the space. Madubala's marble tombstone was
taking up a lot of place. Since 1984, we do not allow
any concrete tombstones,'' candidly admits Ashgar Ali,
president of the Mulsim Majlis.
In one distant corner of the same cemetery, a small mound
of mud covers the remains of another gorgeous woman, Parveen
Babi. As lonely as she was in her troubled last years.
Very few visit the graves of lyricists Majrooh Sultanpuri
and Sahir Ludhianvi, buried in the same ground.
The grave of singer Mohamed Rafi though has escaped such
rudeness. It has regular visitors throughout the year.
"Aspiring singers, lyricists and established singers such
as Shabbir Kumar come here and pay their respect to Mohamed
Rafi. They pray for success and come back when their songs
do well,'' says Ashgar Ali.
month the marble slab from Madhubala's grave at
the Santa Cruz cemetery was removed
Furhter south, at Marine Lines at Badakabarastan, is
the place where actors Nargis and Suraiya lie. Suraiya's
grave rarely gets visitors though Nargis' is visited by
her family, especially son Sanjay Dutt who prefers to
visit his mother in the dead of the night to avoid being
mobbed by the living. In this huge cemetery, two adjoining
graves are hard to miss. They are adorned by sudden greenery
and Urdu words say good things about the occupants. These
are the graves of Allahaj Sheikh Mohammed Ibrahim Kaskar
and Haji Mohammed Sabir. They are the father and brother
of underworld don Dawood Ibrahim Kaskar. The Kaskar family
members do visit the grave, though erratically.
A few kilometres towards central Mumbai is a cemetery
meant for Khoja Muslims. Here, a tombstone rises in self
importance. Four carved Italian marble pillars border
the grave. The epitaph simply reads "Ratanbai Mahomed
Ali Jinnah, 20th February 1900-20th February 1929''. The
estranged second wife of Jinnah was 29 when she had died
in Bombay, beautiful but melancholic. Recently, thieves
plundered her grave and stole the beautiful brass railings
enclosing the grave.
Ratanbai or Ruttie Jinnah rarely has any visitors, although
it recently had some Parsi visitors, says caretaker Amin.
"They cleaned up the weeds and spoke of constructing a
garden. That was some time back. I have not heard from
them later,'' he says.
Historians say that by 1927, Ruttie and Mohamed Ali
Jinnah had separated and the shifting of the Muslim League's
office to Delhi dealt the final blow to their relationship.
When she died, Jinnah sat like a statue throughout the
funeral but when her body was being lowered into the grave,
and he as the closest relative was asked to sprinkle the
earth on the grave first, he broke down.
Later, Justice Chagla said that was the only time he
saw Jinnah betray human weakness. "It's not a well publicised
fact that as a young student in England, it had been one
of Jinnah's dreams to play Romeo at The Globe. It is a
strange twist of fate that a love story that started like
a fairy tale ended as a haunting tragedy to rival any
of Shakespeare's dramas,'' Chagla recorded for posterity.