Rustom Faramna Agiyari
This is the story of Rustom Faramna, who gave us the Rustom Faramna Agiyari at Dadar, Mumbai.
Contributed by Sam M.Billimoria
Rustam, was a poor youth, who had lost his father, when he was very young, and was staying with his ailing mother, in Pandey Chawl, at Karelwadi, Thakurwad, Mumbai. Due to poverty he was not properly educated. He was dark skinned, thin and very tall, and had a very shrill voice. Finding employment was a problem for him, due to all his drawbacks.
Ultimately, he approached one Dadi,Thoothi, who had formed a drama company to stage dramas, to employ him as an actor. During that period, cinemas showing silent films had not yet entered Mumbai, hence, staged dramas were the attractions for entertainment. During those days, female roles on stage were performed by male actors. Due to his shrill voice, he was suitable for female roles, but his tall stature was a handicap. Nevertheless, as his luck would have it, this handicap turned out to be an asset for the drama company, because the audience automatically started laughing and clapping the moment he entered the stage.
During those days, Parsis were performing dramas in Hindi and Urdu besides Gujarati, hence their dramatic societies performed in other parts of the country too. Native Rajas, Maharajas, Nawabs were their main patrons. Once, the Maharaja of Jaipur, invited Dadi Thoothi’s drama company to perform in his palace at Jaipur.
Now it so happened that, Rustamfaramna, besides being an actor, also served as a “Babarchi” to feed his co-actors. He was an expert at preparing Parsi dishes like ‘Dhan-shak”, “Curry-chaval”, “Khichri-patio”. Once, Rustamfaramna made bold enough to offer his dish to the
Maharaja and his Indian and Foreign guests who had gathered to watch a drama of his Company. All of them relished the Parsi dishes so much that it turned turned Rustam Faramna’s fortune.
When his drama company prepared to leave Jaipur, to take up some other assignment, the Maharaja of Jaipur, ordered Rustamfaramna not to leave, because he wanted to appoint him as a cook in his Royal Guest-House. All the Indian and Foreign guests of the Maharaja relished the food of the guest-house so much, that the Maharaja, started sending Rustam-
Faramna to his royal guesthouse at Agra too, because most often, the guests who visited Jaipur, never failed to visit Agra too, to see the Taj, and other Mughal monuments at Agra and Fatehpur-sikri.
In the good old days,Rustamfaramna’s co-actors used to tease him, by calling him Rustam-Curry-chaval. Now with his changed fortune, he felt proud of the title awarded to him by his old colleagues. Gradually, the Maharaja of Jaipur, helped Rustam-faramna, in financing opening of his independent Hotel Savoy at Agra., which catered to the rich in European style, with his favorite Parsee dishes. Then onwards, he moved from rags to riches. He gathered wealth, but unfortunately had no heir to hand it over.
Thus, the Dadar Parsee Colony, became fortunate enough to have its present Rustam-Faramna Agiyari, in 1930.