THE FEMME FATALES OF LAHORE
ZUTSHKI SISTERS GLAMOROUS
Fashion starters and Civil disobedience hand in hand
Where there was dearth of women on roads, on streets or in clubs, there were some amazing citizens of Lahore. The Zutshki sisters were one of them. Excellently dressed, up to their mark, they had no hesitation with boys, who grovelled around them. They forced their admission in Government College Lahore, and could startle most people. Mostly seen in Arab hotel opposite Islamia College Lahore, as places on the Mall, was beyond the financial reach of this kind of crowd. Arab hotel was run by owner Bhai Aboud, who was lest bothered about the paying abilities of the entrants, and the intellectual elite frequented it. That is why people thronged the hotel, to eat the relishing kababs, smoke their heart out, and perhaps come cross the Zutshkis themselves. One could find there journalists, writers, artists, as well as all those who could provoke a laughter in the people. A literal festive mood of the IN people, perhaps replaced later in times by the Pak Tea House near Nila Gumband, Lahore.
In one such incident a journalist relates, how Abdur Rahman Chughtai was transfixed when the Zutshki sisters entered the room. He was spell bound and perhaps thinking of some new creation of his. As Paul Drury would say that the artist had memory bank of faces from where he could issue cheques at will for his works. My uncle Abdur Raheem Chughtai had tales to tell about Zutski sisters too. The mother Lado Rani Zutshki loved to display her daughters, all dressed up, at various places.The beguiling charm of the three sisters, namely Manmohini, Shyama and Janak was extraordinary. They were on the desire tips of Lahore.
The funny thing is that these were amongst the first women in Lahore who were able to get their B.A degrees. Remarkable for that period. More remarkable they joined hand with Congress and started civil disobedience movement against the Government of British India. They made salt at River Ravi and in general meeting, Nehru was seen dancing with them. All the 2000 volunteers at the camp near Ravi was dancing of all dances, the PATHAN dance. Sardar Mangal Sngh was GOC Congress at that time, and we present an image of him too.
Finding images of people, who were once famous and then forgotten, is not an easy job. I always wanted to do a piece on Zutshki sisters but could not find an image. Strangely the images come from the scrap book of a student of Government College who was doing his Masters at that time. It seems that the Zutshkis had cast a spell on him too and he had cut some pictures from magazines, newspapers etc, to keep afresh the beguiling charms of an era gone bye.