It has happened to the best of quizzards and I was far from being anywhere close to the best. The year was 2000 and the place – a packed auditorium in the south Assam town of Silchar hosting one of North East India’s most prestigious quiz fests – The North Eastern Regional Inter-College Invitation Quiz (NERICQ) organised by Jyoti. One question stood between us – representatives of St Edmund’s College, Shillong (which till then had an enviable record at the quiz. My elder brother Subhadip had represented the same college many years before with much greater success) – and the finals.

A video played on the screen and “It’s a lollipop,” I thought. Mehbooba Mehbooba from the greatest Hindi film ever made Sholay and the question, otherwise one of the simplest, “Identify the man dancing on his knees?” and then the block hit me. I just couldn’t recollect the damn name. I knew he died a few years ago, could remember the bit roles he played in other films, but not his name. Time up. And I could only bang my head on the table in front. Jalal Agha, I won’t ever forget this name.

This advertisement from 1982 featuring Jalal Agha and Kalpana Iyer with a tin of Pan Parag brought back those memories from 13 years ago.

Ad from 1982: Pan Parag with Jalal Agha and Kalpana Iyer
A matter of good taste.
Pan Parag Pan Masala
World’s largest selling pan masala.
Kothari Chemicals, 24/19, The Mall, Kanpur 208001
Agency: Everest