arch 22: Actress, Playboy "Bunny" and 1970s sensation Katy Mirza died recently in London.
Katy, 61, is survived by son Firoz, an actor. Family sources declined to divulge details of her last minutes, seeking privacy in their hour of grief.
A young Katy, an aspiring graphic designer in 1972-73, was working as a receptionist at the London Hilton hotel when a Playboy Club employee saw her and asked her to audition. After meeting Hugh Hefner, Katy become a Playboy "Bunny" in 1973.
Katy, the daughter of an income tax officer, was born in Aden as Katiya. In the 1960s, her family moved to the UK. Fame and stardom brought Katy to Mumbai. She featured in Ramesh Bhal's Kasme Vaade, starring Amitabh Bachchan and Rakhee. Katy played Ruby, a politician's personal secretary, in the controversial film Kissa Kursi Ka (1978).
Actress Anju Mahendroo said she had last spoken to Katy a month ago when she'd been admitted to a London hospital.
Speaking to a Mumbai tabloid, Mahendroo said: "We used to WhatsApp each other jokes and then a few months ago, Katy wrote that she would not be able to WhatsApp back as she was seriously ill."
Asked if Katy led a happy life after her high-profile career, Mahendroo said: "Yes, she had a nice home near Sussex and was devoted to her son."
Kissa Kursi Ka was canned and consigned to the archives because Indira Gandhi's conscience-minders perceived it as an attack on the Emergency. The film, which featured Raj Babbar and Shabana Azmi, was a satirical comment on the political system. A commission investigated the film and found that the plot resembled the life of Sanjay Gandhi. The film's prints were confiscated and burnt.
The chatter related to the film helped the Janata Party decimate Indira in the 1977 Lok Sabha polls. The Janata government set up the Shah Commission that looked into the alleged excesses committed during the Emergency.
Sanjay was held guilty of burning the prints of the film. The Supreme Court refused to grant him bail and he spent a month in Tihar jail. Then information and broadcasting minister V.C. Shukla also faced trial for allegedly destroying the prints of the movie and was jailed for two years. The verdict was later overturned.
Katy never made it big in Bollywood but there were many rumours about her perceived closeness with the likes of Hussein bin Talal, the then king of Jordan.
She was seen on television in an episode of The Garland (1981) and again in The Magician of Samarkand (2006).
For the most part of the 70s, Katy adorned magazine covers and centrespreads. It was rumoured that she had her breast size surgically reduced by ten inches. Columnist and novelist Shobhaa De had described it as "Operation Bust".
De had written in the "Eyecatchers" section of India Today magazine in 1978 about Katy's "well-publicised operation to reduce her bustline by ten fulsome inches". Calling it "Operation Bust", she had said Katy had emerged "slimmer, lighter and with a big load off her chest".
Katy had been mentioned in Sudeep Chakravarti's novel Tin Fish, which was published in 2005. Her photographs were a part of the photo essay book India: Then and Now, put together by Rudrangshu Mukherjee and Vir Sanghvi.