It is 2015. Now it was time for us to go back to India from Canada. The final packing was going on at home. The university had allotted our house to another student family and today that student was going to move into that house. We were busy packing. In the drawing room, mother was sitting in her favorite corner chair by the window, eating agarbatti. The bell rang and the person who came to see the house was from Iran. After seeing the house, he started chatting with him for some time.
The mother, who had been watching TV till now, was shocked to learn that she is from Iran. He immediately said, “Syria to Iran?” This Iranian young man did not understand for two moments who this old woman Soraya was talking about. But there was only one Surya in mother’s dictionary. Not Dev Anand’s but Shah’s Surya. That Soraya was, in her mother’s words, a ‘neck doll’. According to her mother, Soraya’s skin was so beautiful that when she drank water, the water from her face was also visible outside.
Overall, the mother meant that Surya Bala was beautiful. A fashion icon for women of her time. One such fashion icon whose image once shocked the world. And then mother told this Iranian young man the story of Soraya’s love that she had told me many times since childhood.
In fact, Surya was very fond of watching movies and meeting movie stars. Well, there is nothing wrong with this hobby. Who doesn’t love watching movie stars? These desires are held by the rich as well as the poor. But being in the company of movie stars is only for the rich. Soraya was in Los Angeles and met her favorite stars Grace Kelly, Lauren Bacall, Bob Hope, Humphrey Bogart, Esther Williams. Yes, they just made a mistake. Because of this film effect, she was photographed in a bikini while water skiing in Miami. Called a “scoop” in the parlance of the American press, the picture contained a ‘scandal’ for Iranian scholars. This photo caused a stir in Iran in 1955 because Soraya was the wife of the very popular Emperor of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.
Yes, this is from 1955. Shah and Soraya had no children. This was also the reason for his visit to America. Soraya’s tests and treatment were being done in America. Meanwhile, as soon as this picture came from America, according to today’s era, this picture went ‘viral’, there was a stir in Iran. So much uproar that finally the Shah had to ban this picture in Iran. And not only that, it is also said that to avoid the wrath of the Ulama, just to divert their attention, the Shah launched a major campaign against the Baha’i sect of Iran. Due to this persecution, a large number of Baha’is fled Iran at that time. The Shah was also aware of the displeasure of the Iranian scholars and he also loved Surya very much. In fact, he could do anything for Soraya. Just couldn’t leave the throne…
Surya’s love story
I was familiar with Soraya’s love story since childhood. I don’t know how the mother used to remember the love stories of nobles from all over the world and used to tell them at night while sleeping. The story of Jacqueline Kennedy, the story of Lady Simpson, the rest of the love stories of the British royal family, the story of Soraya and Farah Diba, etc. His story-telling style was also such that there seems to be nothing ‘wrong’ in the hero, heroine, just everyone is ‘suited to the situation’. One of the benefits of hearing a story this way is that you don’t grow up hating anyone. Rather you have to try to understand the compulsion of the character.
In these love stories, he loved to narrate the story of Soraya by embracing and Soraya’s sister Farah Diba. She seemed to be a huge fan of both in her time. As much as mother loved Soraya, she loved Soraya’s sister Farah Diba.
Love, Marriage and Divorce
This love marriage between two rich, beautiful people and their subsequent divorce became a topic of discussion around the world. The son of an Iranian diplomat father and a German mother, Sooriya was raised in an entirely Western culture. Studied at a Swiss finishing school. While he had many admirers in Iran, there were also many who viewed him with suspicion. His mother-in-law and daughter-in-law also kept a distance from him in the royal palace itself. The relationship between these women was not pleasant. Soraya was supported only by her lover, her husband, the Shah of Iran.
Shah and Soraya’s marriage lasted for almost ten years. All the names of the world were in their arms, but both of them had no children. Despite all efforts, Soraya did not have a child. On the other hand, the people of Iran were expecting an heir from their Shah. The people did not approve of Bin Waris Shah. Although under Islamic law the Shah could marry without divorce, Soraya did not accept the marriage at any cost. Therefore, Shah had to divorce even if he didn’t want to. The day Shah made the news of her divorce public, she had tears in her eyes. And the world saw these tears in his eyes. While narrating this story, the mother always blamed the people of Iran that they both had to divorce.
Surya after divorce
Actually Soraya was sure of her love. Somewhere he felt that just as Edward VIII had rejected the British crown for Lady Simpson, the Shah would also reject the throne of Iran for her. But it didn’t happen. Governance is not driven by emotions but by principles. Shortly after the divorce, Shah married Farah Diba with whom he had four children. After the 1979 Islamic Revolution, the entire Shah’s family fled Iran. And died of cancer shortly thereafter. People who know about that time strongly say that Shah had relations with many women but he only loved Soraya.
Shah divorced Soraya but also provided all the wealth and material things for life after the divorce. Before dying, he wished that Soraya would come to meet him. Soraya also stipulated that Farah Diba should not be there when she goes to meet Shah. Before the two lovers could see each other again, the king died. Let me also tell you that after the divorce, Soraya acted in two films and wrote a book… Aishwari Ka Mahal… Awarishi Ka Mahal!
Reza Pahlavi, the eldest son of the Shah of Iran and Farah Diba, is in the news these days due to his activities in Iran. Raza, living abroad, is trying to fulfill his royal duties even in exile. He can be seen constantly expressing his views in the media on the veiled protests in Iran. Watching her on TV that day reminded me of the ‘Saraiya Ki Love Story’ narrated by my late mother.
Jyotsna Tiwari.Advocate and radio jockey
Jyotsana Tiwari is a lawyer. He is accompanied by a radio jockey. He has been involved in all social activities. Apart from this, she also works as a writer.