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the-south-asian.com                         7  August   2000

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Shop No. 256, Meena Bazaar, Old Delhi

By Sharad K. Soni

 

 

- It houses one of the biggest collections of

Hindi film and non-film music... 

- it is owned by Syed Zafar Shah - the

man who is acknowledged as the largest private collector of

old gramophone records

-it has a unique cataloguing system. Songs or

records which are easily available are put in a category

called Chalu, those which have gone out of circulation are

titled Cancelled, and those which belong to the pre-partition

era, that is before 1947, are categorised as Khandani.

 

 

It is easy to get lost in the endless by-lanes of old Delhi.From the famed Jama Masjid to Khari Baoli, from Chitli Qabar to Balli Maran, it is a world away from the frenetic city of Delhi. A world which still lives in the medieval ages and sets its own languorous pace.

Wedged between Jama Masjid and Dariba Kalan is Meena Bazaar, the ancient market that is a storehouse of shops selling paans, burqas (veils worn by Muslim women), caps and pictures of famous Islamic religious places. The bazaar is said to have travelled from Agra toDelhi when Emperor Shah Jahan shifted his capital here in 1638.

Though the by-lanes of Mean Bazaar are a throwback on India's colourful past, it is no longer a market for high profile shops or shoppers. Yet shop No. 256 is of very special significance to many. And the shop-owner may well be on his way into the Guinness Book of World Records.

Shah Music Centre, as the name suggests, is a one-stop shop for music lovers. But this is no hole-in-the-wall cassette and CD vending outlet. It houses one of the biggest collections of Hindi film and non-film music records from all over the world which are stacked into every nook and cranny of the shop. This fascinating collection is owned by Syed Zafar Shah - the man who is acknowledged as the largest private collector of old gramophone records---be it the 78 or 45 rpm or even the long playing variety. "I even have the rarest of rare four inch records, which were invented long before the conventional ones," says Zafar Shah and adds, " I possess most of the Hindi and Urdu labels ever produced in the world. And there are labels of many other Indian languages."

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