Helen – the elegant dancer of bollywood.
Helen had contributed a lot in bollywood films from 50s to 70s with her powerful dancing. In the early 50s, most of the actresses did not learn specialised dancing and as such the films required Cuckoo, and other dancers to fill up the vacuum. But Helen, encouraged composers to create music in the manner which suited her dancing style.
In Gumnam, in 1965, she got a positive role, being one of the many members who were trapped in an unknown island and killed one after the other. In that film also Shankar Jaikishan had composed the song “is duniya me jeena hai to sunlo meri baat” in a typical manner which suited her choreographic skills. She also acted well in the film showing the anxiety of the character. She also performed in the mujra composed by Roshan, titled “nikele the kahan jane ke liye” in the film Bahu Begum, which was sung by Asha. In Teesri Manzil, in 1966, her dance number opposite Shammi Kapoor, titled “woh haseena zulfowali” composed by RD Burman, and sung by Asha and Rafi, became an everlasting hit.
She also acted in prominent roles like the partner of Mehmood, in the film Pyar hi Pyar, where the central characters included Dharmender and Vaijayantimala. Shankar Jaikishan, even procided the orchestration in the song “muqabla humse na karo’ in the film Prince, where Helen performed the western dance number against Vaijayantimala who performed the eastern dance number. Shammi Kapoor complimented both of them with his rock and roll style of dancing.
In the 70s, Helen performed in mostly dance numbers, like “piya tu ab to aja” in the film Karwan, sung by Asha, composed by RD Burman, “mehmooba, mehbooba, in Sholay, etc. Very significantly the acting skills of Helen were not exploited to that extent by most producers and directors. But whenever she got good roles she had done well. For example she performed the role of the mother of Meenakshi in Big B’s Akela, and done well. At the same time she acted mostly in negative roles, including the role opposite Rajesh Khanna in Mere Jeevan Saathi. Viewers expect Helen to act in character roles in the films made in the years to come, as it is evident that she had not lost her acting potentiality and still can contribute in recent films.
By: Rumi Chatterji.