Helen, happy birthday!
Bollywood’s sensational dancing queen celebrates her 72nd birthday today!
Born on November 21, 1939, Helen Jairag Richardson aka Helen is the most popular dancer of item numbers in the Hindi cinema of her time. She was born to an Anglo-Indian father and Burmese mother. When she was four years old, Helen’s father died in the Second World War. The family had no option but to move to Mumbai to escape the Japanese occupation of Burma. Young Helen had to quit school to support her family, as her mother’s salary was not enough to help put food on the table. Helen got her first Bollywood break as a chorus dancer in films such as Shabistan and Aawara.
She first got noticed for her stellar performance in the song Mera naam Chin Chin Chu in Shakti Samanta’s 1958 film Howrah Bridge. Later, she appeared in many films like China Town, Gumnaam, Cha Cha Cha, Lootera, Teesri Manzil and Jewel Thief. In her prime Helen lived with director PN Arora, who was her benefactor. She broke up with him in 1973 and married writer Salim Khan, who helped her get roles in films like Don, Dostana and Sholay. Though widely appreciated for her small parts, Helen made a huge impact as an effortless dancer.
She retired from movies in 1983, but went on to do remarkable roles in films like Khamoshi: The Musical (1996), Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam (1999) and Mohabbatein (2000).
In 2009, this charismatic lady received the prestigious Padma Shri from the government of India for her major contribution to the Indian film industry. We at BollywoodLife wish Helen a very happy birthday!
First Published: 3.06 PM IST 11.21.2012