Bollywood’s dancing queen turns 74!
Born on November 21, 1939, Helen Jairag Richardson aka Helen is one of the most popular dancers of her times. She was born to an Anglo-Indian father and Burmese mother. Helen’s father died in the Second World War when she was four years old. The family had no option but to move to Mumbai to escape the Japanese occupation of Burma. Young Helen quit school to support her family. Helen got her first break in Bollywood as a chorus dancer in films such as Shabistan and Aawara.
She 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 Dev Anand’s Jewel Thief. In her prime time Helen lived with director PN Arora, who was her benefactor. She broke up with him in 1973 and married Salman Khan’s father writer Salim Khan, who helped her get roles in films like Don, Dostana and Sholay. Helen made a huge impact as an effortless dancer in Bollywood. 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, Helen received the prestigious Padma Shri from the government of India for her major contribution to the Indian film industry.