Aruna Irani: 75 years and still kicking

History of Hindi cinema would indeed be an unfinished painting, were not the characters enacted by Aruna Irani form a part of the final construct.

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Had it been a mainstream actor having completed 75th birthday, there would have been lot of fanfare and media coverage on all forms of media, be it the mainstream or the online platforms, the social media, etc. However, Aruna Irani who celebrated her 75th birthday yesterday did not find a single column of space for the milestone in her life that she achieved yesterday!

The year was 1981. LOVE STORY was released supposedly to launch the career of Kumar Gaurav and it was launched, but the song picturized on Aruna Irani – kya gazab karte ho ji – welcoming a teenager into the world of amore and suggestively and sexily inviting Kumar Gaurav to enter into the world of bodily relationships was the ultimate manifestation of a teasingly sexual song. At the cusp of teenage that we were, for us this song was the paisa vasool moment of the film and in the hindsight I do wonder, whether this song drew the audiences into the cinema halls and repeat audience!

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We need to remember the year was 1981, the society still was very conservative, and the physical on screen seduction or lovemaking was more suggestive in nature than an expression through enactment. Aruna Irani was its oomph best and one often wonders, whether the song from DON – ye mera dil pyar ka dewana – sought inspiration from this song from LOVE STORY. In terms of popularity, ye mera dil is popular but in terms of seduction oozing on the screen and seduction packed in every move, song from LOVE STORY is a class in itself. The comparison and contrast becomes manifest when one finds that Helen was a trained dancer, while Aruna Irani became a dancer on the screen by learning the moves as and when they were offered to her.

Aruna Irani had shown the spark of a seductress in the famous Song from BOBBY (1974) – MAIN SHAYAR TO NAHI and who knows, as Raj Kapoor and Rajendra Kumar were fast friends Aruna Irani was chosen as the lucky mascot for love story as well!

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After all, Aruna Irani was a star discovered by Dilip Kumar when he was auditioning for his home production GANGA JAMUNA. She was one of the unlucky stars that Hindi cinema had. Here was an actress at the age of 25-26 who had two super duper hits in the form of CARAVAN in 1972 and BOMBAY TO GOA in 1972 but she did not find any producers at her doorstep for six months and was forced perhaps to shift to small roles on account of the critical financial situation at home.

While she may not have got the desired success post 1972, she had a charmed life on silver screen through on-screen pairing with Mehmood. The pair of Mehmood and Aruna Irani was a regular character in most of the Hindi films during those times.

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Aruna Irani, when she began her second career as a character artist in elderly roles, really came into her own. BETA began that phase for her and after that, again no film worth its name could come to the drawing board without Aruna Irani as a character in the film. Incidentally, his brother Inder Kumar made BETA for which she got her Best Actress Filmfare Award.

Subsequently Aruna Irani graduated to a television career and made her presence felt decisively on the small screen as well. A history of Hindi cinema would indeed be an unfinished painting, were not the characters enacted by Aruna Irani form a part of the final construct.

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