Helen, the first sex symbol of Bollywood who gave credibility to cabaret dance on-screen was aptly termed H-Bomb for her sensuous dance numbers by Jerry Pinto, a Mumbai based journalist, in his book called ‘The Life and Times of an H-Bomb’. Readers would be rather surprised to know that Pinto was unable to interview Helen, despite repeated calls and attempts to meet her for three years. As Helen did not respond, yet Pinto did an excellent research and went on to win National Film Award for Best Book on Cinema in 2007.
Helen, a victim of Second World War in which she lost her father and had to migrate from Burma to India after the Japanese invasion in Burma, had a tough life in the beginning. She had to quit her education mid-way and join cinema as an extra dancer to survive her family. After her many stints as chorus dancer in the movies in the 50s she was noticed in Shakti Samanta’s film HOWRAH BRIDGE (1958) for her super hit song ‘Mera Naam Chin Chin Chu…’
Later some of her most successful songs like ‘O Haseena Zulfowali…’ – TEESRI MANZIL (1966), ‘Aa Jaane Jaan’… – INTAQUAM (1969), ‘Piya Tu Ab To Aaja’ – CARAVAN (1971), ‘Mehbooba Mehbooba…’ – SHOLAY (1975) and ‘Yeh Mera Dil Pyaar Ka Diwana’ DON (1978) etc. established her as the Dancing Diva of Bollywood.
Readers would not believe but it is a fact that besides movies there was such a craze for Helen’s dance that she was even invited in foreign countries to give live stage performances. She had done many shows in London, Paris, and Hong Kong.
She has been bestowed with Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award (1998). Even the Indian government has rewarded Padma Shri, country’s civilian honour in 2009 for her invaluable contribution to Indian Cinema.
Today Helen turns 75; Glamsham.com wishes her many happy returns of the day and prays for healthy and long life.