Helen – she was Bollywood’s ultimate seductress! An ultimate entertainer par excellence, Helen charmed an entire generation of Indians with her good looks and cabaret dances moves and her career was nothing short of a fairy tale.
She started her film career as a chorus dancer in Hindi films like Awara and Shabistan in 1951. But, fame came to this beauty in 1957 with her memorable item number ‘Mera Naam Chin Chin Chu’ in the film Howrah Bridge. Her dancing skills and stunning beauty came to the limelight with this popular item number. Popularly called ‘cabaret queen’, this ever-green actor enchanted her fans with her unforgettable performances in more than 500 films.
The seductress of Bollywood
She immortalised the role of vamp and added a special charm to her roles with her seductive looks. She was an unavoidable part of the Hindi suspense-thrillers of 1960’s and 1970’s.
She played the role of Kitty Kelly, a happy go lucky girl in the 1965 film Gumnaam. This psychological thriller revolved around the plight of the deserted passengers in an island, as they were mysteriously killed one after another.
The film was a crowning moment in Helen’s acting career as her jovial character contrasted with that of other passengers, who were traumatized by the tragedy. Her subtle acting gave another dimension to the film, making it one of the most unforgettable suspense thriller films.
Helen’s fans consider ‘Mehbooba’ song (Sholay) as her best ever performance. Helen danced to her heart’s content in this item number. This song was so popular that it was remixed years later. Her dazzling performance in this song made her the indisputable item song queen of her era, a feat yet to be achieved by today’s actresses.
Her colorful film career became the subject of a film, when the legendary Merchant Ivory Films, came up with a 30-minute documentary on her life and films titled, ‘Helen, Queen of the Nautch Girls.’