Born on 21 November in Burma, her family moved to India during world war II. Along the route her family by luck met Cukoo, the famous dance star of films of her times. With her help Helen got few assignments in films but all were chorus. Later she worked hard, got training in Kathak, Bharatnatyam etc so as to meet the requirements of Film Dancing.
I remember how she beautifully matched the dance skills with Ragini ji in film Shikari.
Tumko dil diya itni shaan se
watching at this song i felt Helen ji did incredible dancing, in many frames she danced better than Ragini ji.
Our dance teacher used to tell us, as to how to perform on stage, In all those things Helen ji was exactly fit! most notable is the facial expression. Face is crucial part, bhaav comes our from smallest twitch of muscles of face. but a look at face should give impression that dancer is enjoying his or her act. Whenever you see Helen ji dancing, that moment we forget everything and transform in dance world, the emotions etc take over.
Helen ji danced in films of many languages. Even in Bhojpuri films. But looking at her face one cannot make it out that she did’nt understand nuances of folk language or folk dance.
Most amazing thing was that she designed her costumes herself, she did her own makeup. She used to purchase accessories from abroad, whenever she got chance she brought all that needed for her costumes, Feathers etc.
One thing as a dance student i noticed that in all her dance she never looked vulgar!! She started the Cabaret dancing on screen, if you don’t believe then watch any dance number earlier to Helen ji. Sensuous yes but not vulgar.
I started collecting pictures of Umrao Jaan. But then I don’t know which photo is to be deleted from this collection.
Each and every frame speaks something or the other, Emoting various kinds of emotions. I don’t have caliber to select or delete any of these photos. Rekha ji did a memorable role in this movie and her name and her acting in this role will be etched in golden words in history of Indian cinema along with two other names one is most respected MeenaKumari ji and Shri Muzaffar Ali, who is a Raja in true sense and sensibility…from Kotawara and Luknow…which is often pronounced as Nakhlou
On the eve of New year I saw on the Star Plus Channel that Rekha ji was honoured with LifeTime Achievement award at StarScreenAward Function held some time back.
Amazingly She danced at her old song with full vigour. (at this age) She was full of grace.
Just saw a tweet about Rekha ji honoured with lifetime achievement award at a function named #SansuiColorsStardustAwards. it was presented by the Javed Akhtar ji and Shabana Azmi ji. How one can describe Rekha ji and her journey in films. She started as a novice and at very young age. Given the circumstances of family she had to act in films. it is heartening and sad that young teen was not given any option, she had to sacrifice all her freedom for employment.
deep espressive eyes
As we know through media She had a troubled childhood. Now days media and internet has given opportunity to a seeker of information. But her immediate family must have struggled to survive in this harsh world. She groomed herself and became a star on her own, she created a style. If i can say so she is evergreen glittering star.
She blossomed into a matured artists as evident from few of her films. Khoobsoorat, Umrao Jaan, Utsav to name few.
She created magic on screen. The other star which i liked before Umrao Jaan was Meena Kumari ji. I am a confirmed fan of Smt Meena Kumari ji. In childhood i epitomized her.
Her portrayal of emotions was superb on screen. Whenever she cried on screen i felt same and whenever she felt angry anguish or she felt pain, i also felt the same pain, such was the connection with her onscreen persona. She was a star bigger than the screen. She immortalized the roles she played/acted in films.
But when i saw Umrao Jaan i was totally mesmerized by the sheer color, dazzling costumes, immortal music and more over the seriousness by which Rekha ji enacted the role on screen. Many times she herself had confirmed that it was UmraoJaan that discovered Rekha. Rekha and UmraoJaan became synonymous to each other. It was brilliance of Shri Muzafar Ali, the Raja of Kotwara that brilliance of Rekha ji came out so well on screen as Umrao Jaan. The film story, editing, music played the key role. And story itself was from my city Lucknow thus i became fan of the film as well.
It is really a mystery that how she has groomed herself from her first film to the present day.
in these years many opportunities came to her.
She carried her charm despite of UPs and Downs in life.
Each of these frames speak in volume about her skills of emoting. For that she got the award for UMRAO JAAN.
then this film Utsav happened and for me no other star could have been more suited for this role other than Rekha ji.
in spite of good music well researched this film’s music could not spell magic as Umrao Jaan did. Though the songs bela mahka ri mahka dil kyo bahka and others were superb songs. But still i feel more music with dhrupad elements for dance could have been shown in this film as somehow this film centered around a courtesan. a dancer.
Sahibzadi Zohra Begum Mumtaz-ullah Khan was the actual name of Zohra Sehgal ji. But I knew her most energetic persona. Zohra Sehgal ji. Many years back I saw a TV serial Mulla Nasiruddin on Doordarshan. it was based on stories that we used to hear during childhood. But i had been admirer of Zohra Sehgal ji as i am a student of Dance. Thus anyone in India who is learning dance must know about Zohra ji. Beacsue she was the leading dancer in Uday Shankar’s dance troupe that toured the world in 1935? imagine that was before India got freedom. And in those days dancing by any girl of a respected family was something unbelievable, it was something like death. But Zohra Sehgal ji was always a fighter. However she got backing from her maternal uncle and few of his friends. With the help of her maternal uncle she went to Europe to study, but she also joined classes in Dance, modern dance. In material available in net she is termed as a tomboy? means during childhood she was not just a girl.
She acted in few plays, stage shows withe her sister Uzra in Lahore.
She worked in the Prithvi Theatre as leading lady/actor in many stage shows accross India, her sister Uzra ji was already a leading actor of Prithvi Theatre.
She met Kameshwar Sehgal, when Uday Shankar started his dance academy at Almora(1940). Do you know our great film maker Guru Dutt ji was also learning dance at this academy. Zohra ji married Kameshwar Sehgal. Later they started as school at Lahore, Zohresh dance Institute. But they during migrated to Bombay, and She joined the Prithvi Theatre as an actor in 1945. She worked in few Hindi films also.
After death of her husband she moved to Delhi and then to London. There she worked in theatre shows also got opportunity to work in TV series, few on BBC also.
World famous and reputed Merchant Ivory production roped her in a film Courtesan of Bombay in 1982. This production house of James Ivory with the Ruth Prawer Jhabvala (the mysterious script writer) has always brought out interesting films on Indian themes. Thanx to Doordarshan that i was able to see few of them.
As she was dancer, she also did some choreography in films. most famous i remember the song (dream sequence) in Awara.
Her life in London was difficult to an extent but she some how established herself in TV series and films. Once somewhere i had read that she even did some stitching work for firm that was roped in for making curtains for the palace.
On Doordarshan when i saw the Jewel in the crown i did not know that Zohra Sehgal acted in the film as lady chaterjee (lili). I only remember a British lady near the end of series says that India actually is the jewel in the crown. Then she acted in Tandoori Nights.
later in 90s she got some films also but she did plays with her sister also during this period. She appeared in Salman & Aishwaria starer, film Hum dil de chuke sanam. on 9th July 2014 she passed away. I think she should have got Bharat Ratna.
Why she was most respected is that in-spite of the fact that she was born to a muslim family that too in a well to do family, in those times when purdah system was enforced she got education in school and went on to become s stage performer (dance & plays). Imagining about such a life one can really think of the hurdles she might have felt in her life. I or we must salute to the courage with which she worked all her life (independently on her own terms).
मीनाकुमारी जी की जन्म तिथि पर On BirthDay of most respected Meena Kumari ji. the most awarded actor.
Most talented actor of Hindi films.
To understand this phenomena- a Super Star of Hindi Films one has to feel in heart.
The day i saw Pakeezah, i started dancing. The Music, editing, dialogues, the set design, rushes of frames, Picturisation all were superb and un-matched. As if, each frame was painted by a Painter with great care. The Character played by Meena Kumari ji came to life on screen with her inborn talent to show emotion. We saw the true Saheb Jaan. When She cried i cried, When she smiled i smiled that was the connection with her& Her screen presence. When she lowered her eyelids and looked at hero through the corner of eyes i felt as if i am doing the same….
Thare Rahiyo …. banke yaar
All my classmates called me “Thare Rahio”, since i used to dance on this song of film Pakeezah. All through my schooldays and even in college days i was laughed at by all my classmates. WHY? Because I danced on all songs of Meana Kumari ji . Why they laughed because being a boy i used to dance? i was subjected to unnecessary taunts, comments. Even one uncle said that “your father will have problem for marrying you?” This was the Most unexpected comment from most respected uncle who was my neighbour. We used to give keys of my house daily when all of us leave for school and my parents for office. Most amazing thing happened
When I went to participate in a dance competition held at AND Mahila Mahvidyalaya Harsh Nagar in Kanpur. As i was coming out of college gate, i heard a voice “Thare Rahiyo” it was voice of some girl commenting from my behind? on that inter college dance competetion held at function ABHIVYAKTI in AND college that is a girls college.
So it is not that boys always pass comments at girls. But Girls also pass comments? But i think Girls got confidence due to prevalent thinking in society that dancing is a bad thing and that too a boy was dancing on stage, thus it was a collective endevour of a group of girl students of AND Mahila Mahavidyalaya, Kanpur. I am highlighting the perception of society towards the art of Dancing !!! that too if a boy dance.
All my school mates knew and remember me by the song “Thare Rahio” and नज़र लागी राजा तोरे बंगले पर “Nazar Laagi raja tore bangle par” also few remember me for “Inhi logo ne” इन्ही लोगों ने छीना दुपट्टा मेरा. What pains me that after 30 years If I get to know that some of my classmates says oh that boy who used to dance? they remember me with that comment. I also see thier posts on social media, in that i see their daughters are learning dance, and that too in US America !! means when they were my classmates for them my dance was a bad thing and an object to redicule me. But as they went to America their daughters learning dance is a good thing.
But then this Saheb Bibi Gulam Happened. And I was star struck by acting skills of Meena ji. In the role of छोटी बहु Choti Bahu choti bahu Her acting was superb. The greatest histrionics played ever by any actor on screen of Hindi Films. My respect goes to Shri GURU DUTT saheb also. He casted her in this role? All of her frames in films were unparalleled till today.
Very recently i came to know that till the date Meena Kumari ji was doing this film she had not touched the drinks. As i have heard that Shri Kamal Amrohi ji had to assist her on acting after drinking.
To this great soul of India- A bharat Ratna. I offer my pranam
Such great star take birth very rarely on this earth.