Thursday, 14 March 2013

Helen



Helen Jairag Richardson is an Indian film actress and dancer of Anglo-Burmese descent, working in Hindi films. She has appeared in over 500 films. She is often cited as the most popular dancer of the item number in her time. She was the inspiration for four films and a book. Helen was born on November 21, 1939 in Burma to an Anglo-Indian father and Burmese mother. She has a brother Roger and a sister Jennifer. Her father died during the Second World War. The family trekked to Mumbai in 1943 in order to escape from the Japanese occupation of Burma. Helen told Film fare magazine during an interview in 1964, "We trekked alternately through wilderness and hundreds of villages, surviving on the generosity of people, for we were penniless, with no food and few clothes. Occasionally, we met British soldiers who provided us with transport, found us refuge and treated our blistered feet and bruised bodies and fed us. By the time we reached Dibrugarh in Assam, our group had been reduced to half. Some had fallen ill and been left behind, some had died of starvation and disease. My mother miscarried along the way. The survivors were admitted to the Dibrugarh hospital for treatment. Mother and I had been virtually reduced to skeletons and my brother's condition was critical. We spent two months in hospital. When we recovered, we moved to Calcutta". Helen had to quit her schooling to support her family because her mother's salary as a nurse was not enough to feed a family of four. In a documentary called Queen of the Nautch girls, Helen said she was 17 years old in 1957 when she got her first big break in Howrah Bridge.

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