When the sex siren of the 70’s Helen sizzled on the screen to the seductive song Ye Mera Dil Pyaar Ka Deewana…… to entice the hero Amitabh Bachchan in the movie DON (1977), the audience seated in theatres went berserk! Believe it or not, according to theatre owners many film buffs saw the movie repeatedly just to get intoxicated by the oozing sex appeal of Helen in the sexy number. On October 21, Helen turns 76; Raaga.Com wishes her many happy returns of the day and reveals how destiny carved a niche for her in Bollywood.
Born as Helen Jairag Richardson on October 21, 1939 in Burma to a Burmese father and Indian mother, Helen’s family became a victim of World War II. His father was brutally killed by the brute Japanese soilders. To escape the Japanese invasion in Burma, Helen along with her mother, brother and sister came to Mumbai to make a living. At a tender age Helen had to struggle to make a living in Mumbai. Fortunately her passion for dance opened doors of stardom.
Excellent in Kathak and western dance forms, Helen began her career in Bollywood as an extra doing dancing cameos. In an interview she said, “Once I was doing a dance sequence in chorus for the movie SHABISTAN(1951), when Cuckoo, the top notch cabaret dancer of the 40’s and 50’s spotted me and was highly impressed by my dancing skills. She recommended my name to many film producers and I began getting roles in B-grade action thrillers and fantasy movies like ALIF LAILA, HOOR-E-ARAB etc.”
She informed, “The big break came when filmmaker Shakti Samanta was making the movie HOWRAH BRIDGE. Incidentally the movie had a song Mera Naam Chin Chin Chu… and filmmaker Shakti Samanta was looking for a dancer who, was not only an outstanding dancer but had chinky eyes like the Chinese. Fortunately he happened to notice me. He was not only impressed by my dancing skills but my chinky eyes adored him most as it suited the character. Thus he offered me the song and the song proved a milestone in changing my fortune.”
After this Helen never looked back. Remember her fascinating cabaret songs like O Haseena Zulfowali…. TEESRI MANZIL (1966); Aa Jaane Jaan…. - INTAQUAM (1969); Piya Tu Ab To Aaja… - CARAVAN (1971) and of course who can forget the two most memorable numbers Mehbooba Mehbooba… - SHOLAY (1975) and Mungla Main Gud Ki Dali… - INKAAR (1978).