Dancing Queen

Helen (aka Helen Jairag Richardson Khan) is a Bollywood musical legend

Helen (aka Helen Jairag Richardson Khan) is a Bollywood musical legend

The title of the 31 minute documentary Helen, Queen of the Nautch Girls (1973) is a homage to the Indian superstar Helen, who may possibly hold the title of the most famous and beloved of all Bollywood film legends. A nautch girl in India is one who specializes in demonstrating a wide variety of popular dances and Helen had few rivals at this as demonstrated by the remarkable range of her talent in a head-spinning array of film clips from her long career. Continue reading

The Bollywood Elvis in Junglee (1961)

Shammi Kapoor rips it up in  Junglee (1961)

Shammi Kapoor lets it rip in Junglee (1961)

The impact of rock ‘n roll music and the emerging youth culture of the late fifties on Indian cinema didn’t happen overnight but Junglee (1961) – one of the biggest Bollywood hits of its era – was largely responsible for ushering in the swinging sixties while smashing the formulaic conventions of the traditional romantic drama, a staple of the Bombay film industry. Not only was it filmed in dazzling color, a process usually reserved for costume epics only, but it starred the screen phenomenon known as Shammi Kapoor – India’s answer to Elvis Presley. His wild rendition of “Aai Aai Ya Suku Suku” became the rallying cry for his generation and introduced a new word into the Hindi language (Yahoo!), one that expressed an uninhibited lust for life.    Continue reading