Lock Up Your Valuables!

Anyone who is familiar with Bollywood cinema knows that every film that is churned out by the Bollywood film industry contains musical numbers. That doesn’t mean they are all classified as musicals. Quite the contrary. Almost every film genre you can imagine exists in the Bollywood universe – romantic dramas, historical epics, action-adventure yarns, spy comedies, soap operas, even horror films – and they all have musical interludes that relate to the plot. Jewel Thief, one of the biggest Bollywood hits of 1967, falls under the category of crime caper but this is not a gritty noir like Rififi (1955) or The Asphalt Jungle (1950). Instead, it is a noir-lite delight that is closer in tone to the more comic heist classics like Topkapi (1964) or romantic suspensers like To Catch a Thief (1955). What sets it apart from all of the above movies are the stylish and elaborately choreographed dance/song numbers.

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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