Beltangady: If many wanted to see the legendary Bollywood dancer Helen in person and kept humming ‘Helen tu ab toh aa aaja’, those who welcomed her at the Shantivana Naturecure Hospital of Shri Kshetra Dharmasthala on Tuesday, June 30, may have exclaimed, ‘Dekho woh aa gai’. (With apologies to the lyricist and makers of the Hindi movie, ‘Caravan’.)
At 77, Helen Jairag Richardson, known mononymously as just Helen to myriads of admirers the world over, still appeared to be a crowd-stopper and drew a lot of attention and fan following. As soon as she arrived at Dharmasthala, she paid a courtesy visit to Dr D Veerendra Heggade, the Dharmadhikari.
Soon thereafter she checked into the Naturecure Hospital. She is expected to undergo a routine but rigorous regimen of therapies for a few days.
Earlier when she landed by a JetAir flight at the Mangaluru international airport she was welcomed by Air India’s manager Nagesh Shetty. Speaking to mediapersons, she said that she had heard a lot about the city and was happy to be here.
Born in Yangon, Burma to an Anglo-Indian father and Burmese mother, she has appeared in over 500 films. Four movies and a book are said to have been inspired from her life-story.
Although she had made a debut in Bollywood in 1951, she got a major break in 1958 – then she was only 19 – in Shakti Samanta’s ‘Howrah Bridge’. Her dancing skills got recognized as she performed the song ‘Mera Naam Chin Chin Chu’, sung by Geeta Dutt.
Some of her best-remembered performances are, besides the one mentioned already, ‘Hum kaale hain toh kya huwa dilwale hain’ in Gumnaam (1965), ‘O Haseena Zulfowali’ in Teesri Manzil (1966), ‘Aa Jaane Jaan’ in Inteqam in 1969, ‘Piya tu ab toh aaja’ in Caravan (1971), ‘Mehbooba Mehbooba’ in Sholay (1975) and ‘Yeh Mera Dil Pyar Ka Deewana’ – Don (1978).
In 1981, Helen married Salim of the Salim-Javed writer-duo fame and became stepmother to Salman Khan and his siblings.