Main saare zamaane ke gham ki dawaa hoon.
(I am the cure of all the sorrows of the world.)
€"Lyrics from Helen's song in the film Adhikaar (1971)
It is now over two decades since the Hindi-film heroine drove the vamp into extinction, and even longer since the silver screen was ignited by the true Bollywood version of a cabaret. Yet, Helen €"nicknamed €˜H-Bomb' at the height of her career €"continues to rule the popular imagination. Improbably, for a dancer and a vamp, she has become an icon.
Jerry Pinto's gloriously readable book is a study of the phenomenon that was Helen: Why did a refugee of French-Burmese parentage succeed as wildly as she did in Bollywood? How could otherwise conservative families sit through, and even enjoy, her €˜cabarets'? What made Helen €˜the desire that you need not be embarrassed about feeling'? How did she manage the unimaginable: vamp three generations of men on screen?
Equally, the book is a wonderfully witty and provocative examination of middle-class Indian morality; the politics of religion, gender and sexuality in popular culture; and the importance of the song, the item-number and the wayward woman in Hindi cinema.
|Publisher:||Penguin Books India|
|Number of Pages:||264|
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