13 comments on “Let’s play Kabaddi on the ground (and some ruminations about Anjaan and early Helen)

  1. If you have this song so please post it in youtube. As the video quality seems very nice (and superbly with subtitle!!). Even the Minoo Mumtaz’s mujra was awesome too. Lovely music and lyrics Daaga Deke Na Jaiyo Balam Pardesi.

  2. This is great, thanks – I don’t think I’ve ever seen girls playing kabaddi in a film before. The closest I can think of is the scene from a much more recent film, “Hum dil de chuke sanam,” where there is a girls-vs-boys game whose name I can’t recall. It’s not quite as physical as kabaddi but it’s physical nonetheless, and the girls win. :)

    I remember that kabaddi scene from Gunga Jamuna – as I recall it also has a very attractive young Helen in it, performing a classical mujra. Those were two highlights of that movie for me; it’s not a favorite of mine.

  3. Poor Helen always had to lose to some other propa heroines! A pity.
    I never thought that Helen looks beautiful but she had so much pep! it is joy just to watch her!
    There is also a boy vs girls kabaddi song in Manmohan Desai’s Naseeb “pakdo pakdo, pakdo dekho jaane na paye” not really a gem but still it is a kabaddi song. Can be found at your tube under “Naseeb (1981) – Part 6″

  4. And another Kabaddi song I remember is from Humjoli; it’s the first song in the film: Gaaon ki main gori, chandaa ki chakori.

  5. Carla, you could say the Kabaddi scene was a highlight in Gunga Jumna, but not as much of a highlight as it is here in Anjaan. :) And yes, Helen’s classical mujra was another one of the highlights in this movie. Another highlight was the music by Naushad. And Vyjayanthimala’s dancing was certainly nice, plus she was good at putting the right amount of pathos into her character by the end. Or maybe that was one of the problems. (I haven’t decided what “verdict” to reach about this film myself, but I would agree with you in that it’s not one of my favorites…)

    By the way, I wonder what that other game was in that newer movie that you saw. I hope it wasn’t hockey. :)

    Harvey, it’s only when l look at the sweet and relatively understated Helen of those early years, that I can understand why some people consider her a beauty. But, yes, she was always fun to watch, and her dances over the years were often the high points of the films that she was in.

    I saw Naseeb a while back but didn’t recall the Kabaddi game, so I checked out the clip. And, no, that is not a gem. I think those Hema Malini motorcycle stunts made for a much better sports spectacle.

    Dustedoff, thanks for suggesting another Kabaddi song. (Maybe this would make a fun thread.) I’m not familiar with this one, and unfortunately, I didn’t find it at YouTube (not from a quick glance anyway)… I am assuming that you’re talking about Humjoli from 1970 with Jeetandra, etc., and not the one from 1946 (though it would certainly be fun to see Noor Jehan singing her way through a Kabaddi match :) )…

  6. Yes, Richard: I’d looked for the Humjoli kabaddi song on youtube, but couldn’t find it either. And you’re right, it’s the 1970 Humjoli. Somehow, I find it difficult to imagine Noorjahan playing kabbadi!!

    A kabaddi thread might be fun! Or even a sports song one…. offhand, I can think of one more song: again from Humjoli, Dhal gaya din ho gayi shaam. And then there’s She ne khela he se aaj cricket match from Love Marriage.

  7. Thanks for highlighting this song and Helen’s role in it. Its definitely one of my favorites now. She does look beautiful in it. This Kabaddi song makes one appreciate Helen even more because in her career she had many different “looks” and did many different roles and dances. Although I love her OTT performances, I appreciate just as much ones like this and Mere Naam Chin Chin Chu or the murja you mentioned from Gunga Jamuna.

    Yes, even in this Kabaddi song Helen loses to Vyjayanthimala. Lets remember that this game and the dance-offs between them were written and filmed to make it appear that Helen lost. However, as we all should know, all of these competitions have as much legitimacy as professional wrestling. They’re always going to make it appear that the the heroine won. If the “Bollywood Dance-off” was an Olympic event, Helen would always win hands down. I’m saying this because at the end of the day Helen was an athlete who could do steps no other dancer would even try. For example, in Mera Naam Jennie from Sinbad, Alibaba & Alladin she does a cheerleader toe-jump in the middle of her dance! Or in Unchi Ediwalo Ne from Bedard Zamana Kya Jane…at 2:08 she dances down the steps and turns her back to the camera and arches her body backwards! Then she continues the dance where she slaps hand with foot while continuing her dance! This dance alone would warrant a 10 by the Olympic judges lol.

  8. Thanks for the clip and the thoughts, Mister Naidu… (BTW, I’ve posted that clip here too, but it was a while ago, and I can’t find it at the moment…) I guess I shouldn’t spend too much time indulging in the fantasy that the outcome of these competitions is determined more by the dancers’ ability than what’s written in the script. But it is a fun fantasy to have, isn’t it? Anyway, our Helen vs. Vyjayanthimala debate began with the competition in Prince, and Vyjayanthimala just knocked me out with her dance segments in that one (especially the part in the green costume). I guess often I just use the imagined reality of the dance competition as a metaphor for my appreciation of the dancers’ abilities in general, regardless of whether there is a contest. (Hoping that makes some sense…)

    I’m not interested in endless debate regarding who is the best dancer, or who even had the best athletic abilities. However, since you brought it up LOL… While I would agree that Helen might have been able to beat all the others in any contact sport, I don’t know if she would have scored the highest points in any olympic competition. For gymanstically inclined dancing abilities, I think she could easily be matched by half a dozen other dancers whom I’ve seen in the Golden Age movies.

    Btw, you talk about how Helen arched backwards, slapped her foot, etc., but could she touch her head with her foot while arching backwards, like Sai Subbulaxmi…

    Or, for that matter, like Kamala Lakshman?


    (Kumkum once did that move too, by the way – I had a conversation about that in e-mail once with your DVD-making colleague Tom.)

    Actually, I think Kamala was the dancer who could beat anyone in an olympic competition…

  9. Richard, its all in good fun when I say Helen’s the best. I didn’t really want to stir the pot… ok, maybe I did just a little. Everybody has their favorites and Helen is mine. Helen was so prolific. In my estimation she danced over 1000 times in her films. I’ve seen over 250 of her videos (750 to go ;)) and much, much less of Padmini, Vyjayanthimala and others that you hold in high regard. So, forgive my ignorance of their abilities.

    Although I’m glad you agree that these dance competitions don’t really prove much, I do wish there were more. Its always fun to watch great dancers compete against each other…even if Helen always loses. lol.

    Thanks for showing the very interesting photos and video to defend your points. I guess contortionistic maneuvers were more common than I thought in Indian dance.

    Btw, I remember seeing the video I posted on your blog. I searched your blog and found it. Its in the post “Five Old Bollywood Songs That I Can’t Get Out of My Head Right Now.” You cite it as one of your favorite Helen videos…likewise mine.

  10. @Richard
    In the Youtube clip of the song I see both Vaijayntimala and Helen with their other team members join hands and dance in a circle in the end. Since I do not have access to the full film, I would like to go on believing the match ended in a friendly draw.

  11. Hi, AK. Actually, Vyjayanthimala’s team soundly defeats Helen’s. The video clip is cut off early, so even after I found it, I was glad that I had put the screen caps up… Take a look at the seventh screen cap down, and you can see Vyjayanthimala’s team all standing while Helen’s is on the ground. Then in the next screen cap, Vyj is being lifted in the air as a champion. (That’s a strange picture of her, but that’s the best focus I could get out of the scene that clearly shows Vyjayanthimala as victorious. :) )

  12. I think Helen looked her sexiest from 1961 upto 1982. If you have ever noticed, most actresses didn’t look that sexy when they were in their teens. It’s when they hit their early 20s, they started becoming beauties or sex symbols. I feel the same way about Helen. She interchanged her looks by wearing black, brown, blonde, red wigs and she had a sexy body from the early 60s up-to the early 80s.

  13. David, thank you for the comments on this old post… I did say in my post that with most actresses, I do not think they looked their best in their teens. Padmini looked much better when she was close to 30, and Vyjayanthimala looked best when she was already in her 30s. And there are lots of women who look great to me into their 50s and 60s (as they should to me, since I’ve hit 50 myself).

    But with Helen, I was referring to whether she was aesthetically pleasing, especially in her style, not whether she looked sexy. I referred to her OTT style – over-the-top style – because I just don’t think she lets her natural prettiness show as much with all that campy stuff on, etc. (Though I know lots of people consider that to be the most real Helen and love it.)

    If we’re talking about sexiness… Actually, I think probably the sexiest scene with Helen was in Sholay, when she was well into her 30s. But, to be honest, I don’t think Helen really looks that sexy in most of her movies anyway. It was more like a fun parody of sexiness than real sexiness. That’s how I see it anyway.

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