17 comments on “Nice Ballet Dancing by Sitara Devi in Hulchul (1951)

  1. Oh, how interesting to see ballet presented in a classic Indian film dance! I’m especially intrigued by how she never dabbles in fusion movements and keeps it strictly western/modern. But most of all, I find myself staring and cringing at her pointe work! The box/tip of her shoes never sits flat on the ground and instead she dances on the back of the box- I hope she didn’t have ankle problems after this! hehe. Anywho, thanks for finding this and posting it! ~Minai, former ballet-dancer who never made it to pointe shoes :)

  2. Thanks, Minai. Yes, it’s quite amazing how she stays on her toes all the time. And all due credit to Sitara Devi, the famous kathak dancer who was also Gopi Krishna’s aunt. (But I think she was known to be very eclectic in her dancing… And you can still see her doing some things here in there in clips on YouTube, in her 80s or maybe even her 90s, who knows…)

    BTW, my older sister studied ballet pretty seriously in her teens. I’m five and a half years younger, and as a child (long, long ago) I was dragged to her ballet class/studio near Carnegie Hall in New York City now and then, and with two working parents, I was often sort of under the care of my sister and her friends. (Some real characters among her ballerina friends… Maybe tales for another blog. LOL) Anyway, that made for a lot of exposure to the life of young ballet students back in my formative years. Now my sister and her daughters sometimes appear in small ballet productions in Ithaca, NY. (Well, more my nieces at this point, I think.)

  3. Wonderful dance by a great dancer!
    But choreographywise my small mind says it is neither here nor there.
    But naturally one can say it mixes the good things of ehre as well as there!
    Isn’t Sitara Devi als somehow related to Govinda or am I mixing up things?

  4. Thanks for the comment, Harvey, glad you enjoyed this. I agree that the choreography is “neither here nor there,” but I also agree with Minai, at least from what I can tell, that Sitara is doing “western movements” without any typical Bollywood-style fusion.

    I didn’t know anything about this idea that Sitara Devi was related to Govinda, but after searching around, I saw that some confusion was caused by the fact that Govinda is the son of the singer Nirmala Devi .

  5. This is what I call the ‘running around’ dance, but Sitara Devi does it gracefully. I’m no expert, but I thought her arms were too limp and bent.

    I was actually enthralled catching glimpses of Dilip Kumar, and wished for more. What a relief it was to see him unharmed at the end of the clip. LOL.
    I find Dilip Kumar very very attractive.

  6. Hi, Pacifist. I can understand what you’re saying about Dilip Kumar. Often, I can’t figure out what it is, exactly, that makes certain men particularly attractive to women (or to gay men, for that matter), but in the case of Dilip Kumar in the ’40s an ’50s, I don’t have that problem at all. He was a very handsome guy back then!

  7. Sitara has come in for a lot of praise for her kathak dance in the 1951 film ‘Hulchul’ – a film in which she had an important role. It was the role of vamp. She is a woman of independent means in that film and runs a circus. Down and out Dilip Kumar is one day run over by her car, and she then takes him home to nurse him back to health. When he recovers, Sitara falls in love with him, but Dilip is already in love with Nargis, the heroine of the film. Incidentally, ‘Hulchul’ was based on Emily Bronte’s novel ‘Wuthering Heights’. Its music was composed by Sajjad. Some of its songs are remembered even today.

  8. a c tuli, thanks for all this info. I didn’t know that this film was based on Wuthering Heights… I had also maybe forgotten that the music director was Sajjad Hussain. That’s why the songs I’ve heard are so good; I have to listen to the soundtrack more closely now. Some of Sajjad’s music is incredible. When I heard the songs from Dost (1944), I decided it could be my favorite Hindi soundtrack of all time.

  9. Music of Hulchul was composed by two music directors, Mohammad Shafi and Sajjad.

  10. Dear Mr Mr Jinx,
    You’re right that music of ‘Hulchul’ was composed by Sajjad Hussain and Mohammad Shafi. But Mohammad Shafi was associated more with the background music of this film than with composing songs. Mohammad Shafi independently composed music for some films of the 50s, mostly B and C grade ones. I remember that he composed some beautiful songs for ‘Anndata’, a film produced by Sheikh Mukhtar and directed by Tara Harish. The film starred Sheikh Mukhtar, Ajit, Veena, Mukri, N.A Ansari and others.

  11. Sitara Devi was the first female dancer to come on the indian silver screen with a bold step shedding away all the criticism from the society because cinema was regarded as sin and the females working in them were looked down. She actually is the trail blazer for the later dancers who entered and shined in filmdom. I have watched her dance from Roti and now the ballet from Hulchul, She portrays the dances in their original form. Great Soul. God almighty give her a best place in heaven.

  12. If you look at my latest post, you can see her in a few more films, too. :) I did pick two from Roti, but then others from Abroo (1943), Chand (1943), and Mother India (1957). Also, one of the videos and the picture at the top come from Najma, where she was very charming. (The scene is not exactly a full dance as in the others, but it is delightful.) And then there is the incredible snake dance that she did in Anjali (1957).

    And, yes, she was a great soul. Fortunately, her beauty and talent will live on for all to enjoy in films, video documents of many dances that she did later, and even a number of audio recordings.

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