A nice find, as I’m sure some of you out there will agree…
Some people may have already noticed the comment that appeared last night on one of my old posts about the dance duo Sai-Subbulaxmi. Madhuram Babai wrote:
APLAM SAPLAM dancer sai of sai-subbulaxmi combo died on 26 JAN 2010 due to breast cancer. She is my sister-in-law. She is survived by a son Rakshagan, daughter-in-law and two grand daughters.
Madhuram, thank you once again for writing in to tell us about the sad death of Sai, of the wonderful dance team, Sai-Subbulaxmi.
As I’ve said before, it has been difficult to find information about them… They did some of the greatest dances that appeared on film between the mid ’50s and mid ’60s, and they deserve to be well remembered.
Born Feb. 18, 1926…
Good news found in India Times:
Martin Scorsese, the director of American classics Mean Streets, Raging Bull, Taxi Driver and Good Fellas, and one of the founding members of World Cinema Foundation dedicated to the preservation and restoration of film classics, has decided to take up the cause of Uday Shankar’s dance-ballet on celluloid, Kalpana.
. . .
There’s no full and complete print of Kalpana available in India.But now the World Film Foundation is going to take over the job of making Kalpana viewable across the world. Actor-director Satish Kaushik, who recently met Scorsese in Dubai, confirmed, “Martin Scorsese has definite plans of restoring Uday Shankar’s Kalpana. I saw The Mummy, a 1969 Egyptian film that has been restored. It was fantastic work. Scorsese said he was keenly interested in restoring Kalpana and his company, World Cinema Foundation, was on the job.”
I know that a lot of people out there will be happy to see the result. Since I posted about Uday Shankar’s Kalpana fifteen months ago, I’ve continued to receive enthusiastic comments about this film, right up to the present month.
Of course, I have wanted to see this film not only because it is a great work by the famous Uday Shankar, but also because it was the debut film for Padmini. I have also noticed that it appears to be the first film for Usha Kiran too.
I hope we’ll get to see the restored Kalpana soon!
I’ve played this one many times from the DVD in the past day. I guess part of the reason is that I wanted to enjoy this song from the DVD as many times as possible because I didn’t know whether I could start the DVD up again since it took so many tries the first time with this crappy fRIENDS disc. (I’ve had this fRIENDS problem before on other computers – so I don’t think you can blame the computer. And there are so many other problems with this DVD (even more so than in the last copy I had, which I brought back to the store to exchange for this one)… Oh, well, it’s a good thing I found clips of most of the songs on YouTube, though they’re far from perfect too.) Anyway, this is such a sweet-sounding song, with the beautiful voices of Shamshad Begum and Lata Mangeshkar, music direction by C. Ramchandra…that it’s also just another one of those tunes I am naturally inclined to play over and over again, regardless of the circumstances. The film, Patanga, is delightful too (a bit on the light side, maybe, but that’s actually refreshing for a ’40s film), and the soundtrack is one of my favorites of all time. Actually, I could play most of the songs from this movie over and over again.
P.S. I promise, I will not anguish over whether there was any way I could have fit Nigar Sultana on the beauties list!
Finally, after much vacillation, I have decided to put together a ten greatest beauties list, somewhat inspired by Dustedoff’s list from several months ago. Some of my selections here are different from what they might have been months ago, but this is how I see the list today, when I am finally going through with it.
By the way, my list is based on actresses prominent from the mid ’40s to early ’60s. So, no need to wonder why I haven’t added your favoite actress from the late ’60s or early ’70s, etc.
If you have strong feelings one way or the other about what I’ve posted, feel free to comment, but please do read the text first (most of which I added several hours after posting the original list).
Even before I got to type promised further text, I got a strong opposing comment about Sandhya. Yet, she has been named as a beauty by a number of people too. Of couse she was not a classic beauty, but I find her very visually compelling, and not in a negtaive way. (Others, I know, feel differently.) I like her uniqueness and creativity, which apply as much to her appearance sometimes as to her dancing. She was also a very underrated actress (I’m sure of that now), which is all the more reason to give her a place on the list.
9. Minoo Mumtaz
Minoo wasn’t a classic beauty either. But she was so lively and cute. (Where is she today? Is she still alive? No one seems to know.)
Suraiya was very pretty in her heyday, and millions of people knew it, too.
I actually think Vyjayanthimala looks prettier in some of her later movies. But I tend to like her mid-to-late ’50s movies the most, and she was also quite pretty in them. I think she was very striking as a peacock, although I like Sandhya’s peacock dance even more.
6. Waheeda Rehman
Great beauty and a wonderful actress – as everybody knows!
Hey, she’s on my list, OK? So if you need to make her number one, do it on your own list. Still, I agree Madhubala was very pretty and lovable and a fine actress. And considering the date that I’m typing this, a happy birthday to her too!
But in the movie Barsaat Ki Raat, I thought Shyama was more beautiful than Madhubala, and her character was more interesting. Why did the Bharat Bhushan character choose the Madhubala character instead? Why/how could both these beautiful women be so hopelessly in love with someone who looked like Bharat Bhushan? I did enjoy this movie, even if some things in it didn’t make much sense to me.
3. Noor Jehan
No picture I can come up with can adequately convey the gorgeousness of Noor’s screen presence in the ’40s and ’50s. (And, by the way, though she did put on a bit too much weight and makup, I do find her to be quite cute in performance clips from a few decades beyond that.) I suppose that with Noor, the influence on my ears affects the influence on my eyes. On the other hand, if I were ranking beauties according to the overall effect as a performer and what I feel about the performer, Noor could possibly be number one, or at least tied at number one. I adore Noor. But I’ll leave her here at number 3.
2. Meena Kumari
Meena was a stunning beauty in the ’50s and part of the ’60s. Illness and alcohol did some damage later on, but even in her much-discussed decline, she was still usually a very nice sight on screen. And she was a fantastic actress.
I’ve written enough about Padmini. Many will agree with me that she was one of the great beauties; to me, she was the greatest. Certainly, her dancing influenced that effect, but she still was quite a beauty just standing still. And she had a lovely screen presence. I’m happy to proclaim Padmini as the greatest Bollywood beauty of all!
Dance by the great Kamala Lakshman:
A better, more complete copy of the famous Helen Dance:
Adorable Jamuna (and the beautiful singing voice of P. Susheela):
NTR loses his head:
There was one song that this particularly brought to my mind, but I’m sure there could be a few. I know that Naheed Akhtar became a pretty big playback singer a bit later on, but since that happened in Pakistan well after the partition, I guess she never had a chance to sing for O.P. Nayyar.