17 comments on “Outstanding Songs from Mayur Pankh (1954)

  1. I looked for Mayur Pankh at Induna, it is out of stock. These are awesome songs. Thank you Richard.

    Helen looks so cute. I am amazed you managed to identify her.

  2. You’re welcome, Ava. Maybe sometime soon when I’m back in NYC, I’ll see if they have this in the stores at all.

    BTW, I didn’t manage to identify Helen all on my own. :) For one thing, she’s in the cast credits on the YouTube site, and she is identified in comments to that post as well. Also, I vaguely recall that the guy whose DVDs you’ve been subtitling identified her in that particular song sometime ago. (I think it’s becoming ever-clearer lately how many of “my” discoveries go back to Tom. :) )

  3. Now that you have explained how you identified her, I don’t have to ask, because I meant to ask that, while watching the clip. :-D
    Really a very very young Helen with no sign of the icon she became.
    A very young Kishore Sahu too (the man with the gori).

    Thanks Richard, these are real gems.

  4. Hi Richard. Glad you’re highlighting some of the songs from this film especially Lata’s Mohabbat Ki Daastaan that was picturizesd on a very young Helen. Of course, this was very early in her career and before Helen became the Helen we all know and love. :) Its also the very first appearance of Helen in color. Her participation in this film was first written about by Jerry Pinto in his book about Helen in 2006.

    Its nice to see Helen’s mentor Cuckoo perform in third clip you posted. And I have to agree that the songs by the great Shankar-Jaikishan are really good.

    Although its still unavailable on DVD, webmmallindia @ http://www.webmallindia.com/buy_dvd_online-movie-MAYUR+PANKH-p-14489.html has a VCD copy for $3.99.

  5. Thank you for the extra info, Mister Naidu, and I am glad everyone appreciates the Helen clip and the Cuckoo clip!

    I’ve got to admit, though, the song that really inspired me to post about this film was the first one :) , because of that lovely dance by the Vajifdar Sisters, and because of the things that I then learned about Shirin Vajifdar, an interesting dancer who was married to a em>very interesting writer.

    Well, as I said, it certainly seems like a film worth looking for, for a variety of reasons – though as with quite a few other movies, I’d hate to give up hope of someday seeing a DVD version with subtitles. :)

  6. Richard,

    The first song “Yeh barkha bahaar” is by Asha and Lata, not by Geeta and Lata. The film is erroneously credit as Helen’s debut as a solo dancer, but she already appeared as a solo dancer 1 year earlier in Alif Laila (1953).

  7. Thank you, Mr. Jinx. I got “Geeta and Lata” from some source somewhere, but I will correct it now. I did know that Helen’s solo debut was in Alif Laila, and I have seen her in that film as well (just scenes, not the whole film yet).

  8. Hi Richard,
    The first video that you have put up -Yeh Barkha Bahar – does feature the Vajifdar sisters who broke the mould of the anglicised Parsi community by expressing their love for Indian music and dance. The dancer on the left with a red dupatta is in fact Roshan Vajifdar-Ghosh (my aunt) who married Dr Ghosh and on the right Khurshid Vajifdar-Chavda (my mother) who married artist Shiavax Chavda. Shirin Vajifdar (who’s married to Mulk Raj Anand) is not in this video, though people would often mix Khurshid and Shirin up as they looked quite similar.
    The Vajifdar sisters had trained in Kathak from Sohanlal, BharatNatyam from Ram Gopal, Manipuri from Bipin Sinha and Kathakali and Mohini-attam from Guru Krishna Kutty, very unusual for today’s times where the dancer only trains extensively in 1 or 2 styles.
    Roshan Vajifdar was a national scholar in BharatNatyam and studied in Madras (Chennai) for two years intensively and also learnt Sanskrit and Tamil for her research. Roshan was painted frequently in life-sized portraits by artist Roerich, (husband of actress Devika Rani) in Bangalore where she was studying dance. Shirin and Khurshid did the summer course at Almora – Uday Shankar’s school and at Madam Menka’s school in Khandala where Shirin studied intensively for 2 years. Shirin also studied the Abhinaya Darpanam and Sanskrit shlokas from Guru Parvati Kumar. They had learnt BharatNatyam from Guru Chinaiya Pillai in Tanjore in 1947. Khurshid had also studied BharatNatyam from Guru Ramini in Mumbai. Their dance presentations were much appreciated not only for the finesse of their dance movements and beauty of the choreographed compositions but also for the exotic and ethnic jewellery and costumes that Shirin designed with her eye for detail and superb colour combinations. Shirin was sent in the entourage of artistes representing India with Indrani Rehman and others to China. Roshan represented India in East Germany and Mongolia. Khurshid could not accompany them as she was pregnant with her second child.
    They were invited to perform before many heads of states for eg Shah of Iran with his first wife Soraiya and Jewaharlal Nehru. Also gave many shows on the ship Battori on which they sailed to London. They performed extensively in India and Mumbai in the Sea Greens hotel, Taj Mahal Hotel, Eros and Regal theatres. Shirin also gave many lectures/demonstrations in Haryana and Punjab universities.

    The dance director Krishnan Kutty of Mayur Pankh was incidentally their Kathakali teacher and was also part of their troupe especially when they toured in London in 1952. He was the male lead in their ballets ‘The Transposed Heads’ the English commentary from the adapted version by Dr Mulk Raj Anand and ‘The Birth Of Urvashi’.

    Apart from their Classical training, they also learnt a lot of folk dances to intersperse their Classical performances with and to teach numerous generations of children who came to learn under them at their dance academies.

  9. Jeroo, thank you for writing in with these corrections and all this information about your mother and your aunt. It’s always very rewarding when actual relatives of the dancers I discuss here find the time to write in with information that simply can’t be found or confirmed through the usual searches online. I may have more comments regarding all the info that you sent, but I just wanted to acknowledge and say thanks for now. Much appreciated!

  10. Thanks Richard for your prompt reply. My mother Khurshid Vajifdar Chavda seems to recollect that they had danced another Kathak item in the movie; apart from the one that we’ve just seen. Would you be able to help us trace that? Or if you could suggest which source we can approach.
    Thank you so much for reviving these old movie songs of the golden era which today’s generation would never view otherwise, including the progeny of the performers. This is a valuable piece of family history, apart from celluloid history.
    My mother recollects that the conditions were appaling during the shoot of the movie. They had to report by 6am and the studios weren’t air-conditioned at that time and make-up was thick and waxy and stars would only arrive at 3 and 4pm in the afternoon and the shoot would go on till 9pm. So it was extremely exhausting for the supporting actors and that’s one of the main reasons that Khurshid, Shirin and Roshan didn’t accept other film roles that were offered after the success of this movie. Plus it took them a long time to get the remuneration that was owed to them.

  11. Jerroo: Finally, the mystery is solved! Always wondered which is which in Mayurpankh. If you email me your address I can send you a copy of Mayurpankh DVD.

  12. Hi Richard,

    Thanks for sharing these superb videos. I was learning from Shirin Vajifdar in Mumbai as a child for almost 8/10 years. She was an excellent teacher and a dance critic, always believed in perfection. I was fortunate to know many great dancers of that time through her. She did mentioned about this film and since then I have been searching for a Mayur Pankh DVD. I know Khurshid Vajifdar also a great dancer and very knowledgeable and also her daughter Jeroo, who is also an accomplished dancer.
    Thanks Jeroo for sharing such a valuable family history. It has brought back those beautiful bygone days.

  13. It’s awesome to rekindle childhood memories and I thank you for t.he ‘Mayur Pank’ post. Having learnt Bharat Natyam briefly in school, I joined Shirin Vajidar’s dance school, ‘Nritya Manjari’, on hearing the dancing bells every Saturday morning from my home. She was a fabulous teacher and though I was an older pupil (I was in University) acknowledged my earnestness and shared her love for dance by encouraging me to attend her classes held at her home in Cuffe Parade and at Marine Drive. Jeroo Chavda and her mother Khurshid Chavda used to teach us dance as well, ocassionally; lessons included a wide repetoire of Bharat Natyam, Kathak and the most wonderful Folk Dances. I continued learning dance for 4-5 years looking forward to those lessons rain or shine! Those were some of the best, most memorable moments of my life. I left Bombay in 1988 and did not return. Thus,I am tremedously grateful for the opportunity to see this movie clip and hear from Jeroo Chavda herself. Thank you!

  14. I thank you so very much for posting the dance of the Vajifdar sisters. One of them, Roshan was my daughter’s dance teacher in Kodaikanal for 7 years at KIS, and she is my close spiritual friend. I love her so much , we spend time together and I feel privileged to know her, it is truly an honor to be in her company and take her time . I live in Kodaikanal only 5 kms from her house. Watching her dance is a dream for me. Thanks again.

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