This week, I have finally been discovering the first great item dancer of Hindi cinema. I have seen her and been aware of her before, but I didn’t fully know who she was. But now it’s all clicked into place.
I guess that discovery started with my discovery of the identity of the dancers in my favorite scene from Ratan (1944). A while back, there was a discussion here of people trying to guess who the dancers were…
Everyone loved the male dancer, but no one seemed to realize at the time I posted this that he was the father in the Minoo/Mehmood clan, Mumtaz Ali. That fact showed up in YouTube comments, etc., pretty quickly. There was also one comment on YouTube that named the female dancer as Azurie. Admittedly, there have been disputes as to whether or not the dancer in other scenes up on YouTube was really Azurie, but until someone tells me otherwise, I’ll take the word of that one comment that she was the dancer in “O Janewala Balemwa.” One reason I believe this is because I read elsewhere that Azurie was a major influence on the woman whom I originally mistook as the first great item dancer; that is, Helen’s mentor, Cuckoo. This is mostly conjecture, but I think you can actually see that the dancer in “O Janewala Balemwa” was an influence on Cuckoo…
Recently, I also saw a picture of Azurie that popped up on the Vintage Era page of Facebook. (And if that isn’t enough to intrigue someone, what is?)
I also learned that Azurie was one of the great old female Jewish stars of Indian cinema that we’ve been talking a lot about lately. (So, what perfect timing it was to start learning about her! And by the way, there is a very good list of Jewish Bollywood stars in a discussion at the Jews of India Forum.) In terms of national origins, her mother was Indian and her father was German. That information can be found in a decent post over at the Cineplot Encyclopedia. It was there that I learned, also, that she migrated to Pakistan. She did not do this in 1947, but in 1960, somewhat like Rehana (who migrated to Pakistan in 1956). According to Cineplot, her first film might have been one called Nadira (like the name of another famous Jewish actress…), which was made in 1934. Her last film in India was Bahana, which was released in 1960, and she starred in other films in Pakistan, such as Jhoomar, which actually has a release date of 1959. She died in Pakistan in 1998, at the age of 90 or 91.
So, Azurie was clearly around for quite a while, too. I hope this means I can dig up some more scenes with her in them, whether in films or elsewhere, and other info, too. I would like her to continue to be a subject in this blog. Welcome, Azurie!