42 comments on “Discussion, Info and Great Pics Related to the Earliest Appearances of Cuckooo (thanks to Mel!)

  1. Bawa, thank you for your observation. I think now we can be just a little more certain that it is, indeed, Cuckoo. :) (So far, everyone agrees that it looks like her.)

    AK, I saw your comment sooner (because I get them forwarded in e-mail), but I didn’t have time to go into the blog yet. Anyway, I was going to tell you that we need to ask Mel. He is the one who’s sent in all the information, pics, etc. This is mostly like a blog post guest-written by Mel…

    Mel, I’m glad you answered that. I was wondering, myself… By the way, I saw your comment earlier, too, but I assumed that WordPress had posted it without needing my approval, as it does with everyone else who has commented before. But it doesn’t do that with you, for some reason. Maybe it’s because of the French e-mail address? (Doesn’t make sense to me, but I can’t figure out any other reason…) Anyway, if you ever wonder why there is a delay in your comments appearing here, that is why.

  2. Hello Richard,

    There are several references to Cuckoo in the Filmindia issues preserved at MoMa. But I could not find anything new except some nice movie stills.

    Anyway, here is what I found:

    September 1946
    Q: “Who is this extra girl Cuckoo who has danced her way into millions of hearts in many pictures?”
    A: “She is an Anglo-Indian artiste who specializes in the hip-roll type of dancing.”

    February 1949
    Q: “Who is Cuckoo in real life, and why have you soft corner for her?”
    A: “I don’t know who she is but she dances beautifully on the screen. Isn’t that enough for a critic?”

    February, 1949
    Q: “From which school of dancing has our popular Cuckoo learnt her art?”
    A:”Cuckoo is born a graceful dancer. She has a kick in every curve. It is a pity, producers abuse her art.”

    May, 1949
    Andaz review: “Cuckoo plays a sympathetic role as Sheela. For an Anglo-Indian girl, she speaks her dialogue too well at times and quite indifferently sometimes. Her movements are as graceful as her dances. She is a future hope for a good role.”

    December 1949
    Q: “How is it that Cuckoo being an Anglo-Indian girl don’t displays her ‘Anglo’ parts?”
    A: “The Anglo parts excite the Indian censors and she has to keep them covered.”

    Maybe the answers lie in what is not said… Let’s take her name for instance:
    – Cuckoo is an English word and several film credits show us that Indians had difficulties to spell it correctly.
    – a cuckoo is mainly a bird, a bird that steal other bird’s nest. What an image when India was struggling for freedom!
    – She tried to change her name for Kishori (meaning “young girl”) in the middle of 1946, but it was too late as she was already famous as Cuckoo.

    This means to me that she did not understand precisely the implications of her screen name at the very beginning of her career. Only later on, she tried to correct it. So maybe she was not Anglo-indian, just ‘Anglo’. A kind of Katrina Kaif of the 40’s. And she had probably difficulties speaking Hindi. That’s why Baburao Patel, who was starting to “have soft corner for her”, compliments her on her dialogue delivery in Andaz, and why she did not succeed as an actor. It also explains that while being in extremely high demand between 1948 and 1954, we know nothing about her. Very much like Katrina Kaif today…

    But that’s only an hypothesis without anything to prove it.

  3. Thanks, Mel and Swarup, for the reference to the message from Jay… So, you both saw this, and I may have too, at some point. :)

    Mel, regarding the name “Cuckoo,” I have noticed quite a few references to the cuckoo by the Hindi word, “koyal” in old Indian film songs and maybe early Pakistani film songs too. In fact, it’s one of those Hindi words I learned from the old films that I probably never would have learned otherwise. As you might know, it is also the title of a major ’50s Pakistani film starring Noor Jehan (which has excellent music, though I have never watched it all the way through and have heard that the film, itself, isn’t so great). Anyway, so maybe it was not that unusual – or un-Indian – for Cuckoo to adopt the name at that time? The only thing unusual about it is that she used the English word for it.

    Regarding similarities to Katrina Kaif… OK… But because of my own unusual perspective, Cuckoo is much more familiar to me. :)

  4. Hello Richard,

    I had an interesting discussion with Tom these days. He is definitive on the fact that she was Anglo-Indian. Too bad for my speculation :)

    Anyway, the interesting part is that Moray was her married name. She would have been married, at least for a short period of time, with a choreographer of that name.

    I looked at that, and I found that there was indeed a dance director named K. S. Moray. He was not very successful in the film industry, but at least 10 films have him in the credits between 1945 and 1960. He’s listed under various names: “More”, “Morey” and “Moray”.

    K. S. Moray was also a dance teacher. Dr. Roshan Kumari (born in 1941), a famous kathak dancer, refers to him as being her first guru. Moreover, he’s cited in the Encyclopedia of Hindi Cinema, page 198, as “Professor More”: “(…)Trained classical dancers, such as Sitara Devi and later Gopi Kishen, and Western-style dancer, Azoorie kicked off the popularity of the classical dance form in Hindi films. These dancers were so popular that film posters highlighted “dances by Sitara Devi”. Dance masters such as Professor More often composed these elaborate stage dances.”
    The same “Professor” title appears in the credits of Jaal (1952): Prof. K. S. More

    Tom said that he was Hindu and not Anglo-Indian. I want to believe that because of the initials KS and the variations of his name in film credits. It is definitively not “Moore”.

    Having looked a several dozen film credits of that period, I would like to add that “Mor-something” is a very unusual name. There are only two other “More”, the most important one being G. V. More in the Art Direction department, active in 1954-1956.

    So the information of Cuckoo having been married at least for some time with a Hindu choreographer named K. S. Moray has 95% chances of being true.

  5. Mel, thanks for sending yet more interesting information here…

    Let me start off by saying that I know a little about Roshan Kumari, and I did see this information sometime before that she was a student of K.S. Moray. (I didn’t remember the name immediately, but I double-checked. There’s a nice bio of her put up by one of her students, here: http://muktajoshi.com/myguru.html ) It did not occur to me that K.S. Moray might have been Cuckoo’s husband. That’s very interesting, but why has it never been mentioned anywhere?

    Roshan Kumari’s mother was Zohrabai Ambalewali, who, as I mentioned before, sometimes did playback singing for Cuckoo (as you probably have noticed too)…so it all starts to fit together nicely here.

    But where did you get the birth date for Roshan Kumari? I haven’t seen that before. That means she would have been 12 years old or younger when she danced with Gopi Krishna in
    Parineeta
    (1953). I don’t think there’s any way that she could be 12 years old in that, even considering how mature children could be made to look in the dancing scenes in these old Hindi films. But anyway… :)

    I wrote a couple of posts about Roshan Kumari… This was the most extensive one:

    https://roughinhere.wordpress.com/2010/11/28/finally-a-little-more-info-about-roshan-kumari/

    A little later on, Cassidy aka Minai wrote a more comprehensive post about her here:

    http://cinemanrityagharana.blogspot.com/2012/12/film-classical-dances-of-roshan-kumari.html

    I didn’t realize that Sitara Devi and Azurie both trained with K.S. Moray, too (as did Gopi Krishna)…but that all makes sense. Still, regardless of his relative obscurity as a film choreographer, if he had that much influence, I don’t see how or why everybody could have kept a lid on his relationship to Cuckoo.

    It would be nice to see some confirmation of that… I’ll look into that more over the next couple of days (but if you couldn’t find it, I doubt I will).

  6. Richard,

    I did not look too seriously at Roshan Kumari as I was “hunting” for K.S. Moray :) Maybe I misunderstood the small part of her bio in Encyclopedia of Women in India, 1976 – Page 205 since I got it from Google Books:

    “ROSHAN KUMARI, Miss; Kathak Dancer,’ b Dec. 24, 1941; received training in Kathak from a number of great masters of the art; got her basic training in Kathak from K.S. Moray …”

    I’ve seen 1941 as her birth year in other books yesterday (using also google books, I did not read them), namely one from 1959 which did surprise me. But as I said, I was focusing on Cuckoo’s husband.

    I’ve to admit that she looks pretty old on the pictures at the bottom of the page you’re mentioning (http://muktajoshi.com/myguru.html).

    I did not figure-out for Zohrabai. This world was very small indeed :)

    On K. S. Moray mentioned anywhere, maybe the marriage did not last long? In fact, a great deal of my “research” was to be almost sure that there was only one choreographer named “More”, “Morey” etc. And it seems to be the case.

    On Azurie or Sitara Devi trained with K. S. Moray. The text from the encyclopedia of Hindi cinema is in fact very vague. In my opinion, it does just mention Professor More as a composer of sophisticated stage dances for the cinema. It is already very surprising since More/Moray/etc. was not the most famous choreographer of that period.

  7. Hello Richard,

    You’re absolutely right, Roshan Kumari cannot have been born in 1941. I looked at the videos on your page, and it’s clearly impossible. She is at least 5 years older than that.

  8. Yes it’s me :) I still have a list of 12 additional films to check before deciding to include them or not. Besides that, I think this list is quite complete.

  9. Hello Richard,

    On this “Mister Cuckoo” story, I don’t think I can find any new information with the sources I have access to. So for the record, here is *all* I found/guessed:

    – I came across 3 different and apparently independent sources for the name “Moray”:
    * urzung khan posted in October 2004 in the rec.music.indian.misc newsgroup: “… then her name should be spelled as Cuckoo. Her full name being Cuckoo Morey/Moray.”

    * The name “Moray” appeared at the end of 2009 in Cuckoo’s Cineplot bio. Some key information of this short biography come directly from Jerry Pinto’s book on Helen, but Jerry Pinto does not mention Cuckoo’s name.

    * Tom told me a few day ago that Cuckoo was married to a Hindu named More/Morei/Moray who worked as a choreographer in the Hindi film industry. He got this information from Indian friends.

    – Considering that Tom had great chances to be right, I looked at dance masters named More/Moray/etc. Here is the complete list I found (15 of them are on Youtube):
    * Panna (1944): Master More
    * Yateem (1945): Professor More
    * Shravan Kumar (1946): K. S. More
    * Bholi (1949): KS More
    * Darogaji (1949): More
    * Hum Log (1951): More
    * Nagina (1951): K. S. More
    * Shrimatiji (1952): Master More
    * Jaal (1952) Prof. K. S. More
    * Kundan (1955): Morey
    * Rangeen Raaten (1956): K. S. More
    * Ghar Sansar (1958): K. S. Moray
    * Police (1958): Morey
    * Dil Deke Dekho (1959): Morey
    * Love Marriage (1959): K. Morey
    * Jungle King (1959): Professor More
    * Rat Ke Rahi (1959): K. S. Morey
    * Deep Jalta Rahe (1959): K. S. Morey
    * Ghar Ki Laj (1960): K. S. More

    This list tells us that a certain K. S. More/Morey/Moray did actually work as a dance director in the Hindi film industry between 1944 and 1960. In my opinion, this list refers to the same man. The name variations can be explained by the Hindi to English transliteration and the fact that he was not so famous as a film choreographer. This gives also a hint on the fact he was most probably Hindu. The title “Professor” in Yateem, Jaal and Jungle King credits suggest he was also an important dance teacher.

    – Two renowned dancers said that Professor More/Moray was their kathak teacher/guru: Kamala Lakshman and Roshan Kumari. Interestingly, Kamala said in an August 2000 interview that she started learning kathak with him at the age of 3 and a half. This means that he was a dance teacher as early as 1938/1939 (she was born in 1934). This suggests that M. More/Moray was born probably around 1915 or before. Thus, he was significantly older than Cuckoo (she was born in 1928).

    – In the book “Kathak, Indian Classical Dance Art” page 60, there is the following intriguing mention: “Of the three brothers, Biharilal was the most gifted. Among his disciples were the famous artists: Keshav Rao More from Bombay, Hiralal of Jaipur Gharana,…,Pandit Sukhdev of Jaipur…, Mohanlal Benaraswale and Menakabai Belgaonkar.”. It’s difficult to guess the exact birth year of the last 4. I can just say that it was around 1910 (Menakabai was born in 1910). The last 3 were famous kathak dancers or singers (Sukhdev Prasad is mostly known as a singer) and articles on them can be found. So back to this mysterious Keshav Rao More from Bombay. Internet is completely silent on him. Could he be the one? Somebody trained in kathak but that did not become a dancer and choose instead to teach classical dance, and incidentally to compose some dances for the cinema? The man that would marry the young Cuckoo?

    Maybe I’m wrong, but I like that story :)

  10. Mel, you certainly have been thorough with your research! I don’t think I really have any hope of finding out more than you did. :) Now, I wonder who Tom’s mysterious sources were who gave him the information that inspired you to do such a thorough “Morey/Moray/More” search. (Tom, if you happen to read this, maybe you can tell us.) I might decide to send him an e-mail, myself. (I think it’s been a month or two since the last time I did.) I might also put a couple of questions on Facebook.

    I know that I sidetracked the discussion by going so much into the history of Roshan Kumari, though that is not where you were concentrating in your research. Sorry about that, but for some reason, I am very interested in learning more details about her past. Why would two sources have a completely wrong birthday for her? Well, it is pretty common for one source simply to copy another without much fact checking, and there is so much conflicting and/or wrong information out there regarding the biography of actors and dancers… About five or six years ago, I got wildly varying results when I tried to search for the actual birth date of Padmini and the date of her first film appearances. (I eventually got a good idea about those facts, but some are still in dispute. For instance, one person who is a reader of this blog disputes that the date on which so many bloggers, etc., observe Padmini’s birthday is actually the date when she was born.) Anyway, I don’t think that a lot of people who write biographies of these dancers really care that much about the accuracy of the details and that sort of thing.

    Regarding your list of K.S. More films… I wonder if any of those films included Cuckoo at all… (Several of the titles are familiar to me, but I clearly remember watching only one of them, Nagina, which definitely did not.)

    I am still puzzled as to why no one even casually mentioned K.S. More’s marriage to Cuckoo, if that did exist. For instance, if he was Kamala’s first teacher… She gives interviews very often. In fact, she gave an interview to Cassidy aka Minai and also Ragothaman (of the Bharatanatyam and the WWW blog) last spring, and I almost went along to that one, myself. (I bailed out at the last minute for various reasons.) Would it never have occurred to Kamala to say “Oh, you know, he was married to Cuckoo for a short time,” or something like that? Or for someone to say it? It just kind of puzzles me…

    But you know what else puzzles me? Are you saying that Jerry Pinto doesn’t actually mention the name “Cuckoo”? Did he simply say “the dancer who was Helen’s mentor and who gave her her first roles in films” or something like that?

    It seems to me that everybody who knows anything about Helen knows the name Cuckoo. (Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t seem to know anything about Cuckoo beyond her connection to Helen – which I find unfair, because I actually like Cuckoo much more than Helen these days. Oh, well…)

    Anyway, it can be awfully frustrating trying to do research on these kinds of details in Indian film/dance history… But you obviously have a lot of patience and resilience with it! :)

  11. Tom here,

    Nothing mysterious. I got it from Edwina Violette. Even though Mr. Moray helped choreograph a couple of dances in films in which she appeared, the information was given to her by her older sister or brother and they would have been a position to know. For example, the picture from the 1951 film Sagai in Mel’s Cuckoo post has Edwina’s older sister Marie on the left. To summarize, I was told Moray was Cuckoo’s married name and that her husband was a choreographer. I passed that on to Mel who had contacted me about something else entirely. Mel took the ball and ran with it and did a darned good job coming up with evidence to support the claim.

  12. Richard,

    Jerry Pinto says very little about Cuckoo and does not mention her last name. Besides 2 or 3 small other references in the book, all he says is on page 16 and luckily for those who don’t have the book, here is that page: http://books.google.fr/books?id=Ng_vVIcq5yQC&lpg=PP1&hl=fr&pg=PA16#v=onepage&q&f=false

    Obviously Jerry Pinto struggles to give relevant information on Helen childhood. He knows very little and what he has found is sometimes inaccurate or difficult to believe (like Helen being born a 14th of July which a too much of a coincidence for the daughter of a French father). Anyway, Jerry did not meet Helen and I assume he was not aware of her last name.

    If you compare carefully with Cuckoo’s Cineplot bio (here: http://cineplot.com/cuckoo/) you’ll see the similarities with Jerry’s text, like for instance, the 49 films in 5 years.

    I did not find any film choreographed by K. S. Moray that features Cuckoo. But it could be the case because the dance master is not always mentioned in the credits. For instance, he is rarely mentioned in Mehboob Khan film credits. So a common film is possible, but I don’t know which one.

    Did K. S. Moray mentor Cuckoo, teach her kathak or give her a role? I don’t know and it’s very frustrating. How did Cuckoo enter in the film industry? It is still a mystery. She was in almost 20% of all Hindi films in 1950 (30 out out 159), one out of five films! She was in only one film in 1957, at just 29. What happened?

    P.S. The Kamala Lakshman interview is here: http://www.narthaki.com/info/intervw/intrvw4.html. Professor More (a.k.a K. S. Moray) is mentioned in the first answer.

  13. Hi, Tom. I thought that Edwina might have been a source here… Though I didn’t know that she had an older sibling who had danced with Cuckoo. (Sagai had to be at least a few years before Edwina started in films, herself, right?). I also didn’t know that Edwina had danced in films that Mr. Moray helped to choreograph. Anyway, you are right that Mel did a good job at “coming up with evidence” based on the info that you gave him.

    Mel, you are right that there are too many frustrating gaps in information about Cuckoo. We do want to know more! Oh, well… It’s difficult to guess, exactly, how her rapid decline occurred. Although her one film in 1957 was followed by at least 10 films in 1958 (as shown in your list), so she did keep at it for a while longer… In 1958, she also performed in a couple of famous duets with Helen, and then did another one in 1959. The idea I’ve seen mentioned a few times is that Helen simply eclipsed Cuckoo and the fickle film industry ended up forgetting about Cuckoo entirely as other, very skilled dancers such as Vyjayanthimala became major attractions, too. (I think Padmini and Kamala and some others were better dancers than Vyjayanthimala, but Vyj maybe had a wider appeal in Bollywood than the others. And, by the way, she was also much better than Helen in all of those competitions. :) )

    It might very well be that fickle audiences just forgot about Cuckoo (I am amazed when I read about some of the other actresses – and singers also – whom I consider great (having “discovered” them in a very different time and place) who just ended in obscurity and poverty)… But, no, I don’t know if it all adds up. And as I’ve said, I do like Cuckoo much more than Helen now.

    By the way, thanks for the link to the Jerry Pinto book (no, I don’t have that one) and the Kamala interview, too. I think I might have seen that one. Of course, her reference to “Prof. More” occurs only once, in a list that she gave, so I didn’t remember it…

    In her interview with Minai/Cassidy (and Ragothaman), Kamala talked about one “guru” that did a lot of choreography for her films, Vazhuvoor Ramaiah Pillai… I get the impression that they did a lot of work together isolated from the other people in the films. Kamala, herself, doesn’t seem so fond of most of the people in the cinema or the way that the Indian cinema world treated her, either (another victim of its fickleness?), and apparently, she would rather talk about her history as a dancer than about movies and related gossip. Anyway, if you haven’t seen Cassidy’s blog post with that interview, here it is (though it certainly doesn’t contain any information about Cuckoo :) ) :

    http://cinemanrityagharana.blogspot.com/2014/05/meeting-and-interviewing-kamala-and.html

  14. Hello Richard,

    I’ve to confess that I can’t read hindi or any other Indian language. But tonight, I found a small detail that could be interesting: Prof. More is also credited as the dance director of the 1944 movie “Parbat Pe Apna Dera” by V. Shantaram. Luckily, the opening credit is like a Rosetta stone: names are written both in English and in Devanagari.

    So the dance master of this movie is :
    * “Prof. More” in English
    * मोरे in Devanagari (no mention of a title, just his name)

    Thanks to Google, we can hear his name pronounced in Hindi: https://translate.google.com/?hl=fr#hi/en/%E0%A4%AE%E0%A5%8B%E0%A4%B0%E0%A5%87 And Google transliterate मोरे as “Morey”. In Marathi, the name मोरे is transliterated as “More”, like the cricketer KS मोरे : Kiran Shankar More (sad coincidence that a famous sportsman has the same name than the one I’m searching…)

    That’s all. I told you it was a small detail :)

    P.S. You can now listen to what could be her full name in Hindi: https://translate.google.com/?hl=fr#hi/en/%E0%A4%95%E0%A5%81%E0%A4%95%E0%A5%81%20%E0%A4%AE%E0%A5%8B%E0%A4%B0%E0%A5%87

  15. Hi, Mel. Thanks for the comment. This is actually pretty interesting. The film, itself, looks interesting for a few reasons, including that it stars Madan Mohan when he was trying to be an actor, before he became a music director. (I am assuming it is the same Madan Mohan, since I know that he tried be an actor first – though I can’t find his acting credits in Wikipedia or anywhere else. I guess there is a chance that it was another Madan Mohan, but…).

    Of course, it’s very interesting to see that Cuckoo’s likely husband was a choreographer in this film. (Did he work on any later Shantaram films? It would be interesting to learn that he choreographed Sandhya!)

    I am also very glad that you told me about this Google “Traduction” link. I think I am going to use that a lot now!

    I say that I know a little Hindi, but my knowledge is pretty rudimentary, based on a big push that I made to learn it from a book and some CDs in late 2010 to 2012. (I also had a friend who said he would teach me Hindi free of charge, but that didn’t go beyond his obsessive focus on trying to get me to correctly pronounce the letters of the alphabet. That was in 2011, and I did learn some Devanagari, but now I’ve forgotten almost all of it.) Anyway, before that, I knew a dozen or so words based strictly on watching Hindi films with subtitles. (And I guess I could read them transliterated, more or less.) I was watching Hindi films constantly in 2008 and 2009, but outside of those dozen or less words, I knew no Hindi. And I sometimes watched the films without subtitles, too. This seemed to baffle people, especially Indian people when they asked me too many questions while I was taking a long time looking at the DVDs on the shelves of the stores in Jackson Heights. Oh, well, I think you understand. :)

  16. Hello Richard,

    I checked almost all V. Shantaram films, from 1932 to 1977, thanks to my new skill in identifying him in Devanagari :) But unfortunately, Prof. More is only credited in Parbat Pe Apna Dera. It looks like he was a kind of a freelancer during the studio era.

    Listening to the Google synthetic voice, I understand why there is there is this confusion about More/Morey/Moray. I’m even more convinced now that the list of films posted above refers to the same choreographer.

    (about hindi)
    Same for me, I know very few Hindi words and only trough films and songs. “Yeh Dil Deewana”, “Pyaar, Mohabbat, Ishq Aur Love”, that’s about it :) I’m exaggerating a bit, but thinking about it, It’s quite odd to know almost only words related to love…

  17. Mel, that’s too bad re. K.S. Moray’s absence in later Shantaram films. But there is still a connection if he, indeed, trained Gopi Krishna at some point. :)

    Regarding Hindi, yes, most of the first words I learned from the films had to do with love. But even before the love words, I think the first Hindi words I heard over and over in these movies was “zindagi” and “duniya.” (Actually, I knew the word “duniya” before I watched Hindi films. But people who don’t know the word beforehand will certainly pick it up from Hindi films if they pick up anything.)

    And answering Madhu… Well, I am glad you found it interesting when you skimmed it. But I hope that sometime soon, you will come back and read every single word! :)

  18. At the risk of being accused of tooting my own horn, I’ve discovered a film in which K.S. Moray did some of the choreography and Cuckoo had a dance, the 1951 film Pyar Ki Baten (or Pyar Ki Baaten or Pyar Ki Baatein). Could it have been the first (and maybe only) collaboration between the newly married couple? One can only hope.

  19. Tom, it’s a great discovery! The movie credits on the youtube SEPL infamous version is unreadable, yours is just fine. And Cuckoo’s dance is awesome. Thanks for this one.

    By the way, I checked all the movies I could find, but most of the Indian film production is sadly not available. In addition, the choreographer’s name is not always mentioned. KS Moray has been spotted in 21 movies to date, but he has probably participated to much more movies than that. So maybe, he was an important choreographer after all…

  20. I was wondering about Tom’s final sentence, “One can only hope.” Tom, does that mean you were not crazy about this? I think the hand and arm movements are lively and interesting (in a way that is generally unique to Indian dance), but the rest of her body movements here seem a little more limited than usual. It is different. It’s not one of her best dances, but I liked watching it.

    I had the pleasure yesterday of watching the “Devil Dance” from this film, starring Pran. Who would have thought that the best dance performance in a film would be led by Pran? Not surprisingly, though, he is delightfully evil in that. (I’m not going to post it here, because I want to keep the attention on Cuckoo. But I recommend going over to YouTube and looking at it.)

  21. ” Tom, does that mean you were not crazy about this?”

    I searched for the right word and didn’t come up with it. Thinking back I now believe I should have written, “One can only speculate.” because I can see how it could easily be interpreted as not wanting to see him provide the choreography for any more of her dances. I agree it’s not one of her very best dances but it does show why she was the original ‘Rubber Girl”, long before Jayshree T.

    I wrote you an email, Mel, but guess you didn’t get it. I’ve found K.S. Moray as the lead choreographer in another film, 1948’s Ghar Ki Izzat:

    http://www.nfaipune.nic.in/asp_files/searchLang&titledet.asp?srno=251

    And I agree, there are probably many more and also that he was an important figure as a film choreographer.

  22. Tom, thanks for clarifying that. And, yes, she certainly had rubber girl qualities in that dance!

    Regarding Ghar Ki Izzat… I actually was thinking of writing that film up when I borrowed it from the library a short while back (and I didn’t even know anything about the K.S. Moray connection at that time). It’s too bad that the film kept freezing in my computer… Though I did have a scene from it in my image header for a while…

  23. Tom, I did not receive your email :-( K.S. Moray was able to make Mumtaz Shanti dance in this movie, and she was not as bad as one could think…

    Being credited in a Mumtaz Shanti/Dilip Kumar starrer gives another indication that he was an important choreographer at that time. Besides, Ghar Ki Izzat is his 3rd film found so far directed by Ram Daryani. It would be interesting to find out who was the dance director of Doosri Shaadi (1947), I bet it is our KS Moray :)

  24. Another one with both KS Moray and Cuckoo: Sarai Ke Bahar (1947) He was credited as the dance director in an ad published in the September 1946 issue of Filmindia (https://archive.org/stream/filmindia194814unse#page/n645/mode/2up). Cuckoo was probably added to the cast later on, before the film release April 18, 1947.

    Interestingly, very few dance directors were credited in film ads. KS Moray was one of them. Azurie was another one, making me think she did some of her dance compositions herself.

  25. Hello Richard,

    I may have found a (bad quality) picture of the mysterious Cuckoo’s husband. Here it is: http://ahp.li/ff4ffa765a2f78681d85.jpg. It comes from this page of the July 1943 issue of Filmindia: https://archive.org/stream/filmindia194309unse/#page/n223/mode/2up

    There are several reasons that make me think he is the Keshavrao More that I was looking for but I don’t want to bother you with details. And I’ve to admit I don’t have clear evidences.

    Anyway, if he is the man, this means that he most probably launched Cuckoo’s career.

  26. Hi, Mel. Thanks for the pic of K. Moray/More. It’s hard to believe it’s been more than a year since your last comment on this post (and close to a year since your last on the Cuckoo birthday post). It feels as though the conversation never stopped!

    I’d be happy to see more details; it wouldn’t be a bother…

    In fact, I was wondering about something…

    If, as you say, K.S, Moray launched Cuckoo’s career, do you think he was her husband or they were romantically involved before he started choreographing her and before her first film appearances?

    I was thinking, it might have been more like a V. Shantaram situation – that is, she had worked a little already and he fell for her and wanted to marry her after he had started directing her dances.

    I guess it’s a small point of gossip, but it is another thing to be curious about.

  27. Hello Richard,

    A few weeks ago, I was in Mumbai, 20 meters away from Helen’s apartment and I did not have the courage to knock at her door to find out about Cuckoo :( Hence, I thought it was the end of this “hunt”. As a matter of fact, I was browsing this Filmindia issue searching for information on Patience Cooper.

    Anyway, back to Mr. More. You’ll see, it all about conjectures and hints, no evidence:
    The oldest reference to him I found so far was as a dance master in Diamond Queen (1940), under the name of Keshavrao More. This Kesharvrao first name is interesting because it is the same as the one used in the book “Kathak, Indian Classical Dance Art”. I conjectured that the man from the book was born around 1915. So he would be around 25 in 1940, which matches with a dance master career beginning with Diamond Queen.

    At the same time, dance masters start their career very often (always?) dancing in movies. So it seemed logical to see him in a movie at the beginning of his career, around 1940. Of course, as almost all dancers, when credited, they are credited at the end of the cast. So I thought that around 1940, there would be a movie with him credited as an obscure character.

    Then, when I looked at movies credits (past to present), I never saw a More in the cast. This makes me think that this name is very uncommon. Therefore, if I find one, I should pay attention :)

    Then it comes to this ad of Prem Sangeet (1943). For the 1st time I see a More in the cast (with a picture!). Interestingly, he is credited at the very bottom of the cast, making me think he could be a dancer. When I look at the picture, the man is around 25 years old, which matches with the K.S. More I’m expecting. And contrary to most of other characters in this ad, he’s not disguised making me think he’s not an actor.

    Even more interestingly, this movie is from Shalimar Pictures, and guess what: the next movie from this studio is Mun-Ki-Jeet, one of the first (if not the 1st) movie where Cuckoo danced. This is an extraordinary coincidence.

    That’s it. The picture is about a man that has the right name, the right age and who is credited at the right position in a movie that makes sense. If it’s not him, which is very possible, what a coincidence!

  28. All very interesting, Mel. It looks as though you’ve done admirable research!

    But who would ever expect you to knock on Helen’s door?

    (“Knock, knock, knockin’ on Helen’s door…”.)

  29. Hi,
    I just stumbled on this after a random Google search for “Keshav More” “Keshav Moray.” My father, who was born in 1934, had occasionally told us about a relative or acquaintance who was a dance choreographer for Hind cinema and who would sometimes demonstrate his dance steps at community/family events; my dad passed away but a recent conversation with his only living sibling (born in 1937) yielded the name “Keshav More”. My uncle also recalls walking with him in Khar once (where my family has lived since 1938) and Gopi Krishna touching his feet when they encountered him on the street. My uncle says he was a bit too fond of alcohol and lost several cars after going into debt. Now that I see this speculation about a possible Anglo wife, I’ll try to call my uncle and find out more.

  30. Thank you for that information, Jaya. And sorry for the late reply – but now I am happy to reply to you on Cuckoo’s birthday! I am definitely looking forward to hearing more information about Keshav Moray. The part where you said, “My uncle says he was a bit too fond of alcohol and lost several cars after going into debt” seems to make a lot of sense – I think that would fit very well into this Cuckoo story. :)

  31. I’m fascinated. I looked at some of her videos you’ve posted here, and she seems marvelous. I’ll ask more family members and friends in Khar if they know more about K.S. Moray/More and her.

  32. Well, many thanks – for the nice words about the videos (glad you like them!) and for seeking out that information. It would be great to hear more about that!

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