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For a shake n shimmy

In tune - Helen  

She confesses to not being much of a talker. Helen, who danced her way into our hearts when she sang “Mera Naam Chin Chin Choo” in Shakti Samanta’s Howrah Bridge (1958), will share the stage with actor Tanuja as part of Titan Raga The Rendezvous Bangalore Season 3 this weekend. Like Zeenat Aman (she was part of Rendezvous last year), Helen also doesn’t set much store for nostalgia. “Both of us are Scorpios,” she says over the phone. “I suppose we have some common traits. I believe in the Now.”

In March, Helen had done Rendezvous in Chennai with Sharmila Tagore and the super suave Kabir Bedi hosting. “I was happy to do the show in Chennai. A live audience is different from one in a cinema theatre. The laughter, the questions, the applause and the connect was wonderful. Though I haven’t worked with Kabir, I know him and we got on very well.”

Commenting that she has worked in many south Indian films—“Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam,” Helen said she has come often for shooting in the south. “It was a long time ago, we used to shoot in the day and shop in the evening. I like south Indian food — the pepper water, what you call rasam, upma, pongal…”

Ask Helen how it feels to be held up as the gold standard for dance and she candidly says, “I don’t understand how that has come about! We used to be graceful, there was a lot of rehearsal. Nowadays dancing is a drill. There are six to seven steps that are repeated. But the more the merrier, if that is what people want, it is fine by me.” In these days specialists to design the look of a film, it comes as a surprise that Helen created her costumes. “Except when Bhanu Athaiya was doing costumes,” she clarifies. “I shopped in London, Paris and New York for the coloured contact lenses, the wigs, the sequins, the plumes, feathers, eye lashes…”

The 77-year-old says she cannot remember being asked to design her look. “It just happened. I worked it out intuitively. It is a gift from above. If I was doing a gypsy dance, there would be beads and frills, if it was a cabaret there would be the blonde wig, and coloured contact lenses. I suppose I was a trailblazer.” Helen says she watched shows at Moulin Rouge and Crazy Horse in Paris. “They were spectacular.”

Helen and Tanuja will be in town to share their Bollywood stories with Kabir Bedi and their fans as part of Titan Raga The Rendezvous Bangalore Season 3. The show is on April 9, at 6 p.m. at Chowdiah Memorial Hall. Tickets for Rs. 549, Rs. 800, Rs. 1,100, Rs. 1,500, Rs. 2,000 and Rs. 2,500 are available online at www.bookmyshow.com. Call 7899657130 / 9845447130.


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Printable version | Oct 18, 2021 9:38:27 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/events/mera-naam-chin-chin-chu/article8441496.ece

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