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Helen’s Interview With Arbaaz Khan Is Revealing



Helen’s Interview With Arbaaz Khan

Once  we get over the  normal rush of  gush, Arbaaz Khan’s interview  with  yesteryear’s dancing  queen  Helen in The Invincibles series,is  remarkably revealing.

Helen looked radiant and  rather reluctant to reveal  too much about her past. Arbaaz did a good job of making her feel comfortable, treating her  with a filial mix of   kid’s gloves and wide-eyed wonder,  as she spoke  of her humble beginnings, about trudging to  India from Burmah after the last flight out during political unrest was  bombed  by the Chinese.

In India Helen learnt Manipuri  at  the age  of  11. That was  the only dance form she ever  mastered. The rest was  all….and she  looked upwards  at the  studio ceiling.

I wish Arbaaz  had probed her more on her iconic dances.  She spoke briefly about the cabaret  Aa jaan-e-jaan in the film Inteqaam being inspired by the club-floor performances  at the famous Crazy Horse nightclub in  Paris(now defunct).Or why she singled  out choreographer  P L Raj as  the hardest taskmaster.

Ironically most of Helen’s songs were sung by Asha Bhosle. But  Aa jaan-e-jaan  was rendered by Lata Mangeshkar.

She  spoke about  Oh Haseena  zulfonwali in Teesri Manzil  and how Shammi Kapoor was her best dance partner. What about the other  iconic dance number Piya tu abb toh aaja? No mention of this. However she  did mention  doing  a bar desktop cabaret in one  take in Jewel Thief without naming the song. That  was  Baithe ho kyon dil ke paas.

Helen spoke of her first  break as a dancer in the Dev Anand-Nutan starrer Baarish. She mentioned how Cuckoo , the  Helen before Helen in Hindi films, helped her  get work , introduced her to  various producers . What Helen didn’t mention  was that Cuckoo, the dancer who ruled cinema  prior to Helen, lost her career after  Helen came in.

There  was of course  a  whole section devoted  to  the, ahem, family matter: Helen  is  married Arbaaz’s  father  Salim Khan. I must say Arbaaz  handled it like  a pro. There was no awkwardness  between Helen and her  stepson as  she  revealed how  she met and  fell in love with Salim Khan, and how much pain she  must have caused  Arbaaz’s  mother.

Arbaaz  brushed off  Helen’s misgivings with  admirable aplomb. I must say this  a unique  interview for its  unprecedented  potentially awkward ties  between the interviewer  and  the interviewee rendered  into a  smooth  conversation between two mature  non-judgemental  individuals.

The most glorious moment in the  conversation:  when Helen folded her hands  and thanked  Arbaaz  and his family for  having her,  for  making her a Khan.

If only other  awkward relations were  handled with  such dignity , we wouldn’t have so much public mudslinging that we see nowadays.

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