India Tribune is serializing profiles of top Bollywood sex symbols of all time. Bollywood sex symbols have been creating storms across India and worldwide. The list consists of female icons of Bollywood, who have impacted the history and changed the face of Bollywood.
Helen was born in Burma on October 21, 1939 as Helen Richardson, currently known as Helen Khan (Salman Khan’s stepmother). Hers is the ultimate rags-to-riches story. She’s an Anglo-Indian refugee from Burma, who as a child made a courageous trek to India with her mother to escape Burma’s occupation during World War II. While in India, her mother’s income as a nurse could not make ends meet so she quit school and entered Bollywood films as a backup dancer. She soon was recognized for her amazing dance talent and gained the title of Bollywood’s Queen of Item numbers. Every film she danced in was a mega success. Helen also acted, playing from modern to traditional-looking Indian rolesbecause of her Western as well as Indian looks. Some of her most memorable songs are Mera Naam Chin Chin Choo (Howdah Bridge, 1958) and Suku, Suku in Junglee (1961). With Asha Bhonsle’s help, Helen became immortal in chart busters like Piya Tu Ab To Aaja (Caravan, 1971), Oh Haseena Zulfonwali (Teesri Manzil, 1966) Aao Na Gale Lagao Na (Mere Jeevan Saathi, 1972) and the sizzling dance number Yeh Mera Dil Pyar Ka Diwana (Don, 1978). She also appeared in Sholay with her classic dance number in Mehbooba Mehbooba as the seductive gypsy dancer.
Why she’s sexy: Helen is sexy because she wore revealing skin tight outfits while she danced and always wore flesh toned body suits, for modesty. She never came across as vulgar or crass and exuded sex appeal without compromising herself. Helen always stood out from other Bollywood icons because of her toned figure, especially since most actresses were more voluptuous. In her time, she was a true femme fatale and is considered the Marilyn Monroe of India.
Her impact on Bollywood: In 1999, Helen won Filmfare’s Lifetime Achievement Award for her impact on Bollywood cinema. Even now, current Bollywood actresses like Sonali Bendre and Aishwarya Rai are performing famous dance numbers immortalized by her films.
Interesting fact: She’s appeared in 500 films, either acting or dancing in them.