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Published on 05 Dec 2012 | over 4 years ago

Helen Jairag Richardson is an Indian film actress and dancer of Anglo-Burmese descent, working in Hindi bollywood films. She was born on November 21, 1939 in Burma to an Anglo-Indian father and Burmese mother. She has a brother Roger and a sister Jennifer. Her father died during the Second World War. The family migrated to Mumbaiin 1943 in order to escape the Japanese occupation of Burma. Helen had to quit her schooling to support her family because her mother's salary as a nurse was not enough to feed a family of four. In a documentary called 'Queen of the Nautch girls', Helen said she was 17 yrs old in 1957 when she got her first big break in Howrah Bridge.

Helen was introduced to Bollywood when a family friend, an actress known as Cukoo, helped her find jobs as a chorus dancer in the films Shabistan and Awaara (1951). Helen got her break in 1958 when she performed the song "Mera Naam Chin Chin Chu" in Shakti Samanta's film,Howrah Bridge, which was sung by Geeta Dutt. After that, offers started pouring in throughout the 1960s and 1970s. During her initial career, Geeta Dutt sang many songs for her. The Bollywood playback singer Asha Bhoslealso frequently sang for Helen, particularly during the 1960s and the early 70's. She was nominated for the Filmfare best supporting actress award in 1965 for her role in Gumnaam.

Writer Salim Khan helped her get roles in some of the films he was co-scripting with Javed Akhtar: Imaam Dharam,Don, Dostana, and Sholay. This was followed by a role in Mahesh Bhatt's film Lahu Ke Do Rang (1979), for which she won a Filmfare Best Supporting Actress Award. In 1999 Helen was given India's Filmfare lifetime achievement award.Helen officially retired from movies in 1983, but she has since then appeared in a few guest roles such asKhamoshi: The Musical (1996) and Mohabbatein (2000). She also made a special appearance as the mother of real-life step-son Salman Khan's character in Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam. Helen was selected for the Padma Shri awards of 2009 along with Aishwarya Raiand Akshay Kumar.

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