Helen is an Indian film actress who appeared in many Hindi films. She was born on November 21, 1938 as Helen Jairag Richardson in Yangon, Burma. Besides acting, she was also notably remembered as a good dancer of Anglo-Burmans lineage. Helen is the step-mother of the renowned Bollywood actor,
since she got married to
in 1981. Her mother is a Burmese while his father is an Anglo-Indian who died during the World War II. They moved to Mumbai in year 1943 so they can desert from the life under the Japanese in Burma. They rambled alternately in the wilderness and different villages. They coped up through the help from other people since they have no money, food and clothes. Sometimes, they met the British soldiers who gave them transport, food and healed their bruises. As they finally reached Dibrugarh, Assam in India, their groups have been abridged to half. People died due to illness and some died due to starvation. Her mother got miscarriage in their way and admitted to a hospital in Dibrugarh. Their conditions became worst and they turned into a skeleton. After two months, they finally recovered and shifted to Calcutta. She decided to quit on her studies to support her family.
Dancer and actress, Cukoo helped her in finding jobs as a dancer. She was first introduced to the Bollywood industry in year 1951 when she became a chorus dancer in the Hindi film Awara by
and Bibhuti Mitra’s Shabistan. After that, she started to be a regular dancer and was starred as a solo dancer in films like
, Hoor-e-Arab and in Baarish. She got her big break in the 1958 film, Howrah Bridge by
, where he performed the popular Hindi song, Mera Naam Chin Chin Chu by
. Since that, he received many offers from 1960s to 1970s. Geeta Dutt and
usually sings for Helen during those times.
Helen also acted as Kitty Kelly in the box-office film, Gumnaam in 1965. It is a film adaptation of Agatha Christie’s ‘And Then There Were None’ where she received nomination for Best Supporting Actress at the Filmfare. She played as a rape victim in the Hindi film, Pagla Kahin Ka in 1970. Her husband, Salim Khan helped her in bagging roles in films that he co-scripting with
like Immaan Dharam in 1977, action film Don in 1978 and the Bollywood drama film Dostana in 1980. She also made a special appearance in the 1975 Hindi film, Sholay for the song, Mehbooba Mehbooba. In 1979, she also works for Mahesh Bhatt’s Hindi film, Lahu Ke Do Rang and played the role of Suzy, where she won the Best Supporting Actress Award at the Filmfare. She also received the Filmfare Best Supporting Actress Award in 1999.
She retired on doing films in year 1983 but she has guest appearance roles as Maria Braganza in the 1996 box-office musical drama film, Khamoshi: The Musical and as Miss Monica in another box-office musical film, Mohabbatein in year 2000. Helen also made a special appearances as Mrs. Rafilini, the mother of Sameer (played by Salman Khan) in the 1999 film, Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam and the 2006 film, Humko Deewana Kar Gaye. She was chosen to received the Padma Shri Awards together with
and Aishwarya Rai in 2009.
Helen also performed in a number of stage shows around London, Hong Kong and Paris. Indian writer, Jerry Pinto created a book entitled, ‘The Life and Times of an H-Bomb’ which is based on Helen’s journey all throughout. The book won the 2007’s National Film Award for Best Book on Cinema. She was also a jury in the dance reality show,
on Colors in 2009.