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Helen: The Life and Times of A Bollywood H-Bomb

Helen: The Life and Times of A Bollywood H-Bomb

Jerry Pinto
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Overview

It is now over two decades since the Hindi-film heroine drove the vamp into extinction, and even longer since the silver screen was ignited by the true Bollywood version of a cabaret. Yet, Helen – nicknamed ‘H-Bomb’ at the height of her career – continues to rule the popular imagination. Improbably, for a dancer and a vamp she has become an icon.

Jerry Pinto’s gloriously readable book is a study of the phenomenon that was Helen: Why did a refugee of French-Burmese parentage succeed as wildly as she did in mainstream Indian cinema? How could otherwise conservative families sit through, and even enjoy, her ‘cabarets’? What made Helen ‘the desire that you need not be embarrassed about feeling’? How did she manage the unimaginable: vamp three generations of men on screen?

Equally, the book is a brilliantly witty and provocative examination of middle-class Indian morality; the politics of religion, gender and sexuality in popular culture; and the importance of the song, the item number and the wayward woman in Hindi cinema.

Imprint: Penguin Portfolio

Published: Mar/2006

ISBN: 9780143031246

Length : 264 Pages

Helen: The Life and Times of A Bollywood H-Bomb

Jerry Pinto
Overview

It is now over two decades since the Hindi-film heroine drove the vamp into extinction, and even longer since the silver screen was ignited by the true Bollywood version of a cabaret. Yet, Helen – nicknamed ‘H-Bomb’ at the height of her career – continues to rule the popular imagination. Improbably, for a dancer and a vamp she has become an icon.

Jerry Pinto’s gloriously readable book is a study of the phenomenon that was Helen: Why did a refugee of French-Burmese parentage succeed as wildly as she did in mainstream Indian cinema? How could otherwise conservative families sit through, and even enjoy, her ‘cabarets’? What made Helen ‘the desire that you need not be embarrassed about feeling’? How did she manage the unimaginable: vamp three generations of men on screen?

Equally, the book is a brilliantly witty and provocative examination of middle-class Indian morality; the politics of religion, gender and sexuality in popular culture; and the importance of the song, the item number and the wayward woman in Hindi cinema.

Select Preferred Format

Jerry Pinto

Jerry Pinto is a poet and journalist based in Mumbai. His published works include Surviving Women (2000) and a collection of poetry, Asylum (2004). He has also co-edited Bombay, Meri Jaan: Writings on Mumbai with Naresh Fernandes and Confronting Love: Poems with Arundhathi Subramaniam.

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