Fragrance of Yesteryears: Devika Rani

After a long time, our feature article Fragrance of Yesteryears, the space dedicated to the actors and actresses of the Golden Era, is back!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012 | 8:53:55 PM IST (+05:30 GMT)
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After a long time, our feature article Fragrance of Yesteryears, the space dedicated to the actors and actresses of the Golden Era, is back! And this time, we bring to you one of the most iconic heroines from the 1930s and 40s.

We're talking about none other than Devika Rani Chaudhary Roerich, more popularly known as Devika Rani. The actress was born on March 30, 1908 and was the grandniece of the famous poet, Shri Rabindranath Tagore. She moved to London to study at the Royal Academy of Music where she met screenwriter Niranjan Pal, who later wrote the scripts for many of her successes. In 1929, she married an Indian actor and producer, Himanshu Rai.

Devika Rani proved herself to be a great actress right from her debut movie Karma (1933), opposite her husband. This movie had a controversial 4 minute long kissing scene between the lead couple which created quite an outcry throughout the then orthodox India.

She worked at the Bombay Talkies, which was considered the most technologically advanced movie studio of that time. This also gave her the opportunity to work with the famous Ashok Kumar in the notable film Achhut Kanya (1936), which told the love tale of an untouchable girl (played by Rani) and a Brahmin boy (played by Kumar).
Her fame crossed the international boundaries with a play for the U.F.A. which took her and her husband to Switzerland and the Scandinavian countries, where they received many accolades. She also received an offer from B.B.C. London to act in the first nationwide television broadcast in Britain.

Widowed in 1940, she married the Russian painter Svetoslav Roerich in 1945 and left tinsel town to move to Bangalore.

She was honored with a Padma Shri in 1958 for excellence in Arts. In 1969, she became the first actress to win the prestigious Dadasaheb Phalke award, the highest award in cinema.

In 1994, she died at the age of 85 after having left quite a mark in our hearts and securing a place in Bollywood's history.

Curiosity Corner:

* She is known to have discovered the Tragedy King Dilip Kumar.

* She is remembered as being the Dragon Lady of Indian Cinema.

Editor: Neethika B. & Gunia M.
Graphics: Sano

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