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.
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
* 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.