"Mera Naam Chin Chin Chu……" - this is the song from the hit film 'Howrah Bridge' which brought Helen Richardson or simply Helen to fame. She had fled from Burma and after coming to Bombay landed up in movies. Her dancing talents were soon recognised and she became one of the members of Cuckoo's troupe.
Her first film, 'Hoor-E-Arab' directed by P. N. Arora required her to give a solo dance number but nothing much happened. Then with Shakti Samanta's 'Howrah Bridge' and its famous song, Helen found herself replacing Cuckoo as the leading dancing lady. She became the doyenne of dance numbers.
Helen soon found herself itching for some films as an actress. No one showed that much of confidence in her acting abilities and she only got hold of some B-grade movies like 'Toofan', 'Cha Cha Cha' and 'Aaya'. Her keenness in acting though got her some second fiddle roles in popular films like 'Gumnaam' (1965), 'Teesri Manzil' (1966) and 'Dus Lakh' (1966). She soon took the entire industry by storm with some of her breathtaking dance numbers like 'Mungda Mungda' and 'Piya Tu Ab To Aaja' which are still sung by people of our times. Before things could slide down from her, Salim Khan the writer offered some solid roles in films like 'Don', 'Inaam Dharam' and 'Dostana'. But due to personal reasons and age, she lost all her charm and screen appearance. She soon had to retire.
After many years she came back with films like Amitabh Bachchan's 'Akayla' and Sanjay Leela Bhansali's 'Khamoshi'. She may have tried her hands in character roles, but Helen will always be remembered for her extraordinary cabaret skills and haunting songs.
In the last Filmfare awards, she was given the 'Lifelong Achievement' award which will make any recipient proud. This achievement will be all the more dear for her because her three sons (though not real ones) - Salman, Arbaaz and Sohail - got together to present her this award!