Helen, renowned as Bollywood’s best dancer, was predominantly associated with dance numbers in top films, her identity solidified as a dancer rather than an actor. However, it was Mahesh Bhatt who took the daring step of casting her in an emotional role for the film ‘Lahu Ke Do Rang’. Bhatt’s decision was met with skepticism, with some branding him “mad” for entrusting an emotional character to Helen.
Reflecting on the unconventional casting, Mahesh Bhatt recalled an incident during filming at Mumbai’s Natraj Studio where a choreographer, upon learning of Helen’s involvement, incredulously asked if it was for a dance sequence. Bhatt’s assertion that it was an emotional film drew disbelief and skepticism, questioning the choice of casting Helen in a non-dance role.
In an earlier interview with Rediff he recalled, “When we were filming in Bombay’s (Mumbai’s) Natraj Studio, a reputed choreographer shooting on the next stage, walked up to me, a junior director, and asked, ‘Suna hai Helen ke saath shooting kar raha hai, dance hai kya (I heard you are shooting with Helen, is it a dance)?’ Shaking my head, I replied, ‘Nahin, emotional film hai (No, it is an emotional film).’ The response was incredulous: ‘Helen ke saath emotional film bana raha hai, pagal hai kya (You are making an emotional film with Helen, are you crazy)!”.
Bhatt revealed Helen’s initial apprehension and nervousness about shouldering a role demanding emotional depth rather than her trademark song-and-dance routines. However, Helen’s dedication and commitment to the character, named Suzy, surpassed all expectations. Her performance not only embodied the character but also shattered the perception that an actress could be confined by her established image. Bhatt praised Helen’s talent, emphasizing that when given a substantial role, she delivered beyond expectations, earning praise from audiences and defying preconceptions about her capabilities.
Despite her acclaim as a dancer, Helen’s versatility and acting prowess were evident in roles like Suzy. Notably, her iconic dance numbers, including “Yeh Mera Dil” from Amitabh Bachchan’s ‘Don’, remain etched in Bollywood’s memory, showcasing her multifaceted talent beyond dancing.