Indian Classic Actress Kumkum – Tribute to a great dancer


Hindi cinema has featured some great exponents of classical dancing during the golden age. When one thinks of classical dancers to have graced the cinema scene, images of Vyjyanthimala, Padmini, Raagini etc flow in.

This post examines the graceful dancing abilities of Kumkum, who has several classical pieces picturised on her, and some non-classical hits. Kumkum was an excellent actress too.

Born Mehrun nisa from Hussainabad in Bihar, she was trained in Kathak
It is quite difficult to maintain grace while being  swift in dance, and she was excellent at that.

One of the critical aspects of Kathak dancing is abhinaya. abhinaya is the dancer’s ability to interpret words set to music, and the  presentation of meaning through gesture. This is clearly evident in her on-screen performances as a dancer, as seen the headpage poster above, where she is seen performing abhinaya for “Kajra Lagake”.

We start with the obvious choice, Madhuban Me Radhika, a milestone song in Hindi cinema, with Kumkum as the Rajnarthaki. The above image is the abhinaya of “Ghunghta Mukh pas daalke“.

A superb score by Chitragupta in Kedar, this song has a lot of close-ups and there are several moments of delight. It has some interesting lyrics by Prem Dhawan, “Log kahe tu tan ka kaala, main janoon tu man ka kaala”. Watch the facial expression for “Man Ka Kala“, the knowing gesture and smile.

Another great song with superb music, using off Kumkum’s dancing skills. It is only during the course of research on the topic that I realized how many lovely songs were picturized on her.

A beautiful song by LP, Lata’s voice is so sweet. Kumkum in full flow here. Very entertaining show.

Kumkum has taken the song several notches high. Superb expressions, every closeup is so arresting. I love this song for Chitragupta’s music, Lata’s sweet voice,  and Kumkum’s lively performance.

This one is an absolute classic. Great Bhairavi by Naushad, good lyrics By Shakeel, spot-on execution by Lata. Kumkum has carried off the song very well with lot of dignity.

This song was a real surprise for me when I heard it for the first time. as I had not heard this aspect of Khayyam’s music. Based on Punjabi folk, it has a lilting tune and the song rests squarely on the actress’s shoulders and she has pulled it off very well. The above image is the abhinaya for “Nainon Ki Do Bhanwre Oopar“.

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