Edwina (Part 3): Her Fellow Dancers

Tom and Edwina’s fabulous guest posts on Edwina’s career as a dancer in the Hindi film industry of the 50s and 60s: part 3, about the people whom Edwina danced with. If you haven’t already read the first two posts, click here to read post 1 (a short biography of Edwina) and here for Edwina’s reminiscences on the actors, actresses and choreographers of  Hindi cinema’s Golden Age.

(As before, Tom’s words in this article are formatted in blue; Edwina’s words remain in black). Over to Tom:

In this article we’ll get to know the people with whom Edwina worked, we’ll see what they looked like, and we’ll view videos that feature each of them. If you enjoy the films of the 1950’s and 60’s, then you’ve seen these people before. By now you should already be able to pick Edwina out from the crowd. By the time this article is done you should also be able to do the same for such people as Oscar, Pamela, Herman, Teresa, and many others. These are the people that livened up the dances and made them ‘zing’. Without them the dances wouldn’t have been nearly as successful as they were. In addition to being in the songs and dances, they often were also used in a dance setting where there might not be a song associated with it, but the plot was being developed. I’m referring to dances set in clubs and homes where Edwina’s group provided the background to the hero meeting the heroine, or maybe where some nefarious plot was being hatched.

Teresa and Oscar

These two are being treated together because after many years of working together on the dance floor and later in choreographing dances, finally in 1979 they got married and they remain married to this day. Teresa is a moon-faced beauty seen frequently in the dances before, during, and after Edwina’s work in the film industry. Oscar arrived after Edwina began dancing in films, but stayed much much later, and then switched to choreographing dances and later yet running his own school of dance, working as late as about 2007 when he was one of the choreographers on the film Khoya Khoya Chand. As Oscar Unger he has quite a long list of credits on IMDB.

Teresa Nazareth was a Goan and another Dancer Friend of Mine 3 Years Older than I Again She was a Good Friend to My Brother Terence & Sister Marie long before I came on the Scene Even though She Studied in the same School as I in the Convent of Jesus & Mary (Byculla Mumbai) I never really Knew Her but only of Her Again by joining the Film Industry made Her Acquaintance & got to know Her Mother & Younger Brother Lionelle as well Never ever knew who Her Father was & will never ask either? Teresa ever since I remember was the Main Support & kept the Pot Boiling in that Household She kept Herself to Herself Most Times Men were very attracted to Her because She truly was a Very Attractive Young Female with Beautiful Long Hair I used to call Her ‘The Elizabeth Taylor’ of the Film Industry We became the closest of Friends & stayed the Best of Friends to this Day I never Fail to keep in touch with Her & Visit Her each Time I go to India I go to India Twice a Year Most Times We as Friends Love & Trust Each Other Completely!!!

Teresa now Lives in Juhu with Her Husband Oscar Unger who also was a Dancer in the Films & rose to being a Choreographer Oscar was first Married to Helen’s Sister Jenny & after getting Divorced Married Teresa They are Married for Many Years They have no Children from the Marriage Oscar & I are the Greatest of Friends too & have been for Many Many Years Before I got My Own Property in Naigaon (Thane District) India I used to Live with Them ( Until Ten Years Ago) at Their Flat in Juhu & so did Some of My Family Members including My Husband Keith They were Very Hospitable & We Love Them to Bits!!!

Trying to remember now about Oscar? I think I knew Oscar long before He joined the Film Line He was going steady with a distant cousin of mine called ‘Solve’ (pronounced Solway) from Colaba Bombay & He had a Long Beard & Hair In fact He used to ask Me to put in a Good Word for Him (because He wanted to get into the Line) with the Choreographers because He thought I was Great Also remembering that when I was doing the Dance with Helga ‘Tere Ghar Ke Samne’ He was on the Sets & He Praised Me to the Highest & asked again Now I was the last Person to ask as I never went crawling to any Dance Master or Director or Producer for all the Money in the World so I had to let Him down The next thing I knew & saw He became Terence’s Side Kick & where Terence was there was Oscar too & this went on for a very long period of time In that period of time I think He got to know Jenny & they got ‘Courting’ I believe When I returned to England in 1967 I got on with Life here so I heard less & less till Oscar visited us in Our First Home in London & said that He was now Married to Teresa & would bring Her to England to meet up with Us here He also told Us that He married Jenny for a while & they were doing Cabaret outside the Film Line in Posh Places in the City nearer to the GateWay of India Area Hope I got all of this right so far

Anyway Teresa did become Oscar/Vijay’s Dance Assistant but when He Married Teresa He made Her stay at Home Instead Crafty Beggars eh!!!

I asked Edwina why Oscar waited ten years after his divorce from Jenny before marrying Teresa.

You asked about Teresa & Oscar? Now Remember I was here in the UK when all this took place If One Relationship went Sour & He must have gone through a Large Emotional Trauma can You Honestly see Him Tying the Knot again in such a Hurry? Also Oscar I would Imagine had an Eye for the Opposite Sex (like all Men) so why would He then want to rush into Marriage when the World was His Oyster eh? Do not Forget that Both Oscar & Vijay were Navy Boys First before They Joined the Line I would also Imagine that Both Oscar & Vijay were at Their Peak as Choreographers & were also Competing with Saroj Khan then who became No.1 Choreographer & had no Time to think of Anything else but Their Careers & Their Battle to Succeed eh!!!? Oscar did become Very Ambitious & was Well in the Swing of Things when I used to Visit Teresa & Oscar in Their Home He had no Time to Talk to Anyone including Me Oscar is One of My Best Friends & My Heart goes Out to Him but He was a Fool unto Himself See Tom I believe in Facing Facts & there is No One without Short Comings I Myself have Plenty of Those too I cannot Paint a Rosy Picture every time You ask Me about Whomever just to Keep People Happy & be False to Myself in the Process

He & Teresa just Love Me to Bits & I am sad for Them They did not Play Their Cards Right otherwise Today They would have been Very Wealthy Indeed Mainly Oscar’s Fault He was such a Generous Man & helped so Many People when They were in Need of Money One or Two of His Young Housemaids are still Dancing in the Film Line because Oscar put Them There He never ever thought about Saving for the Future because He was Fool enough to believe that He would be Famous Forever You know that saying – ‘A Fool & His Money is Soon Parted’ They would not have Owned the Flat in Juhu that They are Living in Today if Teresa did not Put Her Foot Down & made Him buy it from His LandLord when She did She never really had a Say in Most Matters & Especially in Money Matters Today Vijay Of Course has Property in Pune & Vasai not far from where I Live in Naigaon West

Oscar & Teresa are Declining Rapidly & only the other day Teresa & I were Chatting on the Telephone & She was saying or rather planning whether or not to Move into A Private Home at this Stage in Their Lives as They do not really have a Family as such to take care of Them right now I advised Her to do as I Personally would like to see Them being taken care of Properly in the Twilight of Their Lives because They are the Most Beautiful People on God’s Earth so Deserve the Best!!!

Teresa on the left, and Edwina

I’ve chosen as the video to represent Teresa the great Ajeeb Dastan Hai Yeh from the 1960 film Dil Apna Aur Preet Parayee. While no one (Edwina and Pamela are in it also) gets to dance (and Edwina hates this video for that reason alone) we get very nice closeups of Teresa and in other videos where she dances it’ll be easier to pick her out. That, and she looks especially lovely in this one.

Left to right: Terence (Edwina’s brother), Edwina, Oscar, Asha Parekh

Oscar gets some outstanding dance music by O.P. Nayyar from 1965’s Mere Sanam. The video also features Jenny (Helen’s sister) in an orangish-brownish sleeveless dress with her hair up and Edwina’s sister Marie (blue dress) dancing with her husband Shinde (in beard and an ugly checkered yellowish sports coat). Edwina in a mustard colored blouse dances with her tall brother Terence. The band is Terence’s Ted Lyons and His Cubs, and the choreographer is Edwina’s friend, the great Herman Benjamin.

Jennifer

Now to answer your Question about Jenny Yes Jenny (Helen’s Sister) was a Regular Dancer I think she felt that I was a threat to Her because Oscar was extremely Fond of Me & He was a Great Friend to Terence & Marie too No We were Polite to each other & Laughed & Joked even but never Friends Come to think of it She never really had many Friends She was a ‘Misery Guts’ ! Anyway Oscar & Jenny were Married on the 23 December 1965 & Divorced 2 September 1969

If you’re like me and have no idea what a ‘Misery Guts’ is, I’ve saved you the trouble of looking it up. It’s English slang for ‘someone who complains all the time and is never happy’. The video I’ve chosen to feature her is a really nice poolside dance from the 1964 film Cha Cha Cha. Edwina dances with both Dara Singh (with her hair braided) and with O.P. Ralhan (with her hair hanging free). She’s the only one not wearing a swimsuit. Jenny wears a dark swimsuit with a striped towel wrapped around her waist and dances with future husband Oscar, even performing his signature bending-all-the-way-backwards move. She also dances with some fat men.

Marie and Shinde

Right Tom this is now about ***Marie Shinde*** (My Sister) 5 Yrs Older than I Like I said before We were 5 Girls & 2 Boys as Siblings in Our Lyons Family I am the Second Youngest & after Me is My Brother Neville Marie now lives in Brisbane Australia with Her Immediate Family Her Husband Bharat Shinde was never called Bharat by Family & Friends Always only Shinde He Died about a couple of Years ago They have 2 Daughters & 1 Son from the Marriage

Marie also worked in the Film Line from an early age After Meeting Shinde in the Studios they fell in Love & got Married at an early age My Parents did not approve for many personal reasons so they kept it all quiet & Shinde’s Father was a Maharastrian Vicar who Married Them without My Father’s Consent so We (The Lyons Clan) did not Witness that Marriage but when My Parents did accept the Two as a Couple (not out of choice) They also Married again in the Catholic Church This was My Sister’s Choice

My Sister Marie since She first met Shinde lived mainly with the Shinde Family along with Shinde’s 2 Brothers & 2 Sisters & Their Parents Also if I remember well the Oldest Brother was also Married then so there was a Sister in-law as well I Personally was quite fond of that Family ( I was still in School then) & visited Them often since My School was only across the Road from where they lived a Hop Skip & a Jump away

Shinde used to act the Clown in the Studios & was very much Loved by Most Everyone especially Our Dancer Boys & Girls In Most Dance Sequences the Choreographers always made Him Prominent by giving Him something Extra to do & He always Performed well One of the Movies One can see Them both in is ‘Tere Ghar Ke Samne’ when Shinde behaves a bit like ‘Jerry Lewis’ the Comedian in American Films & Countless Others The Women really took to Him which kept My Sister Marie on Her Toes most times ha!ha! Not Funny I Know but You could not change the Man!!!

Also about Shinde being a Protestant could have been one of the reasons among others? My Parents were Very Staunch Catholics & I Thank My Lucky Stars that Keith happened to be a R.C. too My Father was Very Strict with All His Daughters ( 5 in All) & Warned Us All that the First Bloke (Fella/Man) We went out with would have to be the Man We Married or Else? Funny enough We Sisters did Exactly That Sink or Swim !!!

Edwina mentioned both being in the 1963 fim Tere Ghar Ke Samne. I’ll use Dil Ki Manzil from that film to show them off, even though it’s really Edwina’s video, and one of only two (the other being 1964’s Cha Cha Cha) for which she received a screen credit. We’ve already seen the two of them elsewhere but Marie especially, and Shinde before he grew his beard, can be difficult to spot. Edwina’s dear friends Pamela and Teresa are in this one and choreographer Surya Kumar ‘plays’ the saxophone near the end. The dance also features her best male friends among the dancers, Abe, Bhagwan, and Tony. More on them later on.


Marie on left, Edwina on right

Shinde

Pamela

This is about Pamela Bonicci who was & is a Family Friend of the Lyons Clan Her Parents were both Anglo Indians too & were Good Friends of My Parents Pam had a Younger Sister ‘Sylvie’ & Brothers ‘Trevor & Derek’ She is the Elder of the Siblings Parents & Brother Trevor are Deceased She Married a Frank Alphonso who is also Deceased Has 6 Children from the Marriage 4 Daughters & 2 Sons & the Younger Son Died a few Years ago She & Her Family & Extended Family all Live in Connecticut in the USA

Pamela was Educated in the same Convent of Jesus & Mary in Mumbai & Poona where My Sisters Philomena Marie & Myself were Educated too She was Closer to Marie who were about the same age group She was or is rather 4 Years Older to Me so was more Marie’s Friend then until I joined the Film Industry & became a Dancer too along with Them It was then that We grew Very Very Close Indeed We were almost Inseparable!

We spent a lot of time together even when we were not working in the Studios & Visited Each Other in Each Other’s Homes on Days Off We got on like a House on Fire!!! Finally We became a Threesome Pamela Teresa & I & Our Names were always Top of the List for MostChoreographers & Thank The Lord for That because by then We were well in the Swing of being ‘THE BREAD WINNERS’ in Our Families & needed to be in Demand which helped the Cash to Flow I Truly felt so Blessed & even turned down work when I got too overtired I still think of Us as ‘The 3 Amigos’ Lovely Memories!!!

Pamela used to be called ‘The Marilyn Monroe’ of ‘Clare Road Byculla’ because of Her Sexy Walk & Looks & She Knew how to use it all if & when She needed to & also to take care of Herself if She ever came Unstuck! I Loved Her & still do but in Reality We are Worlds Apart Sink or Swim & We Both Swam but to Opposite Shores!!!

I had in mind one video to use as an example of Pamela’s work, and then Edwina suggested another. Both are good songs and since I don’t really know of one where Pamela is the real star, I’ve decided to use them both. The first one is from the 1959 film Dil Deke Dekho. While Edwina is in it, we only see her from a distance through a window, wearing a dark dress with a lighter colored mid-section. Pamela, on the other hand, is seen throughout the video, sometimes in close-up. and at one point brings Asha Parekh by the hand back to rejoin the group.

This next one from 1959’s Black Cat is really Edwina’s video but Pamela also plays a large part. We first see the two of them when Edwina motions for Pamela to come and join the dance about 45 seconds in. Pamela sometimes dances with Edwina and also with a couple of other male dancers, one of whom is her future husband Frank Alphonso.

Pamela and other members of her family are certain to read these articles and I’d like to take this opportunity to wish Pamela all the best in the future and to thank her for her part in these wonderful memories she and Teresa and Edwina and the others have given us. And Pamela, you and your daughters are more than welcome to leave a comment and add to what Edwina has told us about you and any of the others with whom you worked.

Saroj Khan

A bit younger than Edwina, Saroj Khan went on to become the most successful of all the group dancers with whom Edwina worked. After her stint as a backup dancer she first became a dance assistant and then a full-fledged choreographer, something she does to this day. She’s choreographed for over two hundred movies and has won a number of awards for her work. Although she’s worked with every major actress active in the last three decades, she’s especially known for her work with two of the best dancers ever to grace the silver screen, Sridevi and Maduri Dixit. Among the dances she’s directed are Main Tere Dushman from Nagina for Sridevi, Choli Ke Peeche from Khal Nayak for Maduri Dixit, and Dola Re Dola from Devdas for both Maduri and Aishwarya Rai. There’s a bit of a problem with her biographies, though, and that is she’s said to be much younger than she looks in the video I’ll soon spotlight. She was born either in late 1948 or early 1949, apparently. That would make her around thirteen years old at the time of the video coming up. And there’s just no way that’s true. In addition she’s said to have married the choreographer Sohanlal at age 13 (with him being 43, married and with four children) and to have given birth to her first child at age 14. Edwina and I both suspect she’s really about four years older than what the online biographies say, and maybe three years younger than Edwina herself. There’s lots of information about her available on the Internet, but here’s an interview done with her.

The video I’ve chosen to represent her is one where she dances with Herman Benjamin, at one point throwing him over her back. Saroj is wearing dark pedal pushers and sweater. It’s from the 1962 film Vallah Kya Baat Hai when she was supposedly only 13 years old. Later we’ll see one she’s in from three years earlier! In this one she opens the video by rolling down the stairs. Edwina’s not in it, but both Pamela and Teresa make brief appearances.

[Dusted Off interrupts. Sorry, but WordPress is playing up and has decided it won’t let this video be embedded:

If you can’t view that video, just copy and paste the link in a new browser window to play it.]

Robert

I first learned of Robert from a YouTube friend, keramatullah1, who asked me to ask Edwina about him. As he wasn’t a member of her ‘inner circle’, Edwina couldn’t tell me much. He’s a handsome fellow, though, and appears in many of the same videos as Edwina.

This is A Dancer also from Our Group of Dancers known as Robert Do not know any details about His Private Life but I did come to know that while doing His Makeup in the Makeup Room had a Heart Attack & Died in the late 70s or early 80s Came to know this from a Friend while I was here in the Uk.

keramatullah1 mentioned to me that he appeared in the great Tiki Riki Tiki Riki Thakori from the 1964 film Woh Kaun Thi dancing with a girl wearing a sari. Since there are only two sari-wearing girls in this dance and he has a moustache, he’s easy to spot. Have a look at about 55 seconds in where he twirls around with her. This dance also includes many of the people we’ve already met or soon will meet. Edwina dances with Oscar and appears from the very beginning. Also appearing are Pamela, Teresa, Edwina’s sister Marie (her hair in double braids) her husband Shinde (who makes funny noises 1:20 in), and Ahmed (tall, with a high forehead).

Herman

My favorite among the male dancers and far and away the best rock-and-roll dancer I’ve seen in Indian cinema is Herman Benjamin. I figure at some point he must have seen and studied the American black Lindy Hoppers and jitterbuggers from the 40’s and 50’s, perhaps only on film, because he seems to have picked up moves from them. He may not have known how to dance other dance styles (although real dancers could always study and learn, as Edwina reminded me more than once), but for the kinds of dances he was asked to do he was about the best I think.

Tom I Danced with Many Many Partners & Herman was no exception to the rule He was friendly with everyone & yes He was Alright Looking & laughed & joked with all but knew where to draw the line especially with Terence’s Sisters both Marie & Edwina I suppose I think while Dancing with Him He laughed & joked with Me more than any other time Yes I think I would say that I did like Herman because He was an OK Guy! He used to be a Dancer in the Group before He made it to the Top Also He was pretty rough when Leading His Partner but pleasing in His way of Dancing to the Eye of the Public Like I said before ‘My Partners were just 6 of One & Half Dozen of the Other’

We Danced well together but He & My Brother Terence never really were Compatible so He kept well away from Terence’s Sisters While We were in a Shot We let Ourselves go & Laughed & Danced Freely but after We went Our Separate Ways He liked Marie & I but Associated More with the Other Girls from what I remembered He got a little Firmer all round when He became Dance Director but still A Very Decent Guy & Kept His Prestige & Got His Respect back in Return I do not ever remember Herman having a Partner but did Sometimes Set His Dance Routine on Various Dancers If ever He did anything untoward then He must have done it very privately because I never noticed any funny business But then when I ever get to know any Gossip it is always out of date anyway Stale News Stinks!!!

Me, I think he had a soft spot for Edwina because, although he’s usually pretty expressionless when dancing, when his partner is Edwina he becomes more animated and smiles much more.

For Herman I’ve chosen the dancing he does at the open of Tin Kanastar Peet Peet Kar from the 1959 film Love Marriage. He’s easy to spot as he’s wearing a bold horizontally striped shirt. He’s a handsome fellow with a moustache. He dances with Edwina (in dark dress with white spots) for part of the time and other dancers (including Pamela) elsewhere. After the song starts about two minutes in we see less of the dancers.

Edwina and Herman

Vijay

Vijay is Maharastrian Hindu & has a Twin Brother Jay as well Before joining the Film Industry They were in the Navy along with Oscar Unger Cannot remember Their Surname though but Very Nice & Friendly they were I never really had any dealings with Jay at all Vijay was Very Friendly with Me He was one of Our Gang & anyone in Our Gang had to be somewhat Mad to be in Our Group of Dancers We all laughed & kept each other Happy helping the Time to pass quicker Vijay came into the Line later than I & about the same time as Oscar did He & Oscar had the same sort of Style in Dancing & maybe it had something to do with the Navy I have seen other Navy Fellas Dance outside the Industry & they seem to have similar movements & style Anyway it was after I left the Industry for good that I got to know that both Oscar & Vijay became Choreographers & Partners too about the same time as Saroj Khan They were all Competing to make it to the Top Bless Them! All My Friends & They made it Big!

Vijay was the One to Instigate Constantly & because Vijay had Children & Oscar did not He requested 60% & gave Oscar 40% of the Earnings & Oscar accepted! More Fool Oscar eh? Vijay was another Maharashtrian Hindu & Very Shrewd !!!

Vijay & Oscar visited Us here in England a Couple of Times or so I remember Vijay Gate Crashing here in England the Day Keith’s Sister was getting Married We were enjoying the Reception when out of no where Our Vijay Appears & Grabs My Hands & the next thing I know I was on the Floor with Him Rocking & Rolling with everyone else cheering us on & that really made My Day Special Apparently He had come to England on some Shooting or other & made enquiries about My whereabouts from Keith’s Niece (who also knew Vijay well) & wanted to Surprise Me & He sure did !!! We were almost Partners & did some Rehearsals as well to do Cabaret Dancing Outside the Studios but that Never Ever Materialised as I was told by My Brother Terence that it was not becoming since My Husband Keith was away in the UK Yet it was OK for My Sister Marie to do Cabaret The Mind still Boggles?

Vijay is Very Happily Married & Settled with His Family now somewhere in Pune India We have not made contact for a Few Years now but must do the next time I go to My India A few Years ago I was told that Vijay had One of His Eyes Gored by the Horn of A Bull & it had been replaced by a Glass Eye Very Sad I thought !!! God Bless Vijay & His Family & May They Prosper Always

The One with Dara Singh & Kishore is Funny & it has been ages since I saw Myself in A Skirt above the Knees as I wear Jeans & Gagaras (Long Cotton Skirts) & Long House Dresses mainly these days

This short but very funny scene from the 1965 film Hum Sab Ustad Hain isn’t of such good quality (thanks T-Series) but gives us good shots of Vijay (and Edwina in the above mentioned short skirt).

My Very Best Friends & I called Them ‘Brothers’ & They called Me ‘Sis’ were ABE BHAGWAN & TONY & They were the Best of the Lot They were all in ‘Tere Ghar Ke Samne’ Tony & Abe were Frequently My Partners in Various Dance Sequences in Various Movies & Abe even did a Duet with Me in a Song Sung by Raj Kapoor with Shakila at the Piano in ‘Shriman Satyawadi’ I Loved Them All Dearly!

Abe Cohen

The first name isn’t pronounced to rhyme with ‘babe’ as I thought, but with ‘baby’. We saw his work in the second article where he and Edwina illustrated the ballet-type moves of the choreographer Satyanarayan in a song from the 1960 film Shriman Satyawadi.

Do You know Tom that ‘Abe Cohen’ also came to England not long after I came here I would say about 1969/70 to Better Himself I would Imagine I was out walking not far from where We lived in London & He was walking too right ahead when I noticed Him & softly called His Name (because I was not sure whether it was Him or not) & got the Shock of My Life when He turned around & said ‘Hi Sis’ What Puzzled Me more was that He did not look Shocked & I had the Kids with Me We said a few words & off He went & I was too busy to think anymore of it Then not long after He called out to Me from a Black Cab that He was Driving & gave Me a Lift back Home & I had the Kids again & I never even asked Him into the House because again I never gave it a thought He became a Cab Driver In Those Days I was going about like a Zombie & was Truly Struggling Physically & Mentally Finally I was Working in Marks & Spencer & who should walk into the Store was Abe again this time with a Young Jewish Female whom He Introduced to Me as His Fiancee He looked Shy & so did She & They took off & I never ever saw Him again

When I spoke to Pam again when We met in India she said that She heard He joined the Israeli Army & got a Shot in the Leg & had to have the Leg Amputated Poor Beggar! Wonder if He is still alive? I know Bhagwan & Tony died because of Alcohol Sad eh? To this Day I have not Fathomed Out how come Abe landed in the UK not far from where I Lived that too? A Coincidence? What a Small World We Live In Then!!!

Later:  Also Confirms Abe’s Death in Hendon London when Employed as a Cab Driver  Remember I told You He gave Me & the Kids a Lift Home One Day?  That’s the 3rd Brother gone  God Rest His Soul!

Just before the song began with Abe from Shriman Satyawadi, there had been an extended dance sequence where Raj Kapoor and Mehmood fought for the affections of Shakila. It’s very funny and during much of it the dancers, including partners Edwina and Abe, are seen. The entire video begins with a spectacular 12 second sequence featuring Edwina gliding across the dance floor. Many of her friends are featured in this one, including Teresa and Pamela.

Tony Periera

OK let Me see how I can get Motivated to start this One about Our Tony Periera? A Smasher of a Lad Indeed !!! Like all Human Beings He had His Weaknesses too Drinks & Ganja (also called the Blues) which eventually was the Cause of His Death He was Drunk when He was Leaning Out of a Moving Train & that Pole Hit His Head I Feel A Great Pain (like a Stab in the Heart) when I relate to Anyone about the Manner in Which Most of My Dear Friends Died!!!

I Remember Our Usual Western Group Dancers were all having a Break sitting on the Grass Outside RK Studios at the Time as We were Shooting for Raj Kapoor (cannot remember the name of the Film) but was Glad for the Break Tony with this Big Grin on His Face Rolled A Very Well Fed looking Cigarette made with the Contents of a Black Ball that He Doctored & Tobacco Mixed Together with Great Perfection then Lit it & Passed it around We were Only a Small Group of Dancers & Each took a Drag of the Stuff & by the Time the Cigarette was Over We all had quite a Few Drags & were Flying High Including Me We were all Laughing & Giggling & could not Control Ourselves & were Called on the Set for a Shot but We never stopped Laughing which drove Raj Kapoor Mad (time was money) so He Threw Us all Out & told us to come back when We Sobered Up He did not have a Clue though as to what Triggered it all off He got on with Other Shots that Day Raj Kapoor was Very Firm with Any & Everyone who Worked for Him I never saw Him Smile on His Set He was a Tough Task Master!!!

The pictures and video for Tony, Ahmed, and Bhagwan are found just below the section on Bhagwan. 

Ahmed 

Not one of Edwina’s ‘brothers’, but a fixture in these dances for many years was the man I noticed first when I began watching the classic Indian films, the slender man with the high forehead, Ahmed.

The Guy You asked Me about is Ahmed also from Byculla & Sankli Street from Where I come from One of Terence’s Rivals as well (the tall guy with the receding hairline) He hated Terence & Terence hated Him

Ahmed was a Real Good Friend to Shinde We got on OK Ahmed was My Partner in Love Marriage

Bhagwan

Bhagwan was a Hindu & Very Much Married & had a Family as well & Of Course The Bread Winner Lived in Dadar – Mumbai very close to the ‘Shree Sound Studio’ He is One of the Lads who Danced along with Helen – in the Song Majnu Ke Chhilke – O Tera Kya Kahna also with Abe-Tony-& Ahmed & whom I Slippered at the End of the Song & then Shook Hands with Helen Pam was in it too Reading a Magazine standing against the Lamp Post when She Hit PL Raj with the Magazine & the very First Girl was Saroj who hit Tony with the Slipper I was just Walking when I turned around to see who was Following Me when Fazlu another Dancer Boy (rather small & fat) hit Bhagwan with the Umbrella for Me instead Remember the Song/Dance?

Anyway talking about Bhagwan who became Alcoholic died a Pauper too on the Streets in Dadar These all came about when I was in the UK so no dates at all

                         
Left to Right: Bhagwan, Ahmed, Helen, Abe

Saroj Khan (at age 10?), Tony, Pamela, the choreographer P.L. Raj

Abe, Tony, Bhagwan, Fazlu, Edwina

I’ll close with a couple of videos, one spotlighting four of our favorite women, followed by one with four of our men. In Jab Ishq Kahin Ho Jaata Hai from the 1965 film Arzoo, it’s the ‘trads’ against the ‘mods’ with the traditional group wearing Indian clothes and doing a more ‘filmi’ dance. Edwina’s group wears slacks, blouses, and dresses, and dances to rock and roll.

Foreground, left to right: Marie-green slacks, Teresa-red, Pamela-blue, Edwina-gold dress

Of course, life continued after Edwina returned to England. People quit, others got married and retired. Fresh blood replaced the tired blood. And others made a career of it. Three years after Edwina left the ‘film line’, some of those she knew were still in there giving it their all. From this virtually unknown but outstanding Jayshree T dance, Mere Hothon Ki Laali from the 1970 film Ilzam, we find four of her old friends lending a hand.

Left to Right: Robert, Oscar, Jayshree T, Vijay, Shinde (sister Marie’s husband)

In our fourth and final installment we’ll go onto the sets to find out what the day-to-day experience of filming a dance was like, and what it was like being a dancer in the movies, both on and off the sets. How much did they get paid? How long did it take to film a dance? How did our people stay cool in the sweltering Indian heat? How did they keep from breaking out in laughter when the star lip-synching the words to a song couldn’t carry a tune to save his life? And, most importantly, could Edwina raise and lower her eyebrows one at a time, like Helen?

Text and images © Edwina Violette and Thomas Daniel

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80 thoughts on “Edwina (Part 3): Her Fellow Dancers

  1. This has to be my favourite of all the Edwina posts till now. :-) It’s so wonderful to get to know the names of all these very familiar faces one sees in so many of these old song-and-dance sequences!

    I’m also intrigued by the backgrounds of some of them – the men, especially: from the Navy? How did they manage that? Did they take premature retirement? What prompted them to shift from the Navy and into the film industry? (And was that why the ‘deck hand’-like choreography in songs like the latter half of Mera naam Chin Chin Choo’)?!

    But it’s sad to hear how some of them ended their days – Abe Cohen, for instance, or Bhagwan and Tony. :-(

  2. This is the most interesteing of all the posts so far. It is nice to be able to put names to familiar faces from the past. Thanks, Edwina, Tom, Dustedoff. Can’t wait for the fourth installment. :) (Though I will be sad when it ends.)

  3. By now I’m absolutely immersed into their world.
    A special mention of Tom for the very clear illustrations by picture first followed by a video clip to make things clear and easy.
    Thank you for that Tom.
    Dances will never be the same again as before. I doubt I’ll give much attention to the main dancers from now on as my eyes will be searching for the faces whose names we are now so familiar with.
    Very interesting.

    • I doubt I’ll give much attention to the main dancers from now on as my eyes will be searching for the faces whose names we are now so familiar with.”

      You’re so right, pacifist! I was watching O babu o lala yesterday, and instead of looking at Smriti Biswas or Iftekhar, I was muttering to myself, “That’s Herman Benjamin, isn’t it? And is that Oscar?”

      • It’s Herman Benjamin, yes, but Oscar, as mentioned in the paragraphs on him, didn’t begin work in the movies until 1963 or 64. And I love O Babu O Lala. One of Geeta Dutt’s best uptempo songs.

        • Ah, okay. I forgot that bit about when Oscar began working in the film industry.

          I love O babu o lala too. I agree with it being one of Geeta Dutt’s best uptempo songs (my favourite, in fact) – and I think it’s one of the best examples of a good adaptation of a tune. I think Rum and Coca-Cola pales in comparison.

  4. This is fantastic stuff. It is so wonderful to read about all these people who we would never have known about had it not been for this series of posts. Am so happy now that whenever I see a dance sequence from that period, I will hopefully be able to put a name to a face. And Tom’s work also in providing us with just the right videos has been exemplary. Thanks SO much for this, all of you.

    And yes, I’m also sad at how the lives of Tony, Bhagwan and some others ended.

  5. I loved, loved reading this post. There are so many familiar faces, so many stories. For me, specially, they seem all the more familiar, because I grew up in Byculla and Sankli Street, where so many of them lived. And I am pretty sure my aunt lived next door to Teresa’s family. I know there were a brother and a sister who were dancers, and I used to see them in films, and when we went to my aunt’s house for lunch from school, they would often be sleeping because they had been working late at night. It was so fantastic for me even then, to imagine their lives.

    Tom, you have chosen some great videos to illustrate these posts. Fabulous job. I need hours to watch all of this at leisure. But thank you for putting all this together.

        • Be My Guest! I’d Love to meet with You Madhu! I’d Love to also get Greta & Tom there to meet with You & all Others too
          Food for Thought eh!

          • At least Greta is one person I’ve already met! :-) The only one of my friends from the cinema-blogging community whom I can claim to have talked to in person. But how much I would love to meet so many other people I’ve become friends with over these past three years…

  6. OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG — this is a heaven sent! So many great IDs of those unknown dancer actors!

    The short fat guy Fazlu is in a lot of films — and has a big role in Awaara and Shree 420!

    Thank you, Edwina and Tom!!

    • She told me recently but I forgot. I’ll see if I can get her back here to answer or maybe to tell me. She’s been a bit out of touch recently. The girl immediately behind that guitar player is Pamela.

    • Hello Darling! Madhu & all the Rest of My Dear Friends here It makes me so Happy to Read & feel Your’lls Happiness as You all express Your Comments here Bless You All! Your’ll also got used to My Crazy Way of Writing & seemed to have Understood everything I wrote with ease eh! Here in Boston with Greta & believe You Me this is turning out to be quite an experience I promise! Vow!!! I have now become Her Indian Mother according to Our Special Memsaab & a Memsaab She is by Character too!
      We get on so well together both Mother & Daughter & she is also enjoying my Indian Cooking Not enough hours in the day when You are living with Greta She & Her 2 Dogs are a Scream!!! I Love Her!
      Ok Madhu I may as well reply here to Your Question that Tom tried to Answer The Girl playing the Guitar to Your Question was Aileen Pringle who danced along side Me often Even in Dil Deke Deko on the Outdoor in Mahableshwar with Shammi & Asha Parekh We were Jiving together as Partners She married a Tinker Stuba who You will also see in that Scene the tallest of the lot & looks so much like My Brother Terence from far Even Tom mistook Him for Terence
      Aileen was a Sweetheart too & full of Fun She had a Motor Bike Accident & had to have a Leg Amputated & finally that led to the cause of Her Death Sadly! Thank God I am still here to tell You all the Tale eh! Love You All!

      • I’m so glad you and Greta are enjoying yourselves in Boston (so you’ve been pampering her with vegetable pulao and homemade mango pickle, I hear!)… and have you been teaching her the twist, too? I envy Greta so much!

        Oh, that’s awful about what happened to Aileen Pringle (thank you for identifying her for me; I’ve seen her very often in song and dance sequences). How sad about the accident and her subsequent death. That’s a terrible way to go. :-(

  7. Phew! There was so much to read here, but I am so glad Edwina has given such detailed descriptions that everything and everyone comes alive before my eyes. I am going to have to read all this again, slowly, and watch each video again, and see everyone properly. Thanks, Edwina, for giving us names that we can now put to all the people whom we used to just club together as “the dancers”.
    I love her descriptions of people!

    • This is for Madhu & Lalitha
      Wish I could do a lot more for You Dear Dear Ones! Most of the Dancers I Remember but forgotten Their Names especially the more Indian Male Colleagues like Fazlu I remember Ramesh Saheed Dattu (Basant became No1 Choreographer in Nepal)When with Us in the Group He never ever stopped praising Me & telling Me that I had the most beautiful style of My Own in Dancing & that I could go a Long Way in the Line if I wanted to Then there was Lawrence who was almost always along with Tony Abe Bhagwan He was Tall & Handsome You all might recognise Him with the Lads in ‘Aaoo Twist Kare’ (Lets Twist again by the Beetles) in Mehmood’s ‘Bhoot Bangla’? Lawrence was also My Partner in Many Dances but then I had the Pleasure of Dancing with almost all of them at some stage or other & feel Blessed now when I look back!
      Them Days are Gone Forever!!!!!!!!!
      Yes Madhu Greta & I are so compatable & because I have become pretty slow & everything I do takes twice as long these days We have not come to the Dancing Part yet Wish I had a Dancing Class of My Own & We all Lived in the same Country & close to each other then I most willing would have taught all of You to Dance if You all would have liked Me to do so with Great Pleasure Might even help Me in the process to keep trim & feel Young again I am still very Young at Heart! Love You all for making Me feel so Good
      Thank You Madhu for Hosting Toms & My Articles Bless You All

      • I wish that would happen Edwina. What a lovely and adept teacher of dancing you would make.
        I would enroll myself to do the film Arzoo ‘shake’.

      • Thank you for adding that bit about Lawrence, Edwina! I just watched Aao twist karein:

        Is he one of the musicians/dancers up on the stage with Mehmood? One of these guys?

        Mehmood's buddies from Aao twist karein

        And you don’t need to thank me at all, Edwina! I am the one who’s very grateful to you and Tom for offering me the opportunity to host these absolutely out-of-the-world posts on my blog. This poor little blog has been feeling very honoured. I was admitting to another friend the other day that your guest posts have been the most candid and interesting ones my blog’s ever hosted. Thank you, and bless you!

        • Yes Madhu They are Robert Lawrence Bhagwan & Tony & if I remember correctly Sayeed or Saheed was on the Drums behind Them Check it out if He is the One & Same who played the Opening Scene on the Trumpet to Abe & My Duet (Song – Mambo Jumbo) Hai Dil with Raj Kapoor Singing & Shakila at the Piano in Shreeman Satyawadi Sayeed was in most Dances too I think He was in Black Cat? when Minoo Mumtaz Sang & I danced with Herman only to start with & Saroj & Aileen too were with Me in that start eh!

          • Thanks, Edwina! I’ve just checked out Aao twist karein as well as Ae dil milein hain humko and the two men do look similar – the print of Aao twist karein isn’t good, so I couldn’t be absolutely certain.

  8. Sorry Upendra it is PL Raj as a Young Lad I read it wrong for some reason I thought You were talking about His Son looking like PL Raj
    My Old Age catching up ha!ha!

    • It’s okay. :)

      Do you know the dancer in this clip who pairs up with Dilip Kumar along with Herman Benjamin. He’s on the right (from our view) and has a small moustache at around 1:28:

  9. It’s funny, but this third article was written almost as an afterthought. I had pretty much organized what became the first, second, and fourth articles, but all these names kept popping up. I pretty much knew by then who Teresa, Pamela, Oscar, and Herman were, but Edwina kept mentioning her ‘brothers’ and the other men and women dancing with her in various songs. And then she mentioned Saroj Khan. I had no idea who she was, After a bit of research I discovered she was someone to be reckoned with (in spite of the gaping holes in her story), and decided these fellow dancers deserved an article of their own. Later on Edwina even mentioned others such as Lawrence and Aileen, but I decided by then we had enough new names. I’m glad they’re getting their due in the comments section. And I’m glad this article is being received warmly and that people are asking questions about the dancers mentioned in the article and other ones new to us (but not to Edwina).

    • I’m glad that afterthought happened! :-)

      Frankly, before I began reading Greta’s blog, the only dancers I knew of (other than those who were mainstream actors and actresses too, like Helen, LaxmiChhaya, Bela Bose, etc) were Herman Benjamin, Oscar, P L Raj, Surya Kumar and Satyanarayan – and those only as names in the credits. It’s so good to finally be able to put names to so many of those people who make up dance troupes in the films.

  10. So, the other night I was watching 1958’s Howrah Bridge (again) and in the first song I saw Herman (who I knew already), but also thought I saw Abe Cohen who I’ve learned about since I last saw the movie. So, we see Herman on the right side of the three male dancers when first seen at about the 20 second mark and also throughout the video. I was right about one of the dancers being Abe (with an extended closeup while dancing with Madhubala from 0:50 to 1:00) and also asked about the third dancer, who he was. Edwina wrote back, “Yes Alan on the Drums The other 3 Dancing are Abe Chandu & Herman Chandu & Herman were best of Friends Chandu also had His Own Tailoring Shop in Dadar Mumbai close to Shree Sound Studio He was the Guy I told You about who advised Me on how to save Money like the Indian Dancer Girls Remember I told You?”

    So, Alan, who is Edwina’s brother Terence’s brother-in-law, a former male model and sometime dancer, plays the bongos. Chandu gave Edwina some sound financial advice. At the time she wasn’t saving much because her money then went to her family and later to her family and kids mostly. But years later in England, after finally making enough money to begin saving, she put that advice to good use. It’s this song:

    And Edwina also volunteered this, which I’m including since he came up earlier in the comments, “Don’t forget to also remember that the Fat Man with Ashok & Your Beautiful Madhuballa is Om Prakash’s Nasty Brother who can be seen at the Swimming Pool who knocks that chap into the Pool with His Ugly Big Stomach & also in Hong Kong China Meena Singapore Helen’s Dance & Abe & I Jiving again”

    • Abe Cohen is pretty prominent throughout this clip – and, since Edwina’s identified Alan for us (I remember seeing him in other songs too), that’s another dancer I think I can spot from now on! Still not sure whether I’d be able to remember Chandu offhand.

  11. To continue, the swimming pool scene to which Edwina refers is, of course, the dance featuring Helen’s sister from 1964’s Cha Cha Cha. It’s embedded earlier in this article in the Jennifer section. Hong Kong Cheena Meena Singapore was embedded in the second article as an example of a Helen dance that also features Edwina. I’ll link to it again, and Helen plays with the guy’s goatee at about 1:30 into the video.

    • Thanks for that link to Hongkong Cheena Meena, Tom – and for specifically pointing out Om Prakash’s brother. He actually does resemble Om Prakash here, quite a bit…

      • And, of course, that’s Abe in the thumbnail above, beside Helen. He’s the guy wearing the dark shirt and blue jeans with the cuffs rolled up (just as I wear mine). He spends much of the dance with Edwina, but also dances with Helen and is all over that video. And without any trouble at all you can also find Teresa and Pamela in that dance. I like that one quite a lot, and especially love O.P. Nayyar’s music and the arrangement. I have no idea if the lyrics are any good.

        • The lyrics are really nothing to write home about – somewhat romantic, somewhat ‘seductive’, but I agree that what makes this song special is the music, the arrangement – and oh, those fabulous dancers. I spy Aileen Pringle, too, I think, next to Edwina.

          Oh, and who is that man doing the Jerry Lewis act? Does anybody know?

          • Sorry I misled You on that Tina eh! Did You find Tina finally? Which Jenny were You talking about? Helen’s Jenny? I know that Man doing the Jerry Lewis thing but for the Life of Me cannot get His Name He was just an Extra trying very hard indeed then to become a Character Artiste & often Wondered if He Succeeded? I have seen Him in Many Scenes in a Crowd or doing His Jerry Lewis Act poor chap!

          • It’s Mohan Jerry. The Jerry Lewis guy. He’s in Bhoot Bungla (as Jerry), Guide, Jewel Theif, Sholay and a bunch of movies.

            • Wow, Upendra! Thank you. I remembered seeing him elsewhere too, but didn’t know his name. Easy to remember, though, now that you’ve told me – he looks like Mohan (Choti) and acts like Jerry (Lewis), so ‘Mohan Jerry’ sounds just right! :-)

  12. all thes years have been marvelling at the background dancers and thanks to u Edwina ,now one can name thier face..otherwise they were nameless…as every one said..now when ever we watch a song dance ones attention will be to identify the dancers..
    One must u have sharp memory thatu can recall stil after many years thier names..

  13. So nice to read such an article.. Oscar Unger was my uncle and he passed on may 30th. As he belonged to my dads side of the family, we dint keep in touch as my dad passed away when I was 10. But I so clearly remember him, all cool with his beard and long hair and aunty Teresa who was the most loving of all… I remember the parties and the dances and him teaching me to jive on his knees so that he could be the right height for me…
    Without realising it, uncle Oscar and the rest of the Unger family have inspired me to be what I am today… I am now following in his footsteps and I am a dancer and choreographer and have been one for over 8 years.
    Thank u so much for such a lovely article.. I got to know more about my uncle and aunt from this than I could ever find out from anywhere..
    May his soul rest in peace…

    • What a touching little tribute, Avril. Edwina told me yesterday that Oscar had passed away, which came as quite a shock because just a little earlier this year, she’d shared photos of her with Oscar and Teresa at their home, and all three of them looked so sweet, and so happy to be together again.

      May his soul rest in peace, indeed. He was a very fine dancer and choreographer (and, from your anecdote about him teaching you to dance by jiving on his knees, he seems to have been a very sweet person too).

  14. Hi Madhu and Edwina . This is one of my favourite post and saved in my bookmarks.
    I keep reading it now and then and don’t know how many times. I feel so connected to this Era and have fallen in love with EDWINA and all her fellow dancers..Love them all.

    • Thank you, Sonee! That is SO sweet of you. I’ve got to know Edwina pretty well through Facebook, and she’s a wonderfully warm, friendly person. Utterly lovable.

  15. I know this article is about Edwina, but a quick question on Saroj Khan. I think I heard in one of the Radio Interviews by Saroj Khan that she was one of the dancers in the song “Nigahen Milane ko ji chahatha hai” from the movie Dil hi toh hai *ing Raj Kapoor & Nargis. Can someone confirm this? And if possible identify Saroj Khan in that group?

    Tks.

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