On Kanan Devi

Kanan Devi – the Bengali singer and actress was born in 1916, in Howrah, West Bengal-India.  She is considered great among the earliest singing stars of the Indian cinema.  In fact, she provided the biggest hits of New Theatre, Calcutta (Kolkota).


In the silent era films, Kanan Devi came as a child artist.  It was a well-wisher, by the name of Tulsi Banerji, who introduced Kanan Devi to the world of acting – when she was only ten years old.  As a kid, she had a small role in the film, Jaidev.


Kanan Devi made a successful transition into talkie films, and her work was appreciated in the film: Jorebarat, in the year 1931.  Success followed Kanan Devi with the films: Khooni Kaun and Maa (1934).


Kanan Devi’s biggest regret was that she was unable to play the lead role in New Theatre’s P.C. Barua’s film: Devdas.  This was due to the fact that in 1935, the actress cum singer had contractual obligations with another film company.


Her films ran with packed audiences, and she had to be under constant protection when she travelled on account of her massive fan following.  Over the years, Kanan Devi was coached to become well-acquainted with the Hindi accent.  She received intensive training in music – Allah Rakha trained her in the initial stages.  The singer also learnt Rabindra Sangeet under Anadi Dastidar.


Kanan Devi remained the prized star of New Theatres, until she resigned in 1941 – to become a freelance artist for Bengali and Hindi films.  She worked with stalwarts like K.L. Saigal, Pankaj Mullick and Ashok Kumar.  Her songs: aye chand chup na jana, duniya yeh duniya, hai toofan mail were very well received – among so many other songs which she rendered with skill and emotion.


Kanan Devi married more than once.  She raised, Siddharth, in Calcutta (Kolkata) – whose father was Haridas Bhattacharjee.  She had married the gentleman around 1949, after divorcing, Ashok Maitra.


Kanan Devi received many honours for her contribution to Indian cinema.  When she passed away – the world of cinema lost a great artist.


A postage stamp, bearing Kanan Devi’s photo was released to honour her in 2011.

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