January 17, 2020
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For three years, while writing his recent book Helen: The Life and Times of a H-Bomb, he tried to meet Bollywood’s immortal vamp. But she remained elusive. Here she is taking a walk down memory lane.

Four films and a book inspired by you. You must be really proud.
I haven't seen the book and I always feel these things are done when someone passes away. So I can't quite say.

Why don't we see you more often?
I just did a play recently. I've done TV and a few films. I have to be persuaded to act so if someone comes up with something exciting, I do take it up.

In most of your films, we've seen you play the stereotype Christian immoral girl—any regrets?
I never thought of it like that. It was work and that was my approach always.

Which are your career-defining films?
Lahu Ke Do Rang, Inteqam, Imaan Dharm, Afsana. Films which allowed me to act too.

Vamps come and go but why is there just one and only one Helen?
For me, my work was enjoyment. Gopikrishan used to say to me, "Kaalimaa, once the music starts Helen disappears and a new person takes over." I loved to dance—when the music was switched on, I don't know what happened to me. It was effortless.

You're Bollywood's original item girl. What do you make of the fresh crop?
See, times change so things are different. Today dance is different, it lacks form. Earlier, dance was sourced from the classical.

When did you start your dancing career?
One month before my 13th birthday and it was all play for me. I wasn't ambitious. I didn't even think it was a struggle—it was an experience and it was fun.

Who's moves do you like?
I like what Shiamak Davar does.

So, when not convinced to act, how do you spend time?
Practising yoga, tai chi, meeting up with friends, going to my farm in Panvel.

On hindsight, life has been...
Good, bad and ugly but I'm grateful for everything.

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