Friday, June 14, 2024

Kanan Devi, whose marriage was against Kolkata: The ticket price was 30 paise, then the fee was 5 lakhs; Rabindranath Tagore received threats when he gave a gift


a few moments agoAuthor: Ifat Qureshi

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There used to be a famous singer and actress of the 30-40s, her name was Kanan Devi. There was such an echo in his voice that filmmakers were ready to pay any price to cast him in films.

This was the era when films were made for just Rs 15 to 20 thousand and the ticket price was only 30 paise, but even in that era, Kanan Devi used to charge Rs 1 lakh for a song and Rs 5 lakh for a film.

This is the reason why she is called India's first female superstar. She is the first star of India as well as Bengal. Kanan Devi, the fourth woman to win the Dadasaheb Phalke Award, created many trends in Hindi cinema with her skills.

Gender pay gap is a big issue in Hindi cinema even today, but at that time Kanan Devi used to charge more than men. He is one of those early artists who were kept under tight security to protect him from his admirers. Also, it would not be wrong to call her the first boycotted actress of India.

Today, on Kanan Devi's 110th birth anniversary, know the story of the 5 biggest trends created by her-

Kanan Devi, born on 22 April 1916 in Kolkata, had a very painful childhood. According to Kanan Devi's autobiography Sabare Ami Nami, Kanan Devi, whom she considered her parents, was actually adopted by the couple.

When his adoptive father Ratan Chandra Das died at an early age, he had to face extreme poverty. The relatives who had given them shelter in their house used to treat them like servants.

Kanan Devi in ​​the poster of the film Vidyapati.  This 1937 film was a big hit, in which Prithviraj Kapoor and Pahari Sanyal were in important roles along with Kanan Devi.

Kanan Devi in ​​the poster of the film Vidyapati. This 1937 film was a big hit, in which Prithviraj Kapoor and Pahari Sanyal were in important roles along with Kanan Devi.

At the age of 7, Kanan Devi left those relatives' house and came to live with her mother in Howrah. Here, an acquaintance and theater artist Tulsi Banerjee introduced him to Madan Theatre. After joining the theater and doing small jobs, due to her talent, Kanan Devi was signed in the film Jaidev (1926) at a salary of Rs 5.

He further did small roles in some silent films like Shankaracharya (1927), Rishir Prem (1931). In the year 1931, Kanan Devi appeared for the first time in the color film Jor Baraat, which gave her overnight stardom. This was the era when only the lead actors of films used to give voice in the films.

By joining New Theatre, Kanan Devi gave voice to many excellent songs and emerged as a superhit singer. Kanan Devi used to handle films alone and most of her films used to be housefull.

This was the reason why she was given the status of the first superstar singer of Indian cinema.

Former Defense Minister V.K.  Kanan Devi with Menon.

Former Defense Minister V.K. Kanan Devi with Menon.

Kanan Devi's popularity was such that wherever she went, there was a crowd of people watching. This was the reason why the New Theater people kept him under tight security. Kanan Devi is the first actress who was given security.

Seeing his popularity increasing, UK's largest recording company Gramophone signed him. Kanan Devi's songs were liked a lot in foreign countries also.

According to the book Kanan Devi – First Superstar of Indian Cinema, written by writer Mekhala Sen Gupta in 2015, Kanan Devi is India's first millionaire actress. In the 30s, she used to charge many times more fees than men.

Research shows that a veteran artist like Prithviraj Kapoor was paid a fee of Rs 70 in the 30s, however, Kanan Devi used to charge Rs 1 lakh for just one song in the 30s. Whereas if he had to be cast in a film, he would have been paid a fee of up to Rs 5 lakh.

This amount was huge because at that time most of the films were made for Rs 10-15 thousand, whose tickets were also only 30 paise. In such a situation, Kanan Devi had created history by charging a fee of Rs 5 lakh.

Even today, in Hindi cinema, women are paid much less than men, but Kanan Devi broke this tradition about 70 years ago.

According to the report of Scroll India, Kanan Devi was the biggest Indian actress of the 30-40s. The clothes worn by him used to bring a new era of fashion. Fashion icon Kanan Devi is the first actress whose posters were sold.

There used to be a competition to buy his posters. Many youngsters used to put up posters of Kanan Devi in ​​their rooms.

Kanan Devi did modeling for the first time for Lux soap ad.

Kanan Devi did modeling for the first time for Lux soap ad.

She mostly used to wear traditional clothes, but her blouses were very designer. His hairstyle and hair accessories were different in every film. Jewelery was also different and designer.

Whenever his films were released, women used to come to see his clothes and jewelery and then get clothes made like him.

Kanan Devi had mentioned a controversy in her personal life in her Bengali book Sabare Ami Nami, published in 1973. According to the book, Kanan Devi married Ashok Maitra, who was 11 years older than her, in 1940. There was opposition to their marriage throughout Kolkata. Actually, Ashok Maitra was the son of Kolkata's Brahmo Samaj leader and educationist Heramba Maitra.

Heramba Chandra Maitra was a preacher of Brahmo Samaj.  As a speaker and lecturer, he propagated Brahmo Samaj in England, New York and Chicago.

Heramba Chandra Maitra was a preacher of Brahmo Samaj. As a speaker and lecturer, he propagated Brahmo Samaj in England, New York and Chicago.

Heramba Maitra, who held a high position in the society, was against making Kanan Devi, who worked in the film world, his daughter-in-law, but after his death, his son Ashok Maitra and Kanan Devi got married. As soon as the news of their marriage was published in the newspapers, the Brahmo Samaj strongly opposed it. Protests against Kanan Devi started taking place all over Kolkata.

Wherever Kanan Devi went, slogans were raised against her. Leaders of Brahmo Samaj used to put pressure on Ashok Maitra and Kanan Devi to break the marriage, even though divorce was not even legally recognized at that time.

Due to social pressure, Kanan Devi had almost stopped leaving the house. In this way, Kanan Devi became the first actress in India whose marriage was opposed and boycotted.

Kanan Devi's book My Homage to All (in Bengali- Sabare Ami Nami).

Kanan Devi's book My Homage to All (in Bengali- Sabare Ami Nami).

According to the book, Kanan Devi had given voice to many songs written by Rabindranath. In such a situation, both were acquaintances. When Rabindranath Tagore congratulated Kanan Devi on her marriage, she sent a photograph to Tagore along with her autograph. As soon as this news came out, Rabindranath Tagore started receiving threatening calls.

Kanan Devi had written in her memoir that after this incident, whenever she got an offer to sing the songs of Rabindranath Tagore, she was filled with sadness thinking that a great poet had to face trouble for giving an autograph.

Kanan Devi lived at a house located at A-11, Kabir Road in Kolkata. Her husband Ashok Maitra also lived in the same house. There was a time when people started misbehaving with Kanan Devi on the sets of films.

Many people used to ask him personal questions, due to which he stopped working in many films. The protest also affected his married life. After some time, Ashok Maitra also became against Kanan Devi working in films.

With time, restrictions started being imposed on Kanan Devi. He was not even allowed to use the phone. The controversies also affected his professional life.

Amidst controversies, Kanan Devi's film Hospital, released in 1943, flopped badly.

Amidst controversies, Kanan Devi's film Hospital, released in 1943, flopped badly.

Ultimately, upset with her husband's changed attitude, Kanan Devi ended her relationship with him in 1945. After separating from her husband, Kanan Devi appeared in the 1947 film Chandrashekhar opposite Ashok Kumar. When this film also flopped, Kanan stopped signing films as an actress.

In the year 1949, Kanan Devi married Haridas Bhattacharya, ADC to the Governor of Bengal, for the second time.

Kanan Devi with husband Haridas Bhattacharya adopting son Siddharth.

Kanan Devi with husband Haridas Bhattacharya adopting son Siddharth.

When Kanan left working in films and started her own production house Shrimati Productions, her husband left his government job and helped her. Both of them made many films, but when Kanan Devi started getting more fame than Haridas Bhattacharya, the fights between the two started increasing.

Fed up with his wife getting too much attention, Haridas Bhattacharya left Kanan Devi's house in 1987. The relationship between the two had deteriorated so much that when Kanan Devi died on 17 July 1992, Haridas Bhattacharya, despite being in the city, did not even come to see her for the last time. He had a son Siddharth from this marriage.

Kanan Devi, who appeared in about 57 films like Vidyapati, Street Singer, Sapera, Jawani Ki Reet, Parajay, Lagaan, Parichay, Jawab and became the voice of 40 songs, was honored with Padma Shri in the year 1968.

In the year 1976, she became the fourth woman to win the Dadasaheb Phalke Award. Even though the new generation is unaware of Kanan Devi's name and her contribution in films, in her time she had left a deep impression as a singer, actress and strong woman. That K.L. Sehgal used to be the first choice of stalwarts like PC Barua, Pahari Sanyal, Ashok Kumar.

Kanan Devi with Ashok Kumar in the poster of the film Chandrashekhar.

Kanan Devi with Ashok Kumar in the poster of the film Chandrashekhar.

After the death of Kanan Devi, Lata Mangeshkar launched the album Tribute 2.0- My Tribute to Immortals in 1994 as a tribute to her. In this album, he gave voice to Kanan Devi's songs Ae Chand Chhup Na Jaana and Zindagi Toofan Mail.

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