Welcome to the World of Kanan Devi
by Dr. Jyoti Prakash Guha
Kanandevi, the Evergreen Melody and Movie Queen
Towards the end of the great war, feature film production started in Bengal. The female roles were played by men to start with and later, women joined the stage and films. These women were either Anglo-Indians, who took up the profession willingly or else they were brought from the red light areas of Calcutta. Film acting being considered undignified, womenfolk from respectable families would not dream of acting in public (although plays were staged by advanced families for selected audiences, notably the Tagore family). Film makers depended heavily on the nautch girls to do the female roles. Men like Dhirendranath Ganguly (D.G. as he was better known) and Dada Saheb Phalke of course got their wives and daughters to act in films). KANAN’s roots were also outside the society. It is now proved that her first record was published from HMV. Who exactly groomed her in those days is something that we will probably never know, but some researchers have named Ascharmoyee Dassi for her earliest songs.