Helen Jairag Richardson is an Indian film actress and dancer of Anglo-Burmese descent, working in Hindi films. She has appeared in over 500 films. She is often cited as the most popular dancer of the item number in her time. She was the inspiration for four films and a book.
Helen was introduced to Bollywood when a family friend, an actress known as Cukoo, helped her find jobs as a chorus dancer in the films Shabistan and Awara (1951). She was soon working regularly and was featured as a solo dancer in films such as Alif Laila (1954), Hoor-e-Arab (1955), and the popular number "Mr. John O Baba Khan" in the film Baarish.
Helen got her break in 1958 when she performed the song "Mera Naam Chin Chin Chu" in Shakti Samanta's film Howrah Bridge, which was sung by Geeta Dutt. After that, offers started pouring in throughout the 1960s and 1970s. During her initial career, Geeta Dutt sang many songs for her. The Bollywood playback singer Asha Bhosle also frequently sang for Helen, particularly during the 1960s and the early 70s.
She was nominated for the Filmfare best supporting actress award in 1965 for her role in Gumnaam. She played dramatic roles such as the rape victim in Shakti Samanta's Pagla Kahin Ka (1970).
Writer Salim Khan helped her get roles in some of the films he was co-scripting with Javed Akhtar: Imaam Dharam, Don, Dostana, and Sholay. This was followed by a role in Mahesh Bhatt's film Lahu Ke Do Rang (1979), for which she won a Filmfare Best Supporting Actress Award. In 1999 Helen was given India's Filmfare lifetime achievement award.
Helen officially retired from movies in 1983, but she has since then appeared in a few guest roles such as Khamoshi: The Musical (1996) and Mohabbatein (2000). She also made a special appearance as the mother of real-life step-son Salman Khan's character in Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam.. She also appeared in Humko Deewana Kar Gaye in 2006. Helen was selected for the Padma Shri awards of 2009 along with Aishwarya Rai and Akshay Kumar.