Kanan Devi was a lovely Indian actress and also a singer. She was among the early singing stars of Indian Cinema. She is also created as the first star of Bengali cinema. She used to sing in rapid tempo which was used instrumentally in some of the biggest hits of New Theatres, Kolkata. The films of New Theatres which was owned by Biren Sircar which established her as a jsuperhit singer and her films ran to gather audience. This lovely actress died on 17th July 1992 in Bellevue Clinic, Calcutta when she was around seventy-six years of age.
Kanan was born on 22nd April 1916 in Hawrah, West Bengal. Her Autobiography was named, ”Sobarei Ami Nami”. Ratan Chandra Das and Rajobala, were her parents After the death of her adoptive father, Ratan Chandra Das, young Kanan and Rajobala were simply left to fend for themselves. Her life story was a true tale of rags of Riches. Some people say that her schooling (not completed) from Howrah’s St. Agnes’ Convent School. Kanan got introduced to Tulsi banarjee in the stage of Jaidev (1926) who became her well wisher. In the play she was casted in a small role. Following this she appeared in Shankaracharya in 1927. She was known as Kanan Bala. From the silent film roles as a child artist, Kanan made the successful transition into talkie films and was noticed with Jorebarat (1931), Manomoyee Girls School, Khooni Kaun and Maa (1934). She had a regret of not working with Radha Banu in Devdas (1935) as a lead actress.
The films she did five films with Madan Theatres productions like (1926-1932) Rishir Prem (1931), Jorebarat (1931), Vishnu Maya (1932) and Prahlad, playing even male leads in the last two.
Later she worked with Radha Films from 1933 to 1936 then with New Theatres from 1937 to 1941, with MP Productions 1942 to 1948 and finally set up her own label Shrimati Pictures, 1949 to 1965.
She was featured with Jyotish Banerjee included Joydev (1926), Rishir Prem (1931), Jorebarat (1931), Vishnumaya (1932), Kantahaar (1935) and Manomoyee Girls School (1935).Also her films with Prafulla Ghosh were Sree Gouranga (1933), Char Darvesh (1933), Maa (1934) and Hari Bhakti. Other films were with Radha Film Company were Kanthahar (1935), Krishna Sudama (1936), Bishabriksha (1936) and Char Darvesh (1933).She worked in years with New Theatres, Calcutta from 1937, she played the lead in Barua’s Mukti (1937), which was perhaps her finest performance, making her the studio’s top star. Apart from Mukti, she worked with Vidyapati, Saathi (1938), Street Singer (1938), Sapera (1939), Jawani Ki Reet (1939), Parajay (1939), Abhinetri (1940), Lagan (1941), Parichay (1941) and Jawab (1942). From this she became known as Kanan Devi.
She got trained by the music maestro Rai Chand Boral who not only coached and familiarized her in the Hindi accent, but experimented with many classical Western and Indian forms in his music. She got her initial musical training under Alla Rakha. She got employed at Megaphone Gramaphone Company, receiving further training under Bhishmadev Chatterjee. Later she learnt the Rabindra Sangeet Anadi Dastidar. She became more popular and Kanan remained the top star of New Theatres until she resigned her contract in 1941 and began to freelance in Bengali and Hindi films. She worked along with K. L. Saigal, Pankaj Mullick, Pramathesh Barua, Pahari Sanyal, Chabi Biswas and Ashok Kumar.
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