Kanan Bala


Popular As: Kanan Devi
Birth: 22nd April 1916
Death: 17th July 1992
First Film: Joydev
Last Film: -
Work Span: 1926 - 1955

Kanan Devi was among the early singing stars and her singing style usually in rapid tempo was instrumental in some of the biggest hits of New Theatres. Kanan Devi has the marvellous gift of smoothly carrying over to the melodic elaboration, the intimate expressiveness of speech occasional aspiration of vowels, accented speech rhythms, sensitive manipulation of volume.

Kanan Bala was born in 1916. Kanan Bala belonged to a low class family and after the death of her father she and her mother were left to earn and live on their own and they did all sort of works to drag on their lives. When she was only 10, a well wisher introduced her to Jyoti studio where she got a small role in Joydev (1926). She later worked with Raadha Films in films mainly by Jyotish Banerjee. After being noticed for the first time in Khooni Kaun? and Maa, she got entry in the New Theatres of Calcutta. She came in contact of maestro R. C. Boral who coached her and familiarized her in Hindi accent. She got her musical training under Ustad Alla Rakha. She was employed as a singer at Megaphone Gramaphone Company receiving further training from Bhishmadev Chatterjee. She later learnt Rabindra Sangeet with Anadi Dastidar.

New Theatres' P. C. Barua wanted her to play the lead in his Devdas (1935), but due to some reasons she could not act for the film. She later played the lead in Barau's Mukti (1937), which was a hit. Mukti made her a star and led to a fruitful association with New Theatres. The success of Vidyapati (1937) in which she gave perhaps her finest performance, made her the studio's top star. Films like Mukti (1937), Street Singer (1938), Vidyapati (1937), Jawaani Ki Reet (1939), Sapera (1939), Haar Jeet (1940), Lagan (1941) etc, of New Theatres established her as a super hit playback singer. It was her association with K. C. Dey whom people enjoyed the most.

Kanan Devi remained the top star of New Theatres till she resigned in 1941 and began to freelance in Hindi and Bengali films. M.P. Productions' Jawaab, in the following year saw perhaps her biggest ever hit. Her song 'Duniya Ye Duniya Toofan Mail..' rocked the entire nation that year. She repeated the same feast in Hospital (1943), Banphool (1945), Rajlakshmi (194?).
She moved to Bombay in 1948. She was seen for the last time in Hindi cinema in Chandrashekhar (1948) with Ashok Kumar. Kanan Devi turned producer with Shrimati Pictures in 1949 and later launched the Sabyasachi collective with the film Ananya (1949). Her own productions were mainly based on the stories of Sharat Chandra. Later she married Haridas Bhattacharya for a happy life and settled down in Calcutta. She also worked as President of the Mahila Shilpi Mahal, an organization that helps aged and needy female artistes of yesteryear and for the upliftment of Bengali cinema.

Kanan Devi, the first lady of the Bengal screen was awarded the Dadasaheb Phalke Award for her contribution to Indian Cinema, in 1976. Kanan Devi died on July 17th 1992.

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