Padma Khanna danced Her Way Into Stardom

Padma Khanna
Padma Khanna

Padma Khanna, a trained Kathak exponent who turns a year older on March 10 , was  a better dancer than all the other dancing stars  of the era.She could sizzle in cabarets and mujras without ever looking vulgar.Many  iconic  songs of  the dance genre were filmed on her.

To begin with she had a minor role in  the Biswajit starrer Biwi Aur Makaan  in 1966 where she  was  billed as ‘Kumari Padma’. The really big break  was the  bold  striptease in Vijay Anand’s  Johnny Mera Naam. The song Husn ke lakhon rang  aag  hai yeh badan kaun sa  ang dekhoge,and her  provocative  but  never  obscene dance moves as she stripped down  to a  bikini in front of a drooling Premnath, placed  Padma  on the perch of the prancing pyramid.

The offers poured  in.  And Padma  made  sway while the  song shined.Padma’s next big dance hit was another ‘rang’ and ‘ang’ sizzler by Asha Bhosle:   Sanwala  rang hai mera reshmi ang hai mera in  Manmohan Desai’s Rampur Ka  Lakshman.

During the same year Padma  made an  “invisible impact” in  Kamal amrohi’s  Pakeezah wherein Meena  Kumari, too ill to do the frenzied climactic Mujra,was given a  body double.Yes, that was Padma Khanna with a veil covering her face dancing in  Teer-e-nazar dekhenge.

Padma’s big performance-oriented  opportunity came  in  Rajshri productions’ Saudagar where she  replaced Mumtaz  as  the  coquettish Phool Bano and danced her way into the  audiences’ hearts with Asha  Bhosle’s  Sajna hai mujhe  and Kyon  layo sajan paan , and Latajii’s Mera hoon  phool bano.

In the Shashi Kapoor  starrer  Naina , Padma Khanna and  the  film’s leading lady Moushumi Chatterjee  perform separately to the same  Shankar-Jaikishan  tune Hone  lagi hai raat jawaan.We can clearly see who among the two is  the dancer.

 In Yash Chopra’s Daag ,Padma Khanna  had one  rumbustious Punjabi folk  number Ni main yaar manana ni in Lataji’s song. So  powerful was  the impact of Padma’s  steps  that  to this day  audiences   don’t know the identity  of the other dancer with Padma in the  song.

While Lataji sang for Padma and Minoo Purshottam for the  other dancer  in Ni main yaar manana ni, Padma had to make do with  Usha Khanna  while Mumtaz got Lataji  in their catchy dance  number together  Din raat jale ankhiyan in the film Pardesi.

Padma’s  less popular  dance numbers that  you  may like to check out include Bhor hotey balam chale jayenge(a rare Madan Mohan Mujra in Sultana  Daku ), Kaanp rahi main(Joshila), Hamra balma beimaan(Kotwaal Saab) and Are mere yaar mujhe ttham(Chingari). In the last mentioned Padma actually got veteran actor David to his feet.

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