wiki:Devika Rani

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Devika Rani

Born in Waltair (now Visakhapatnam), Devika Rani came from a distinguished background: she was the great-grandniece of the Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore and her father, Col. M. N. Chaudhuri, was the first Indian Surgeon-General of Madras. Her mother's name was Leela.

She completed her early schooling in the early 1920s. She then studied drama at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) and the Royal Academy of Music in London, UK, where she won scholarships. She also studied architecture, textile and decor design, and apprenticed under Elizabeth Arden. Here, through her Brahmo connections, she met with scriptwriter Niranjan Pal who would eventually write many of her most successful screen roles.

Devika Rani married Indian producer and actor Himanshu Rai in 1929. Together they starred in Karma (1933). They soon founded the Bombay Talkies film studio, along with retainers Niranjan Pal and Franz Osten, whose films challenged the caste system. In addition to Devika Rani, other notable actors to work for Bombay Talkies at one point or another included Ashok Kumar and Madhubala.

In 1936, Devika Rani eloped with her lover actor Najam-ul-Hassan. Himanshu Rai somehow managed to bring her back but her paramour did not return. And the studio head Himanshu Rai called upon his laboratory assistant Ashok Kumar to take the leading man's part and thus began a six-decade-long acting career for that actor. Ashok Kumar later starred with the actress in Achhut Kanya (1936). This, her most notable film, is the story of a relationship between an untouchable girl (played by herself) and a Brahmin boy (played by Ashok Kumar).

Devika Rani is also accredited for having acted in the longest kissing scene in the movie world with her husband Himanshu Rai in Karma (1933). It was 4 minutes long and very controversial in the then culturally orthodox India.