We returned from abroad via Bombay. I admit to the ostentatious glamour of the film world there and the intoxication and heady glamour that accompanies it. I also admit to the dearth of deeper imagination or an ascetic dedication to work. But having admitted these, one cannot but admire the tireless effort of actors in Bombay to maintain their bodies. A beautiful body is an asset, to feed the heart while starving the eye is almost impossible…Of course such admiration of physical beauty might appear excessive, still, a beautiful woman or a handsome man will always attract the eye. Bombay’s stars are so captivating because they do not shy away from giving their utmost to keep their looks. Exercise, swimming, riding, dancing and yoga fall within the essential activities of their daily lives. I like this vitality very much. The artistes of Bengal should give more attention to this aspect. My Homage to All, Kanan Devi.
Excerpt from Kanan Devi’s autobiography. Kanan herself in her youth had a lot of physical activities as part of her schedule, perhaps here she is emphasising the glamour that has always been attached to the Bombay film industry due to its approach to appearance as opposed to Bengali cinema.
Her autobiography, My Homage to All, is fairly detailed and provides glimpses of her life as an actress and then as a producer. Parts of it are quite frank e.g. her recounting of sexual harassment on the sets or the attraction she felt towards her future husband.
There has been a recent biography of hers (by Mekhala Sengupta) which fills in the gaps in the autobio and is on my reading list.
PS: I get what Kanan is saying but my heart still belongs to Bengali aesthetics:)