Devika Rani Chaudhuri, usually known as Devika Rani, was an actress in Indian films who was active during the 1930s and 1940s. Widely acknowledged as the first lady of Indian cinema, Devika Rani had a successful film career that spanned 10 years. Born into a wealthy, anglicized Indian family, Devika Rani was sent to boarding school in England at age nine and grew up in that country. In 1928, she met Himanshu Rai, an Indian film-producer, and married him the following year. She assisted in costume design and art direction for Rai’s experimental silent film A Throw of Dice (1929).
Both of them then went to Germany and received training in film-making at UFA Studios in Berlin. Rai then cast himself as hero and her as a heroine in his next production, the bilingual film Karma (1933), made simultaneously in English & Hindi. The film premiered in England in 1933, elicited interest there for a prolonged kissing scene featuring the real-life couple, and flopped badly in India. The couple returned to India in 1934, where Himanshu Rai established a production studio, Bombay Talkies, in partnership with certain other people. The studio produced several successful films over the next 5–6 years, and Devika Rani played the lead role in many of them. Her on-screen pairing with Ashok Kumar became popular in India.
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