Name : Kanan Devi
Full / Real Name : Kananbala Devi
Born : 1916
Died : 
Notable Films : Jawab, Vidyapati
Contributed by :
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. An untrained singer when she entered films, she studied briefly with Ustad Allah Rakha in Lucknow. She was employed as a singer at Megaphone Gramaphone Company receiving further training from Bhishmadev Chatterjee. She later learnt Rabindra Sangeet with Anadi Dastidar.

Born Kananbala in 1916, she made her debut as a child actress with Joydev (1926). She later worked with Radha Films in films mainly by Jyotish Banerjee. P.C. Barua was unable to secure her services for the role of Paro in Devdas (1935) but she played the lead in his Mukti (1937). Mukti made her a star and led to a fruitful association with New Theatres. The success of Bidyapati (Bengali)/ Vidyapati /(Hindi) (1937) in which she gave perhaps her finest performance, made her the studio's top star. To quote critic Krishna Chaitanya,

"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 Devi remained the top star of New Theatres till she resigned in 1941 and began to freelance in Hindi and Bengali films. Jawab, in the following year saw perhaps her biggest ever hit song "duniya ye duniya hai tufan mail". But even though she was a singing sensation as she recalled music and song were secondary to the primary business of telling a story. In fact powerful narrative appeal made up for most of the technical and other deficiencies Bengal cinema may have suffered from at the time and was a key to the success of the New Theatres Films.

Kanan Devi turned producer with Shrimati Pics in 1949 and later launched the Sabhyasachi collective with the film Ananya (1949). Her own productions were mainly based on Sarat Chandra stories and were directed by her husband Haridas Bhattacharya.

Kanan Devi's last film was Indranath Srikanta-o-Annadadidi (1959). She wrote an autobiography Sabare Ami Nomi (1973) and in 1977, Kanan Devi, the first lady of the Bengal screen was awarded the Dadasaheb Phalke award for her contribution to Indian Cinema. She also worked as President of the Mahila Shilpi Mahal, an organization that helps aged and needy female artistes of yesteryear.