indian cinema heritage foundation

Latika

Artists
  • Real Name: Hungu-Lamou
  • Born: 13 October 1924 (Darjeeling)
  • Primary Cinema: Hindi
  • First film: Parakh (1944)
  • Spouse: Gope
  • Children: Gope Jr, Lalit, Sindy Bell
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Latika was born as Hungu Lamou on 13 October, 1924 in Darjeeling to a Tibetan mother and Australian father. Her father was employed by the Maharaja to train his race horse. She lost him at a very young age, and her mother remarried after a while. She spent a majority of her childhood in Kalimpong Girl’s orphanage where she was christened as Agnes by the Scottish missionary who ran the orphanage. Her mother and deceased father and other relatives practiced Buddhism, whereas her stepfather was a Protestant. Evidently, she grew up in a religious environment. Later in life, she came across a Jehovah’s Witness who motivated her to explore this sect of Christianity and eventually she converted into one.

An engineer by profession, her step-father was transferred to Bombay, so the family settled there when Latika was a teenager. Her neighbor, a kathak dancer was working in the film industry who inspired Latika to join the industry too. On a visit to Minerva Studios, she was spotted by Sohrab Modi who offered her the opportunity to act in Parakh (1944). He also gave her stage name ‘Latika’.

Some of her popular films were Dr Kumar (1944), Laat Saheb (1946), Saathi (1946), Zanjeer (1947), Chalte Chalte (1947), Gopinath (1948), and Manzoor (1949). Gopinath was a landmark film in her career where she played a femme fatale. The film also starred Raj Kapoor. In Shaukat Rizvi’s Jugnu (1947) starring Dilip Kumar and Noor Jehan, she danced to the popular Desh ki purkaif rangi si fizao me kahi.

On 5 February 1949, she got married to veteran comic actor Gope under the Civil Marriage Act. A Film India article mentions that their grand reception was held at Shree Sound Studios and was attended by many film personalities. The party carried on underneath a moonlit sky on the Juhu beach. The couple had two sons, Gope Jr and Lalit. Gope too started practicing her faith and took to the Bible every morning, as the message of being kind to others spoke to him.

The untimely death of Gope led her to join her other siblings in America where she later remarried. Latika had a daughter Sindy Bell in her second marriage and leads a happy life surrounded by people she loves.