“The Longest Kiss: Devika Rani and Himanshu Rai’s Pioneering 1933 Film Karma Makes Cinematic History”

Rani and himanshu rai made cinematic history when they starred in the 1933 film karma. rani’s character leaned over her comatose lover and tried to resuscitate him with a kiss, which was reported to be more than four minutes long. the couple have been the subject of much myth-making in india ever since. when the film was released in 1933, it was attended by prominent members of the british aristocracy, and the reviews were glowing, particularly those of rani.

2020 book the longest kiss: the life and times of devika rani won the national film award for best book on indian cinema. devika rani was widely known as “the first lady of indian cinema” and her relationship with her first husband, himanshu rai, began to unravel when she discovered he was married before and had a daughter. despite running away with a co-star, she was welcomed back with open arms to bombay talkies and produced many superhit films.

Rani and himanshu rai’s intention behind creating their film karma was to use it as a showpiece to demonstrate that quality films could be produced in bombay. when world war two caused the german staff of bombay talkies to be detained, devika rani ran the studio and gave breaks to madhubala and dilip kumar. in 1945, she sold her shares, married svetoslav roerich and moved to the himalayan state of himachal pradesh, and eventually bangalore. the kiss may have not been the longest ever in a bollywood film, but it has become a popular myth over the years.


By Evey Lovelace

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