Aruna Irani was one of the undisputed queens of the item dance. With Helen and Bindu, Aruna ruled the Bollywood femme fatale roost playing the 'bad girl' as counterpoint to the movie's demure heroine. As such Aruna could always be expected to provide a cleavage shot or two and at least one spicy item dance. The holy trinity of Helen, Aruna, and Bindu epitomized The Vamp, the bad girl, and the item dance, that characterized Bollywood films of the late 60s and 1970s.
Aruna's major contribution to the evolution of the item dance was the sense of raw growling youthful sexuality she conveyed. If Helen could pout and 'Betty Boop' you into submission and Bindu was Bollywood's answer to Go Go boots, Aruna gave the distinct feeling she could not only growl like a cat, but also scratch like one too.
She began her career as a child actor in the film "Ganga Jamuna"(1961) with a small part in this blockbuster that starred Dilip Kumar and Vyjayathimala. In the mid sixties Aruna transformed into vamp characters providing item numbers and raising men's blood pressure. Because of her vamp status Aruna was never offered the lead roles in films but because of her acting talent she graduated to supporting roles and 'not so bad-bad girl roles, like the one she played in Raj Kapoor's "Bobby"(1973).
She was said to have led a 'wild' and affair filled social life that by today's standards would not be considered very scandalous. She continued to act even as the role of vamp went out of vogue. In fact she still has a vibrant and active career on both sides of the camera in Bollywood.
She has had a long and rich career that has spanned over 30 years. She is currently acting, directing, and producing, for both film and television. One of her most memorable recent roles was in Yash Chopra's "Dil To Pagal Hai"(1997) where she played Madhuri Dixit's mentor and spiritual conscience the dance teacher Tai. This role has a certain touching historical context as Aruni Irani's former incarnation as a 'vamp' item dance queen paved the way for Madhuri Dixit who is the current 'heroine' item dance queen.
Aruni is also a social activist who is involved and lends her name to AIDS awareness in India.