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    Our Fair Lady: Celebrating Audrey Hepburn

    Our Fair Lady: Celebrating Audrey Hepburn

    Our Fair Lady: Celebrating Audrey Hepburn
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    By Manisha Lakhe   IST (Updated)


    Born on May 04, 1929, Audrey Hepburn brought her gamine charm to Hollywood that was being ruled by curvaceous women like Elizabeth Taylor and Grace Kelly.

    Givenchy’s little black dress became iconic because Holly Golightly wore it. And then it raised $923,187 for children in the City of Joy.
    The world fell in love with a runaway princess who threw away her tiara and stole herself a Roman Holiday. I am sure the makers of Vespa could have never thought of such a royal endorsement or that great and wonderful city an inspiration to countless fans. I wanted to become a journalist because that film made heroes of journalists (and not only because the super gorgeous Gregory Peck played one in the film).
    Sabrina asked, ‘I know you work in the real world and you’re very good at it. But that’s work. Where do you live, Linus?’ And just like the audiences across generations and across geographies agreed with the elegant Linus Larrabee when he asked Sabrina to save him from himself…
    Those skinny pants she wore once are still in fashion. And those who have seen her work with the children of the world know her as a true ambassador. Audrey Hepburn was a true star. You did hear murmurs about troubles with family but how many stars get to live flawless lives? I’d rather celebrate the exquisite wonder that she was.
    Born on May 04, 1929, Audrey Hepburn brought her gamine charm to Hollywood that was being ruled by curvaceous women like Elizabeth Taylor and Grace Kelly.
    I am sure I fell in love with Audrey Hepburn the way Gregory Peck did, and hoped someone, anyone would notice that I wore a handkerchief around my neck a la the runaway princess when I visited the Santa Maria di Cosmedin church in Rome to see for myself the Bocca della Verita.
    There were many legendary beautiful actresses like Grace Kelly and Vivien Leigh the time this film was made, but no one could play Princess Anne in Roman Holiday the way she did. Could anyone look as delightful in a barbershop?
    And each time you dream of a room somewhere to sit ‘abso blooming lutely ’ still, have lots of chocolates to eat, you have to, you must be singing, ‘Wouldn’t it be loverly!’
    Of course, Professor Higgins in My Fair Lady has a tough pupil in Eliza Doolittle, but when she has turned out to be so stunning (despite that hair!), who would blame you if you were gobsmacked took a shine to her?
    We’re luckier than most people because there are practically no power cuts in Bombay, but I have ruined many a candlelight dinners by remembering, ‘In Hartford, Hereford and Hampshire, Hurricanes hardly ever happen!’
    They said she was transformed when she saw the horrors of war in Somalia. She dedicated her life to become the voice of the abandoned children. But who can forget her stunning portrayal of a nun here?
    She was a chorus girl on stage (High Button Shoes and Sauce Tartare) before she came to her own in Gigi on Broadway and on film. The musicals seem rather old fashioned today, but you cannot forget her effervescence in the role.
    It is curious to see today how Audrey Hepburn acted with men twice her age in most films and yet made everyone fall in love with her. Her co-stars Humphrey Bogart was 54 when he played Linus Larrabee to her 25-year-old Sabrina; though he danced like he was ageless, Fred Astaire was 58 when he spun her 28-year-old self around like a raggedy ann doll in Funny Face; Henry Fonda was 51 to her 26 in War and Peace; Rex Harrison and Gary Cooper were both 56 years old when she acted with them in her 20s; Cary Grant, though an eternal heartthrob was almost 60 years old when she was 34 in Charade. Of course Bollywood lead actors still have the audacity to not age, and love being paired with younger and younger female leads even today. Thankfully in the role that made abandoned kittens the representative of lost and abandoned women themselves, Audrey Hepburn starred with a young George Peppard in Breakfast at Tiffany’s.
    Holly Golightly may be a Southern girl who wants to trick her way into Manhattan’s high society but inside she’s all heart. The next time you look at that iconic blue box with that diamond solitaire, remember the engagement ring that came out of cereal box for Holly… That Givenchy dress worn with a pair of long gloves and the cigarette at the end of a long holder has made Audrey Hepburn an icon of style. Little wonder then, that Audrey Hepburn has been voted the most beautiful woman of the 20th century.
    If you ever want to express yourself in dance while the one you have a crush on watches you, then you cannot forget how Audrey Hepburn defied Fred Astaire and danced with an abandonment that hints at her training as a ballet dancer. Her skinny pants and faux philosophy is a thing of pure joy to watch:
    A daughter of a British banker and a Dutch Baroness, Audrey Hepburn had witnessed the horrors of World War 2 (her father even went to prison in Britain for supporting the British Union of Fascism led by Sir Oswald Mosley). Her father abandoned them when she was very young and it affected Audrey Hepburn all her life. But in the sixties, with the help of the Red Cross, she located her father and supported him until his death. What a heart!
    She retired from films at the age of 38 to take care of her children, and yet when she was persuaded to act again in 1976, she showed up as Maid Marian to star opposite Sean Connery in Robin and Marian.
    A muse to Givenchy and an ambassador for children around the world for UNICEF, Audrey Hepburn will be remembered for many wonderful works. She is said to be so perfect, that there was no wrong picture anyone could ever take of her. Her cat in the movie lived through all of Holly. But Truman Capote, who write the role for Marilyn Monroe said Hepburn was wrong for Breakfast At Tiffany’s. What do you think?
    As Indian audiences, we have seen many remakes of her movies, movies inspired by her roles as the runaway princess (Chori Chori where Nargis plays the daughter of a rich man and Raj Kapoor the journalist; Aamir Khan and Pooja Bhatt starrer Dil Hai Ke Manta Nahin). No matter how many movies seduce you with the perfection of Audrey Hepburn, I have always loved her in Roman Holiday. Everything about that film leaves an imprint on your heart. And if you wish to ever learn to kiss the one you love goodbye, this would be training finals:
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