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Flashback: Enakshi Rama Rau and Mohan Bhavnani were partners in life and work


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A review of Franz Osten’s silent film Shiraz (1928) showers praise on actress Enakshi Rama Rau. About Rau, who played a princess and was paired with Himansu Rai, an American newspaper noted, “Miss Rau’s career is worth watching. Her performance in Shiraz alone was impressive.”

Rau is an “accomplished young woman who is also gifted with a level head, and a pioneering spirit”, the review noted, further declaring, “Miss Rau is a specimen of the new India.”


Shiraz, a fictional drama about the construction of the Taj Mahal, had been released in America in 1930, two years after its completion. Rau had a short-lived career before the camera, but she continued to be associated with cinema in direct and indirect ways.

Her second film, Vasantasena, was directed by Mohan Bhavnani in 1931. In the same year, Rau and Bhavnani were married, sparking off a relationship that was always very much a “working partnership”, in the words of their daughter-in-law Marjorie. (Their son Ashok, an architect who settled in the United States, died in 2015.)

Marjorie Bhavani remembers Rama Rau as “a cultured and gentle person” who had a “quiet and pleasant speaking voice”. Mohan Bhavani was “handsome and known for his affability and warmth”, Marjorie Bhavani added. “At six feet, he…

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