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Jamuna Barua is the first Paro of the talkies era. She was only fourteen when she got the role in ‘Devdas. ‘The actress was married to legendary actor-director Prathamesh Barua with whom she had three sons— Deb Kumar, Rajat Kumar and Prasun Kumar. Jamuna Barua received felicitations from the Government of India and the State Government of Assam for being the original Paro of Indian talkies. She was known for her stoic presence, slim figure and long face.


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Born on October 10, 1919, Jamuna Barua, also known as Jumna or Jumuna Devi, was the fourth of the six daughters. She lived with her father, Puran Gupta and her sisters in a village near Agra, India. Jamuna came to Kolkata with her family.


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She did a small role in Prathamesh Chandra Barua’s directorial debut, ‘Mohabbat Ki Kasauti’ (1934) in Hindi and Rooplekha (1934) in Bengali.


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#GoldenFrames: Jamuna Barua, the original 'Paro' of Indian cinema

Rumour has it that Prathamesh and Jamuna were already romantically involved when the movie went on the floors. During the first day of the ‘Devdas’ shoot, when the lead actress Kanan Devi couldn’t make it on the set, Jamuna was asked to take her place immediately. Jamuna was only fourteen when she played the role of Paro.


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#GoldenFrames: Jamuna Barua, the original 'Paro' of Indian cinema

She also used to live with P.C. Barua during that time. P.C Barua made ‘Devdas’ thrice—in Bengali, Assamese and Hindi, respectively, in 1935. The movie was based on Sharat Chandra Chattopadhyay’s eponymous novel. The Hindi version made by Barua starred the legendary Kundan Lal Saigal in the lead role. The movie is the oldest version, the first-ever talkie version of ‘Devdas’ available in India, starring P.C Barua as Devdas, Jamuna Barua as Parvati (Paro) and Chandrabati Devi as Chandramukhi.

(Photo: Still from the movie Devdas)


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#GoldenFrames: Jamuna Barua, the original 'Paro' of Indian cinema

Barua was already married twice before he met Jamuna. The couple worked in several movies together, such as ‘Grihadaha’ (1936), ‘Maya’ (1936), ‘Uttarayan’ (1941), ‘Chander Kalanka’ (1943).


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#GoldenFrames: Jamuna Barua, the original 'Paro' of Indian cinema

Jamuna also worked with other filmmakers for movies like ‘Debar’ (1943), ‘Nilanguriya’ (1943), Malancha (1953) and Phulwari (1953). She made several memorable movies in Assamese, Bengali and Hindi, such as ‘Amiri’, ‘Mukti’, ‘Adhikar’ and ‘Sesh Uttar’. She stopped acting after her husband P.C. Barua died in 1951 at the age of forty-eight.

(Photo: Poster from the movie ‘Ranee’)


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#GoldenFrames: Jamuna Barua, the original 'Paro' of Indian cinema

After her husband’s death, Jamuna only completed the pending shoots and eventually withdrew from the industry. Her world had turned upside-down with three children. Jamuna Barua spent the rest of her life after her husband’s demise as a housewife, busy bringing up her children.

(Photo: Still from the movie ‘Devdas’)


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#GoldenFrames: Jamuna Barua, the original 'Paro' of Indian cinema

The actress had to fight the legal battle against the influential Royal Guaripur estate to secure rights for her children. Jamuna got not only the ownership of the estate but also the adjoining land. The actress attended the centenary celebration of her husband P.C. Barua years later.


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#GoldenFrames: Jamuna Barua, the original 'Paro' of Indian cinema

Her last days were not very comfortable as she was bedridden for more than six months before her death. Jamuna passed away at eighty-six due to prolonged old age-related ailments at her South Kolkata residence on November 24, 2005. She was survived by her three sons. Jamuna was cremated at the Keoratola Burning Ghat in Kolkatta.

(Photo: Still from the movie ‘Manzil’)


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