Kanan Debi was born in Howrah on 22nd April, 1916. Her father was Ratan Chandra Das and mother was Rajbala Debi. Her father died when she was only 5 yrs old. For that reason she couldn’t continue her studies. Her study ended at the very primary level.
Kanan Devi was talented in singing from her childhood. This talent brought her in the world of cinema. When she was only 10 yrs old she came to Madan Theatre to act in a silent movie “Joydeb” in 1926 and got a payment of Rs. 5/- as remuneration. That was her debut film. Her deut film in talkie was in “Jore Baraat”. It was made in the year 1931 and was directed by her neighbour Jyotish Bandopadhay. A kissing scene between her and the hero was shot for that film, but due to some technical problem the scene was deleted from the film. She was famous overnight due to her singing and acting. After that she acted in many films. Kanan Debi has also acted in male roles. Her acting in “Manmoyee Girls School” was highly acclaimed. She learnt singing from Vishmadeb Chattopadhay, Anadi Dastidar, Pankaj Mallick, Ustad Ali Akbar, Dhiren Mitra, Kazi Nazrul Isalam and Tarapada Chakraborty. She left acting in the year 1964. She created her own production company “Sreemati Pictures”. Under that banner many films were produced of which most were based on Sarat Chandra’s novels.
She was one of the founders of “Mahila Shilpi Mahal” she was also associated with the spastic society. She received Gold Disc from HMV in 1977. She was titled “Padmashree” by the Govt. of India in the year 1968. In 1991 Rabindra Bharati University honored her with D.Lit. She visited Hollywood twice to learn different concept of making and producing. She first married lawyer Ashok Mitra. Her second husband was Haridas Bhattacharya who became also a film director after leaning his Central Govt. job. She was a mother of a son. In 1976 she received the highest film award of our country Dada Saheb Phalke Award. She died in Kolkata on July 17th, 1992. The name of her auto-biography is, “Sabare Ami Nami”.