By Shefali Jha Last Updated:
The flagbearer of women-oriented roles, the brand ambassador of commercial success, an artist par excellence and a noble human being – Asha Parekh - is someone Bollywood can never thank enough for her contributions. The former President of CINTAA (Cine and TV Artistes Association), the first female Chairperson of the Censor Board, producer of offbeat and empowering serials like – Kora Kagaz and Kangan, distributor of numerous hit films; Asha Parekh has done it all, seen it all.
So, it did not come as a surprise when the golden jubilee diva decided to pen down her autobiography and share it with the world. And boy! What a biography has it been! Ever since its publication, every chapter/episode in Asha Parekh’s life and the book has been making headlines. Not the one to mince her words, Parekh, has always been vocal about her chemistry with her former co-stars, men, Nasir Hussain and matters close to heart. Let’s take a look:
A successful and powerful businesswoman, Asha Parekh, is just the opposite at heart – soft and mellow. Talking about the kind of person she is, the veteran actress revealed, “I’m an emotional person. I follow my heart, not my mind. I tend to brood when someone hurts me or when I believe I’ve hurt someone. I come across as a tough person. But I’m not all that strong."
Even though everything was running at its pace for her practice, but the loss of her parents at a young age had pushed her into depression. Talking about that phase, Parekh, said, “It was a very bad phase for me. I lost my parents. I was totally alone and I had to manage everything all alone. It did put me in depression. I was feeling miserable and had these (suicidal) thoughts. Then I got out of it. It is a struggle, I had to take aid of the doctors to get out of it.”
She further added, “It is lonesome. On the top you are always lonely. I was very lucky I had lovely parents with me. My mother was the backbone of my career, my life. So after losing her, I got into depression. It’s a huge relief that the phase is over.”
Though she was considered a lucky mascot, whoever she worked with, for Parekh, Shammi Kapoor remained her favourite co-star ever. Remembering the equation, she had once said, “I have worked with a lot of them, and they were all great. But since I did my first film with Shammi Kapoor ji, he is my favourite. I was very shy to face the camera. In my first few shots with Shammi chacha, I was very nervous. He was very patient with me and guided me in every shot. He especially taught me how to lip sync and emote in the songs. It wasn’t difficult for us to act, I used to call him chacha outside the film and when we were shooting, we were professionals actors. So nothing bothered us.”
She further quipped, "Geetaji (Bali, his late wife and actor) used to be around on the sets of Dil Deke Dekho. She’d do my make-up when my make-up man didn’t arrive. She’d pick me up, put me around her shoulders and move around as I was quite young. She’d tell Shammiji, ‘Let’s adopt her!’ Since then I began calling them chacha and chachi. Today I call Neelaji (Shammi’s second wife) chachi.”
Talking about the craze of losing weight among actress today, Asha Parekh recalled a funny incidence, “I had to wear a cowboy attire and tuck my shirt in for the song Aap se miliye in Pyar Ka Mausam. As you know, I’m heavy from below. I’ve got big hips! So, I consulted Dr Jassawalla. I lost about 15 kilos with his recommended diet and massages. I’d visit him at 6 am everyday and from there go to the set. As I was asked to eat very little, I’d get cranky. Nasir saab would joke, “Issko roti dikha do! Yeh theek ho jaayegi!”"
Having said that, Parekh feels, “Wearing gowns at events – well, I find that a bit ridiculous! Sarees add such grace. A woman can look dignified and sensuous at the same time.”
Talking about how her strong on-screen persona changed things for her in real life, she said, “Men used to get frightened to talk to me. They found it hard to compliment me. But I remember when I wore the white sharara for the song ‘Achcha toh hum chalte hain’ in ‘Aan Milo Sajna’, J Om Prakash saab (director) remarked, ‘You’re looking so nice’. He even got a similar outfit made for his daughter Pinky (Roshan) when she got married to Rakesh Roshan.”
Asha Parekh enjoyed a humongous fan following in that age and era. Recalling a creepy Chinese fan, she said, “I used to get fan mail by the gunny bags. There was this Chinese fellow, who had plonked himself near my gate and just wouldn’t go. He kept tabs on when I came, when I left. Naturally, I started getting scared. So I’d dunk in when my car entered the gate. When the neighbours asked him to go, he brandished his knife saying, ‘I’ll kill you! I’ve come to marry her’. I called up the police commissioner. They put him in Arthur Road Jail. From there, he wrote a letter asking me to bail him out. It was creepy.”
After her parents, the person she loved and cared for the most was her director, mentor and producer – Nasir Hussain. Talking about her love for him, Parekh said, “Yes, Nasir Saab was the only man I ever loved. It would’ve been worthless to write an autobiography if I didn’t write about the people who mattered in my life.”
On being asked why she did not marry him when she loved him so immensely, the Love in Tokyo actress said, “I was never a home breaker. There was never any ill will between me and Nasir Saab’s family. In fact, I was so happy to see Nusrat (Hussain’s daughter) and Imran Khan (grandson) at my book launch. I feel I’ve lived my life decently and without hurting anyone.”
Further delving into the topic, she said, “It was destined that I should not marry. My mother did search for grooms. But it just didn’t work out. I’m very happy I’m not married. I can see the stress that exists between parents and children today. My co-author Khalid Mohamed handled the whole episode so discreetly and gracefully.”
Talking about her decision to stay single throughout her life, Asha Parekh said, “I don’t miss a companion. I’m not an introvert. I’ve friends and I talk to them. If marriage is not in your destiny, your spouse may leave you or he may die. And you may be left by yourself again. You come alone and you go alone. If you’re not destined to have a husband, you won’t have one."
If you wish to know more revelations about these episodes of her life, grab your copy of – The Hit Girl!