April 5, 2017 4:54:05 pm
He is the Dabbang Khan of tinsel town, and she is the Jubilee Girl of 1960s. Penning down his love for the veteran actress’ charm and the era gone by, Salman Khan wrote the foreword for Asha Parekh’s biography titled Asha Parekh: The Hit Girl. Adding a punch of real-life experiences, he shares Parekh’s camaraderie with the Khan family and wonders why she decided to quit the glamour world in 1973.
Written by celebrated film critic and author Khalid Mohammad, the book will not only reveal the secrets of the life and times of Parekh, but will also bring the cloak-and-dagger mysteries of the film industry to the fore. Buzz is that Khan will unveil the book, which has been published by Om books, on April 10 in Mumbai.
As we wait for the life story of the actress, who has given a string of hits like Teesri Manzil, Jab Kisi Se Pyaar Hota Hai and Caravan, here are some excerpts we loved from the 51-year-old actor’s prelude.
They don’t make them like her any more. In fact, Asha Parekh, Ashaji, represented the swinging era of the 1960s. An all-rounder, she was especially good at dance numbers, had a flair for comedy, emoted simply and effortlessly. Even if situations in the screenplay were incredible, she made them credible by never going over the top. She was the darling not only of the audience but also of film producers and directors who would rush to sign her on for a movie since she guaranteed box-office success.
My dad, Salim Khan, remembers that a film would be snapped up by the distributors and exhibitors if Ashaji was the heroine. Newcomers as well as the leading music directors of the time would be inspired to compose some of their best songs for her. She did justice to the songs by performing them with amazing ease, whether the number was purely Indian or westernised in its rhythm.
Right from her first film as a heroine, Dil Deke Dekho to scores of blockbusters—my favourites are Jab Pyar Kisise Hota Hai, Teesri Manzil, Mera Gaon Mera Desh, Kati Patang and Caravan—she had tremendous screen chemistry, particularly with her leading men Shammi Kapoor, Dev Anand and Rajesh Khanna.
The 1960s, the decade which defined her peak period, were notable for plots about the conflict between the wealthy and the poor. She would often portray a sweet-natured girl who falls in love with a boy who may not have been fortunate enough to have much money in his pocket but his heart would be richer than any king’s treasury. The prejudiced elders of her family and the villain with dishonourable intentions would be defeated in the end, proving there is nothing more important than to fall in love and preserve this connection for the rest of one’s life.
Ashaji relied as much on her instincts as on the instructions of her directors. When it came to dances, she was in harmony with the choreographers. Since she had started out as a child star, she did not have to struggle before the camera. An artiste can become selfconscious. It is not easy to be natural in one’s hand movements, body language and the use of one’s voice and eyes. Technically she was at home leading to a pleasant, friendly screen presence. A bond was struck with the audience, a bond whereby she could compel them to share her laughter and tears.
In this context Ashaji’s kindness and concern for people in need continues to be a noteworthy example. She has been running a charitable hospital since decades. Which other artiste has done that in Mumbai, a city which is all about I-Me-Myself ? It could not be a smooth task for her to keep the institution running and helping out those who do not have sufficient resources for medical treatment.
In addition, over time she has been in the forefront of film associations dedicated to the welfare of artistes and technicians. When in need Ashaji has been a friend indeed to film workers and artistes facing rough weather, and that too without ever wanting recognition and praise for her silent service. I would take this opportunity to salute Ashaji for standing by firmly with the film industry where fortunes can change drastically, a film industry which is associated by the public unfortunately only with glamour.
Sometimes one wonders why Ashaji opted out of the movies prematurely. Maybe she was not satisfied with the roles offered to her of the clichéd mother figure who has to suffer and shed tears. Maybe she did not want to be a part of a system averse to writing In rhythm: smiling to the beat of ‘Rang Rang Ke Phool Khile’ with Rajesh Khanna 12 strong roles for senior women artistes. Maybe she wished to quit at a point when there were no new challenges for her as an artiste. Whatever the specific reason may be, we have had to accept her decision to stay away from the studios. The decision could not have been an easy one to take but she has, depriving me of the chance to be with her in the same frame.
All of us Khans have been blessed. Ashaji has been a family friend. We may not see her regularly but we know she is there for us, and we are there for her, just a phone call away. She joins us for our festive celebrations for the Ganpati puja, Christmas and Eid. She has treated my brothers Arbaaz and Sohail, and sisters Alvira and Arpita, like kids. She has watched us grow up. She has never been judgemental, she has been a part of our high phases and low.
‘Achha Toh Hum Chalte Hain…’ went the lyrics of one of her songs. She can never say goodbye really. Because movie stars may come and go but Asha Parekh will remain in our hearts forever.
— Extracted from Asha Parekh: The Hit Girl
An Autobiography with Khalid Mohamed
Published by Om Books International
Famous for her batwing eyelids and graceful moves, Parekh’s life was long due to be chronicled in a memoir. But, she is not the only veteran actress to make room in the world of books. While Rekha has a biography titled Rekha: The Untold Story, Shatrughan Sinha unveiled his biography Anything But Khamosh: The Shatrughan Sinha Biography at the Jaipur Literature Festival last year. Rishi Kapoor also disclosed his life secrets in his autobiography named Khullam Khulla. Not only that, filmmaker Karan Johar’s book An Unsuitable Boy made quite a revelation about the inside story of B-Town.
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