Asha Parekh

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Asha Parekh

Dinesh Raheja

Asha Parekh, with her glamorous yet good girl image starred in a serpentine string of box-office triumphs.

With pert allure and indigenous fashion, Asha headlined the Sixties' colour blitzkrieg along with Sadhana and Saira Banu.

Her films were essentially cheerful, lighthearted entertainers. Today, they may not count as classics, but are redolent of a more gentler and amiable age of entertainers.

Famous songs picturised on Asha Parekh
Song Film Singer
 Bade hai dil
 ke kaale
 Dil Deke  Dekho  Asha Bhosle
 Sau saal pehle  Jab Pyar Kisise Hota Hai  Lata Mangeshkar,  Mohammed Rafi
 Ankhon se jo utri  hai dil mein  Phir Wohi Dil  Laya Hoon  Asha Bhosle
 Jaaiye aap kahan  jayenge  Mere Sanam  Asha Bhosle
 Sayonara  sayonara  Love In Tokyo  Lata Mangeshkar
 Aaja aaja  Teesri Manzil  Mohammed Rafi,  Asha Bhosle
 Parde mein
 rehne do
 Shikaar  Asha Bhosle
 Achha toh hum  chalte hai  Aan Milo Sajna  Lata Mangeshkar,  Kishore Kumar
 Na koi umang hai  Kati Patang  Lata Mangeshkar
 Main tulsi tere  angan ki  Main Tulsi Tere  Angan Ki  Lata Mangeshkar

Also, whether it was her hill-station romances (Nasir Hussain's Phir Wohi Dil Laya Hoon, Mukul Dutt's Aan Milo Sajna), or her dramatic roles (Shakti Samanta's Kati Patang, Raj Khosla's Main Tulsi Tere Angan Ki), Asha was a 'good-song magnet'.

Her star persona is heightened by her association with a number of easily identifiable hit songs. From O P Nayyar (Jaiye aap kahan jayenge), to Madan Mohan (Teri aankhon ke siva), music maestros have lavished some of their best compositions on her.

Often, Asha played the rich tomboyish brat. In real life too, Asha grew up as the centre of her parents' world. Born into a middle-class family in the Mumbai suburb of Santa Cruz, she was sent to the well-known J B Petit School. Asha loved dance and she attended classes even if they were far way from her residence. Her mother was the motivating force in Asha's life.

Once while Asha was dancing onstage, veteran director Bimal Roy offered her a child's role in his Baap Beti (1954). She did a few films as a child actor, including Dhobi Doctor and Ayodhyapati. By 1957, Asha was a teenager who danced alongside her idol Vyjayanthimala in a song from Asha.

It seemed as though Asha had made her breakthrough when veteran filmmaker Vijay Bhatt cast her as the heroine in his Gunj Uthi Shehnai. But she was thrown out of the film apparently because she was not 'star material'. A heart-broken Asha was about to leave for a trip abroad with her dance troupe. But within months, Sashadhar Mukherji cast her in Dil Deke Dekho (1959).

This youth-oriented Nasir Hussain musical was a smash hit and 17-year-old Asha became a star. Hero Shammi Kapoor patiently tutored this newcomer and they made a well-liked pair. Shammi preferred working with new girls and the twosome did not work together onscreen for almost seven years thereafter.

The scrubbed-clean teenager who represented the new Indian youth with her trendy trouser suits and who sang and danced so prettily in Dil Deke Dekho did not lack co-stars. She was soon cast opposite Dev Anand (Jab Pyar Kisise Hota Hai), Rajendra Kumar (Gharana) and Joy Mukherji (Phir Wohi Dil Laya Hoon).

Just when it looked as though Asha was fated to be essay lighthearted roles in a string of musicals, she made an impact in Ziddi (1964). Asha played a characteristic no-nonsense tomboy who cavorts around with a cute baby elephant for company. She surprised many in her emotional scenes, which captured her painful passage to adulthood.

The true efflorescence of Asha's talent came in the year 1966, which saw her star in four successful films: Vijay Anand's masterly suspenseful musical Teesri Manzil reteamed her with Shammi Kapoor, Love In Tokyo gave her a chance to dance and emote in picturesque Japan, Aaye Din Bahaar Ke started a successful teaming with Dharmendra (five successes, no flops), and Raj Khosla's rather maudlin Do Badan offered her the opportunity to play tragedienne.

Now on the popularity charts, Asha sought further histrionic validity. But the public seemed to prefer her in fashion plate roles like Upkar (1967), Shikar (1968), and Aaya Sawan Jhoom Ke (1969), rather than her deglamourised roles in Baharon Ke Sapne (1967), or Chiraag (1969).

Asha finally got the much coveted Best Actress Award in Kati Patang (1970). As the widow whose watery smile hides a painful secret, Asha bravely kept her white sari-clad character shorn of commercial glitz. A correctly understated Asha was well cast; her innate personality traits made it easy for the audience to sympathise with her.

Kati Patang was followed by hits like Aan Milo Sajna, Nasir Hussain's Caravan and Raj Khosla's Mera Gaon Mera Desh in the early seventies. But a younger and bolder breed of heroines like Mumtaz and Sharmila Tagore now ruled the roost. Asha cut down on her work and went on a an extended trip abroad for her dance shows. When she returned in 1973, her career had lost its early heat.

Asha concentrated on her distribution concern, her charity work for a Santa Cruz hospital and on her beautiful seaside bungalow, whose innovative design drew a lot of approbation. Asha's obsession with dance continued and her performance of famous dance ballets like Chauladevi won attention.

Though there were several offers for marriage all through the seventies, nothing worked out. Asha zealously guarded her independence. She did the ocassional film like Raj Khosla's Main Tulsi Tere Angan Ki (1978), or J P Dutta's Hathyar (1989), which made demands on her creativity. But when she found film roles degenerating into the maa-bhabhi glut, she firmly retired from films in the early 1990s.

Asha served a term as the head of the Censor Board. In her late fifties, Asha found her groove as director. After helming the successful television serial Kora Kagaz, Asha is now working on her next.

Asha Parekh's Landmark Films
Year Film Actor
1959 Dil Deke Kekho Shammi Kapoor
1961 Jab Pyar Kisise Hota Hai Dev Anand
1964 Ziddi Joy Mukherji
1966 Do Badan Manoj Kumar
1966 Love In Tokyo Joy Mukherji
1966 Teesri Manzil Shammi Kapoor
1967 Upkaar Manoj Kumar
1970 Kati Patang Rajesh Khanna
1971 Caravan Jeetendra
1978 Main Tulsi Tere Angan Ki Vijay Anand

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