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Asha Parekh Biography

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Asha Parekh
Asha Parekh
(Jubilee Girl, Tomboy)

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Asha Parekh Biography

Asha Parekh was born in a middle-class Gujarati household to a Hindu father and a Muslim mother on October 2, 1942 in India. Since she was an only child, she became the center of her parents' lives. Her mother enrolled her in classical dance classes at an early age, and Asha excelled at dance to the point where she performed at stage shows. Famed film director Bimal Roy saw her dance at a stage function and cast her at the tender age of ten in Baap Beti (1954). The film's failure disappointed her, and even though, she did a few more child roles, she quit to resume her schooling. At sixteen, she decided to try acting again and make her debut as a heroine, but director Vijay Bhatt fired her from Goonj Uthi Shehnai(1959) claiming she wasn't star material. Almost immediately, film producer S. Mukherjee and writer-director Nasir Husain cast her as the heroine in Dil Deke Dekho(1959) which made her a huge star. The film also led to a long and fruitful association with Nasir, who later became producer, and would cast her in the heroine role in six more films. Shammi Kapoor became her favorite hero and friend. They worked together on three more films, most notably the huge hit Teesri Manzil (1966). A fallacy that surrounded her was that she was generally considered a glamorous dancer/tomboy and not a serious actress until director Raj Khosla cast her in the tragedienne role in the hit film Do Badan(1966). The truth was directors and audiences knew early on that she had genuine acting talent. She easily compensated for non-actors like Joy Mukherjee and Biswajit, and she held her own against acting giants like Ashok Kumar. Important directors were casting her and repeating her in their films, but Asha also brought out jealousies from her female co-stars. Simi Garewal claimed that Asha tried to cut her part down in "Do Badan", but Asha insisted that she never did that, and if that had been the case, Simi would not have won the Filmfare Award as Best Supporting Actress. The "Do Badan" team stood by Asha, especially the director, Raj Khosla, who would cast her in three more films, and Asha's leading man Manoj Kumar would direct and star opposite her in his blockbuster "Upkar" (1967) which won the Filmfare award for Best Film. Although Asha earned the title "Jubilee Girl" because of the continuous string of box office successes like Jab Pyar Kisise Hota Hai (1961), Gharana (1961), Shikar (1968), and Aan Milo Sajna (1970), she also hit a bump with Raj Khosla's flop Chirag(1969). But it also garnered her first Filmfare nomination as Best Actress and Khosla didn't blame her for the film's failure and in fact, cast her soon again and came up with a huge hit, Mera Gaon Mera Desh(1971). However, success brought controversy. Once again, a female co-star claimed that Asha tried to cut her part down. This time, Asha confronted Padma Chayya directly and told her to think before she speaks as Padma got twice the number of songs than Asha did in the film. Aruna Irani allegedly made the same claims against Asha when they costarred in Nasir Husain's box office smash Caravan (1971), but again facts back Asha's claim that she never would cut anyone's part down as Aruna had more songs than Asha and she was also nominated as Best Supporting Actress for a Filmfare Award, while Asha wasn't nominated for the film. However, Asha did win the much coveted Best Actress Filmfare Award for Shakti Samantha's Kati Patang (1970). She played a deglamorized woman in a white sari pretending to be a widow whose vulnerable smile hides a painful past. Asha was hitting the heights of fame and glory even though she was now pushing 30, an age where heroines normally would pack it in. But her passion for dancing sent her abroad on a extended trip to do dance shows and as a result, turned down important film roles. When she came back in 1973, she found that a younger and bolder breed of heroines like Hema Malini and Zeenat Aman got those roles and now ruled the roost. Asha concentrated on her distribution concern which she had started with Nasir Husain when he directed her in the film Baharon Ke Sapne (1967) and would continue to do so for twenty one years. She also threw herself in her charity work, even having a Santa Cruz hospital named after her. She lived with her parents in her beautiful seaside bungalow, whose innovative design drew a lot of attention. Asha's passion with dance continued and her performance of famous dance ballets like "Chauladevi" won her acclaim. She did supporting roles, garnering Filmfare nominations as Best Supporting Actress for Udhar Ka Sindoor (1976) and Raj Khosla's massive hit, Main Tulsi Tere Aanghan Khi (1978), which also won the Filmfare Award as Best Film. But the rest of her supporting roles disenchanted her, with the exception of her strong performance in Hathyaar (1989). And her back problems forced her to give up doing dance shows. But she found a new passion, directing television serials such as the hugely popular Kora Kogaz in the early 90's, which convinced her to give up acting permanently in 1995. However, her acting accomplishments were not forgotten as she received the Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award in 2002. After her mother's death, she sold her huge bungalow and moved into a smaller place to take care of her ailing father until he, too, passed away. She has never married and has not had any affairs with her many heroes, claiming that her reputation of being unapproachable probably intimidated men. In her later years, Asha admitted that she did have a longtime boyfriend before the relationship ended. Now, Asha devotes all her time to her humanitarian efforts and producing and directing television serials by her production company "Akruti." She also has set up a dance academy "Kara Bhavan," which has produced many skilled and talented dancers. Today, Asha says that she is very flattered to know that she has fans all over the world.

Asha Parekh Trivia

Acted as a child in small roles.

Top Hindi Film Heroine from 1959 to 1973.

Director Vijay Bhatt fired her from her debut film as a heroine in "Goonj Uthi Shehnai" (1959) claiming she wasn't star material. Almost immediately, director Nasir Hussain cast her in "Dil Deke Dekko" (1959) opposite Shammi Kapoor, which made her a star.

Never married, Asha says her reputation of being unapproachable probably made people hesitate in asking for her hand in marriage.

Producer-Director Nasir Hussain found Asha to be so professional that he cast her as the heroine in seven films: Dil Deke Dekko (1959), Jab Pyar Kisse Hota Hai (1961), Phir Wohi Dil Laya Hoon (1963), Teesri Manzil (1966), Baharon Ke Sapne (1967), Pyar Ka Mausam (1969), and Caravan (1971).

Nasir Hussain gave her a cameo in their eighth film together, Manzil Manzil (1984).

Claims she didn't have affairs with her leading men but loved playing pranks on them.

As a classically trained dancer, she did stage shows from childhood to middle-age.

Shammi Kapoor is her favorite leading man, and although they played a romantic pair in their four films together, he never made a pass at her in real life and always called her "bhatiji" (niece), while she called him "chacha" (uncle).

In her eagerness to devote more time to do dance shows, she turned down film roles that made stars out of others.

Although, Shammi Kapoor was her favorite leading man, and she also liked working with his younger brother Shashi Kapoor, her dream was to work with their elder brother, Raj Kapoor. But it was a half-realized dream because the film that she made with him, "Chor Mandili" (1982) never got released.

Her personal favorite films are Do Badan (1966), Chirag (1969), Kati Patang (1970), Pagla Kahin Ka (1970) and Main Tulsi Tere Aangan Ki (1978).

Her favorite song is "Jayiye aap kahaan jaayenge" from the film Mere Sanam (1965).

In addition to Nasir Hussain, seven major directors cast Asha more than once due to her immense talent, beauty, and professionalism: Pramod Chakravorthy, Vijay Anand, Raj Khosla, Raghunath Jhalani, Mohan Segal, Shakti Samanta, and J.P. Dutta.

From 1998 to 2001, Asha was the first woman in history to be appointed as the chairperson of the Central Board of Film Certification ("film censor board") for which she received no salary but plenty of controversy, because she requested that many films be censored.

She gave up acting in 1995 to concentrate on her passion of directing television serials, of which she had done many.

She was the president of the Cine Artistes' Association from 1994-2000, and later said that it was time consuming, difficult, and ultimately a "thankless job."

The Asha Parekh Hospital in Mumbai is named after her, because of her many humanitarian contributions.

She is the treasurer of the Cine Artists' Welfare Association Trust(CINTA), which is a home for many film and television artistes fallen on bad days.

Began a highly successful career as a television director in the early 1990s with a Gujarati serial "Jyoti." Her production company, "Akruti", has come out with television serials "Palash ke Phool", "Baaje Payal", "Kora Kagaz" and a comedy "Dal Mein Kaala."

Was recognized as the first Gujarati to become a superstar in Hindi films, and at the height of her fame, she paid tribute to her Gujarati heritage by starring in her first Gujarati film, "Akhand Saubhagyarati" (1963), which became a big hit. Coincidentally, the title "Akhand Saubhagyarati" would be used for a Gujarati television serial that Asha produced in 2005.

Asha claims that she starred in a "very sweet film" with Shashi Kapoor titled "Sweetheart," (1970) directed by Suraj Prakash and written by Brij Katyal, but it was never released. (She also appeared in another unreleased film "Jaane Janna" in the 1980's, where she had a supporting role.).

She claims to be a bad cook and doesn't like salads, because they remind her of diets.

She said that although it is difficult to be a woman director in the television industry, she has no problem commanding respect from everyone on the set when she is shooting television serials.

When Asha was shooting for films, she would always carry her food from home. Her heroes Shammi Kapoor, Shashi Kapoor, and Rajesh Khanna looked forward to eating her fried fish and Goan fish curry.

In 2006, Asha said that she and the other 1960's stars were living lives of self-imposed seclusion and solitude. To remedy the situation, she, Sadhana, Nanda, Waheeda Rehman, Shammi, and Vyjayantimala meet regularly at each other's homes to chat, catch up with old times, have lunch, or watch a movie. Asha has urged other retired performers to do the same before it's too late as nothing is more therapeutic in life than companionship.

She received the 7th International Indian Film Academy Award for outstanding achievement in Indian cinema on June 16, 2006 in Dubai. She was chosen unanimously by the advisory board for her status as an industry icon, and for her career as actress, producer, director, and also having been the first female chairperson of the Indian film censor board.

She received two Lifetime Achievement Awards in 2007: One from the Fifth Annual Pune International Film Festival in India, and the other from the Ninth Annual Bollywood Awards in New York, USA.

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