|Born||October 2, 1942
|Other name(s)||Jubilee Girl
Asha Parekh (2 October 1942) is a Bollywood actress, director, and producer. She was one of the top stars in Hindi films from 1959 to 1973 and is said to have starred in more hit films than any other actress.
Asha Parekh was born into a middle-class Gujarati household on 2 October 1942 in Maharashtra, India to a Jain father and Muslim mother, and her religious upbringing involved worshiping Sai Baba. Since she was an only child, she became the centre of her parents' lives. Her mother enrolled her in Indian classical dance classes at an early age and Asha excelled at dancing to the point where she performed at stage shows and private functions.
Parekh started her career as a child artiste under the screen name Baby Asha Parekh in the film Aasmaan (1952). Famed film director Bimal Roy saw her dance at a stage function and cast her at the tender age of twelve in Baap Beti (1954). The film's failure disappointed her and even though she did a couple 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 she was rejected from Vijay Bhatt's Goonj Uthi Shehnai (1959) in favor of actress Ameeta, because the filmmaker claimed she was not star material. The very next day, film producer Subodh Mukherjee and writer-director Nasir Hussain cast her as the heroine in Dil Deke Dekho (1959) opposite Shammi Kapoor which made her a huge star.
The film also led to a long and fruitful association with Hussain. He went on to cast her as the heroine in six more of his films: Jab Pyar Kisi Se Hota Hai (1961), Phir Wohi Dil Laya Hoon (1963), Teesri Manzil (1966), Baharon Ke Sapne (1967), Pyar Ka Mausam (1969), and Caravan (1971). She also did a cameo role for his film Manzil Manzil (1984). He also got her involved in distribution of films for 21 years, starting with Baharon Ke Sapne (1967). She was primarily known as a glamour girl/excellent dancer/tomboy in most of her films, until director Raj Khosla gave her a serious image by casting her in tragedienne roles in three of her favorite films: Do Badan (1966), Chirag (1969), and Main Tulsi Tere Aangan Ki (1978). Director Shakti Samanta gave her more dramatic roles in her other favorite films, Pagla Kahin Ka (1970), and Kati Patang (1970), the latter earned her the Filmfare Best Actress Award. Many important directors repeated her several times in their films, such as Vijay Anand, Mohan Segal and J.P. Dutta.
Asha acted in her mother tongue Gujarati by starring in three films at the height of her fame in Hindi films, the first film being Akhand Saubhagyavati (1963), which became a huge hit. She also acted in some Punjabi films and a Kannada film.
After her days as a leading lady ended, she took on supporting roles as bhabhi (sister-in-law) and mother, but she called this the "awkward phase" of her career. So she stopped acting in films, and her friends recommended that she become a television director. She took their advice and became a television director in the early 1990s with a Gujarati serial Jyoti. She formed a production company Akruti and produced serials like Palash ke Phool, Baaje Payal, Kora Kagaz and a comedy Dal Mein Kaala. She was the president of the Cine Artistes' Association from 1994 to 2000. Asha was the first female chairperson of the Central Board of Film Certification (Censor Board) of India. She held the post from 1998 to 2001 for which she received no salary but plenty of controversy for censoring films and for not giving clearance to Shekhar Kapur's Elizabeth. Later, she became the treasurer of the Cine and Television Artists Association (CINTAA) and also was later elected to be one of its officebearers.
Asha stopped acting in 1995 to pursue directing and producing television serials, but her acting accomplishments were not forgotten as she received the Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award in 2002. And she has continued to receive other Lifetime Achievement Awards: Kalakar Award in 2004; International Indian Film Academy Awards in 2006; Pune International Film Festival Award (2007); Ninth Annual Bollywood Award (2007) in Long Island, New York. She received the Living Legend Award from the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry(FICCI).
In 2008, she was seen judging dancers on a reality show Tyohaar Dhamaaka on the Indian entertainment channel 9X.
Asha has remained unmarried, claiming that her reputation of being unapproachable made people hesitate in asking her hand in marriage. There were rumors that she was romantically involved with her married director Nasir Hussain. In her later years, Asha said that she had a longtime boyfriend but declined to elaborate on the relationship, only stating that "it was nice while it lasted." She said she hadn't seen Nasir Hussain the last year of his life, as he became reclusive because of his wife's death, but she did speak to him on the phone the day before he died in 2002. A devastated Asha attended his funeral.
Today, she concentrates on her dance academy Kara Bhavan, which has produced many skilled dancers. The Asha Parekh Hospital in Santa Cruz, Mumbai is named after her because of her many contributions. Her considerable wealth provides for many of her social and charitable causes.
When asked if she missed having a husband and children, her response was: "I don’t think so. There was a time when I did want to get married. I used to love children, I still love children, but now I feel that I am happy I am not married and don’t have kids, because I don’t think I would have been able to cope up with them."
Asha Parekh has acted in over 50 films.