something I’ll cherish throughout my life. I remember the time when all my films — Kurbaan (1991), Khiladi and Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar (both 1992) — were immensely successful and Dalaal (1993) did a platinum jubilee. That was my biggest high.
Khiladi (1992): Directed by Abbas Mustan, the film paired Akshay with Ayesha Jhulka. The film was Akshay Kumar's breakthrough role. Khiladi was the first in a series of films which had Khiladi in the title.
We see you in movies even now, though they are rare appearances. How has the industry changed?
Ayesha: There’s a huge difference. Now the corporate world has taken over. Things are more management-oriented now. We just had a personal secretary. Nowadays, stars are handled by management companies. I enjoyed my time the best. There was a comfort zone and we were treated well.
So why did you leave?
Ayesha: I just feel that I made this choice because I thought that I might as well leave when I was doing well rather than wait to go down and get frustrated. I wanted to retire at my peak and enjoy the other side of the world. Now, when I do films, they are purely for friends.
Don’t your fans ask you to come back?
Ayesha: They do that all the time. I was recently returning from Goa and a group of 20-25 people came up to me at the airport and they wanted pictures clicked and they asked the same question. It feels nice.
What keeps you busy now?
Ayesha: I am very busy. I have a construction company (SamRock, with her husband, construction tycoon Sameer Vashi, whom she married in 2003. They met in Mumbai), a spa business (Anantaa) and my own clothing line (Additions). I have just bought a boutique resort in Goa.
Tell us something about your family.
Ayesha: My husband and I have been very busy, so we don’t have children. We have decided that maybe next year or so we’ll think about it.
Many people feel that this industry forgets its stars too soon. Do you agree?
Ayesha: It hasn’t happened in my case. People expect that the industry will keep giving them work all the time, which doesn’t happen. Nobody’s been forgotten.
Did you ever miss films?
Ayesha: No, not at all, because I have always kept busy with my work and never had the time to even think about it.
Who are you in touch with?
Ayesha: I keep meeting Tabu, Neelam, Govinda and Jackie. I am in touch with almost all my co-stars.
Movies: Done 54
Acted till: 2000
Known for: Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar, Khiladi, Dalaal
Last film: Ada... A Way Of Life
Runs a number of businesses
Pooja Bedi, actor
I worked with Ayesha in Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar. She fit the role and played the part well. We are in touch even today. She has a salon right opposite my house and I go there quite often. She is a very sweet girl.
Shakti Kapoor, actor
I worked with her in Khiladi, Dalaal and a Rajkumar Kohli film — Aulad Ke Dushman. She is an amazing person and it was a pleasure working with her. I always thought she is a really good dancer. She is a superb actor and did justice to all her roles.