It has been 58 years since she made her blockbuster debut with Dil Deke Dekho (1959). But even now, you can’t miss the aura and splendour in Asha Parekh’s personality. “Well, I was lucky. God has been very kind to me. I received good films and very nice music in all my films,” says the veteran actor, who is set to launch her autobiography, The Hit Girl, on April 10.
Do you feel your autobiography is a new chapter in your life?
Absolutely, it will be a new chapter because people feel that I’m just an actress. But, I have done a lot of other things in life too, which people don’t know about.
How was the experience of putting together a book?
I was lucky to have Khalid Mohamed doing the writing part so it was quite easy. He would ask me questions one after the other so it took me a little time to recollect everything from my past. Still, I think we did it fast, in just eight months.
Are you happy with the way it has turned out?
Yes, it has turned out very beautifully. Also, this is the right stage to come out with it. After living a full life, when you write your book, you have ample things to speak about. But it was a little difficult to put my life out in public.
Salman Khan is going to launch the book in Mumbai...
I know the Khan family very well, so I asked Salim Bhai (Khan) and he agreed. Salman has, in fact, written the foreword also. Aamir Khan is going to launch the book in Delhi.
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You have worked with the best of stars — right from Shammi Kapoor to Shashi Kapoor, and Jeetendra to Rajesh Khanna. Do you see any difference in the way stars function nowadays?
Nowadays, the way a crowd chases an actor or a star is very shocking — with girls even fainting and all. In our times, we never had that sort of thing, where the girl faints and the parents are taking them out. It’s very weird. I am sure you can control your emotions even if you like a person. These are the things that have changed a lot and that’s why I realise they need bouncers around them because of the way the crowd behaves. It’s absolutely insane. I see people clicking pictures of Amitabh Bachchan and Shah Rukh Khan’s house even if the person isn’t there. It’s so funny. So, craziness has gone to that extent now.
But you also have had many crazy fans…
Yes, we also had crazy things happening, but our fans never went to that extent. I had a Chinese fan, who took a liking for me and parked himself outside my gate and refused to budge. I had to call the police commissioner, who put him in the Arthur Road jail. From there the fan wrote to me, ‘Please get me out’. So, I did that, but I don’t know what happened ultimately.
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Your co-star Rajesh Khanna had a crazy fan following...
I witnessed that, too. We were shooting for Kati Patang (1970) in Nainital, (Uttarakhand) and the crowd was uncontrollable. It was very difficult for us to shoot on the boat. It took two days for us to get into the boat to shoot.
How do you look back at your journey in the industry?
It has been a beautiful journey. I have no regrets. If God ever asked me, what I would like to do in my next life, I’d say that I would like to do the same thing again, but avoid all the mistakes that I committed in life.
Is it true that you were supposed to make your debut with Goonj Uthi Shehnai (1959), but film-maker Vijay Bhatt felt you weren’t star material?
Yes, that is true. I was selected, because I worked with Vijay Bhatt for Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu (1954) as a child. After that, he called me for Goonj Uthi Shahnai and I was given `11 as a signing amount. I shot for it for two or three days with IS Johar, who also wanted me to work for him in Bewaqoof (1960). But after three days, they suddenly said, ‘You’re not star material and we want to change you’. So they cast Ameeta, whose film Tumsa Nahin Dekha (1957) had just released. In fact, I also missed out on Johar saab’s film.
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Were you heartbroken?
Naturally, it was heart-breaking. But after a week, I signed my first film, when Sashadhar Mukherjee saw me and wanted me for his film, Dil Deke Dekho (1959).
You also refused a number of films that went on to become huge hits. Any regrets?
Yes, I refused films such as Andaz (1971) and Tumse Achha Kaun Hai (1969). Not doing Seeta Aur Geeta (1972) and Aradhana (1969) was regretful. I turned down Aradhana because I didn’t want to take the risk of playing the mother as well as the heroine. It was a miscalculation and a bad [decision] on my part.
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What do you think about today’s films?
Technically, we are very superior, and the entire system has changed for the better, as actors are now doing one film at a time. But somewhere, some films have lost their soul. The soul is missing. The same goes for music; you won’t remember today’s music for very long, because it’s more about drums, beats and a lot of noise (smiles).
Would you like to see a biopic on your life?
I would be very happy if someone made one. Deepika (Padukone) and Priyanka (Chopra) can play me; and even Alia Bhatt for that matter because she has been doing all these glamorous roles and tomboyish parts that even I used to do. So, Alia could also be a good choice.
Apparently, you regret not being able to work with Dilip Kumar?
Yes, I will always regret it, because I missed out on working with him. I was a great fan of his. I used to admire him a lot. We had started working on Zabardast, and Yusuf saab (Dilip Kumar) did shoot for two-three days, but then the film was scrapped.
Also, you never got married?
I would just say that I wasn’t destined to get married. Now, when I look back, I feel I am happy that I never married.