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Poise and pearly smiles

From reel to real, from a vivacious artiste to a workaholic woman. That's Asha Parekh, revealed for you.



GRACE PERSONIFIED: Asha Parekh. — Photo: Sandeep Saxena.

YESTERYEAR ACTOR Prem Nath was a family friend of Asha Parekh. She invited him to see her dance performance in her J.B. Petit School, Mumbai. Her mother dissuaded him, "She does not know how to dance. She just manages to hop in a style of her own. You will waste your time." But Prem Nath gave importance to the child. "No, if Asha is dancing, I will definitely come."

"After this incident, my mother decided to teach me classical dance. She got to know my interest and always sided with me," reminisces Asha Parekh, who became famous for dancing like bijli. And, with the success of her productions on the television, Asha has become a household name even in the current generation. The actress who has "always been a workaholic, I can't retire," says her latest directorial venture on telly - Kucchh Pal Saath Tumhara, being telecast at 10.30 p.m. on Fridays is "loosely" based on the film Mohabbatein. The serial is about a young widow Nandini whose husband dies but her father-in-law believes that he is still alive and does not want to marry her off.

Her enthusiastic spirit kept her working in films while studying. Though she never wanted to be in films. "I wanted to be doctor but since I can't look at blood, I couldn't." Her first film, Baap Beti came to her when she was 15 and still in school. "I grabbed the offer without realising what I was doing. I resumed studies after the film did badly. I would keep reading even in the school bus. I switched over to acting after my second film, Dil De Ke Dekho, turned me into a star," Asha recalls.

But Charagh, in which she portrayed a blind girl, did not do well and so was the case with Baharon Ke Sapne with Rajesh Khanna.

"I feel sad about these films. I worked hard for Charagh." A tinge of sadness is visible in her eyes for the first time.

Her workaholic nature keeps her attached to CINTA - Cine Artists' Welfare Association Trust - of which she is a treasurer.

The Trust, founded by the late Amjad Khan, is a home to many film and television artistes fallen on bad days.

Many criticised Asha when she was the chairperson of the Censor Board.

"I did my duty. I did what my conscience allowed. This role has been very educative. I gained a lot of confidence."

Ask her how the Censor Board become mature enough to pass films like Jism, Khwahish and Hawa with minimal cuts, - and she offers, "I have not watched these films. I don't watch all films. It is the other panel that decides," parrying the query with her trademark, pearly smile.

This lover of geography and literature also goes gaga over crossover cinema

"At least they are focussed, compact and have emotions. No dhishum dhishum or five songs just to move the negligible storyline," exclaims the lady who found the new Devdas soulless, though its "canvas was overwhelming". And we find her overwhelming!

RANA A. SIDDIQUI

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