Walk into her sea facing bungalow and you are warmly welcomed by the Jubilee Girl from the 60s. Her enigma, poise and effusiveness intact, Asha Parekh is happy about her autobiography titled The Hit Girl that is all set to be launched on 10 April. Written by popular film critic and screenwriter, Khalid Mohamed, the book will bring to life Bollywood of a bygone era along with interesting anecdotes from Asha’s own journey. Striking glory again with this little comeback of hers, Asha jii spoke to us about her evolution in the industry and more.
Q. What made you open up about your life in your 70s?
Asha Parekh: It’s supposed to be like this right. You can’t write about your life when you are young as there is so much more to go. So, I thought this was the right time to do this. The idea came from Khalid who told me why don’t we write about you? That made me think that people had seen me as the glamour girl but they didn’t know who I am behind the scenes. That made me accept Khalid’s idea.
Q. As Salman Khan questioned in the foreword, what made you leave the movies prematurely?
Asha Parekh: At the time, the roles that came were not interesting enough. I was disturbed by the fact that heroes would come for a 9 am shift at 6 pm and have no qualms about having made everybody wait. I would get tired of waiting. That’s when I realised that work patterns had changed and this was no more my cup of tea. Now, things are punctual but during those few years, this change was distressing.
Q. Which one of your films would you like to be remade? Who do you think could play your role?
I would like Teesri Manzil to be remade as it was a beautiful film. Also, Mera Gaon Mera Desh. I think Alia Bhatt could play my roles as I was always had bubbly roles and she comes across as someone who could do them.
Q. It's said that you have been quite frank in the book about the relationships that you had, was it difficult to be honest without being controversial?
Asha Parekh: I have tried to be truthful but I haven’t taken names.
Q. Did you face a lot of questions and loose talk because of your decision to not get married and how did you tackle it?
Asha Parekh: It wasn’t a conscious decision to not get married but nothing worked out. My mom was always very keen and suitors did come but it all fizzled. Even this one person I was interested in turned out to be a complete opposite of what he had portrayed. So proposals did come but nothing materialised.
Q. Amongst your co-stars who was your favourite and why?
Asha Parekh: All of them were very nice and fun to work with. It was always like one big family although we did have the first few stages of awkwardness. But, that got sorted after two to three days. Shammi Kapoor was my favourite because he was my first hero and we shared a great rapport.
Q. What are the big changes that you see in the culture of stardom now?
Asha Parekh: Today, these artists face a lot of tension and stress as the media is constantly behind them. There is no private life. I pity them sometimes as a little privacy is extremely essential. In our times, there was hardly any publicity stints or promotional activities.
Nowadays, actors do one film in a year. At our time, we would do two to three films at a time. Actors can concentrate better on one project these days.
Q. Looking back, is there anything you wish you could have changed in life?
There are many things I would like to change especially my mistakes - like missing out on certain films and on my teenage years. I could not go to college either. You lose out on many things when you start early but you also gain other things like fame and popularity.
Q. You've spoken about a phase during which you felt suicidal, looking back what was it that helped you back then? What would your advise be to youngsters?
Asha Parekh: Yes, it was when I had just lost my parents and I felt extremely lonely. I would stay alone in my flat and I felt depressed which led to suicidal thoughts. I was helped by my friends who heard me out and asked me what was wrong with me. My sister’s husband called a psychiatrist and he helped me out.
My advice would be that if you are depressed, do something about it and people around you should realise your condition. You need to talk.