Bollywood’s retired Jubilee Queen continues to be a happy soul, in spite of her movie career being a thing of the past. Asha Parekh who turned 75 on October 2 and doesn’t feel her age at all, is happy to share her birthday with Mahatma Gandhi.
But there is the downside too.
“Every birthday of mine is a dry day. So my friends never get to toast my health and wellbeing with a glass of wine… aah, never mind. I am happy to be alive, well, healthy and still not pushed into oblivion, as many of my colleagues are.”
Oblivion is far from Asha’s ambit of activity. In fact, 2017 has been a particularly eventful year for her.
“That’s right. My memoirs The Hit Girl came out. I was apprehensive that it may hurt some. But I was determined to tell the truth. Or else, no point in writing about your life. My co-author Khalid Mohamed and I were very careful about the lives that were touched in my memoirs.”
Asha boldly spoke about her relationship with filmmaker Nasir Hussain. Was there any negative impact on Nasir Saab’s family?
“None at all. I didn’t expect there would be. When I was so careful not to hurt his family during our relationship, why would I cause them any hurt now? Nasir saab’s family has always been close to my heart. I never even thought of hurting them. They all respect me. In fact, (Nasir Hussain’s nephew) Aamir (Khan) is always very respectful and affectionate.”
On the downside, the year saw her dream project, her hospital for the poor, being shut down.
She sighs: “This is not the first time we’ve had to close down the hospital. It had been closed in 2007. Now ten years later it looks like it’s going to be taken over by a hospital chain. My hospital will now be turned into a 5-star health facility. That means the facilities will no longer be available to the poor and the underprivileged.
“Poor people die due to medical negligence. The government hospitals are overcrowded and understaffed. That’s why I ran this no-profit hospital for the poor. It was my parents’ dream that I tend to the poor. Alas, the dream has ended.”
Brightening up, Asha is thankful for what life has given her. “I am still around and healthy. I had a great innings. I was called the ‘hit girl’ because of the success ratio of my films. I don’t know how so many hits happened in my career.
“It was God’s blessings, I guess and my parents’ good wishes. It’s sad to lose friends at my age. Watching them go one by one is a very scary experience. I just wish when I go I go without pain. And people will remember me as a nice girl.”