Asha Parekh turns 68


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Actress, director and producer Asha Parekh was one of the top stars in Hindi films from 1959 to 1973 and is said to have starred in more hit films than any other actress.


She was born into a middle-class Gujarati household in Maharashtra. Her mother enrolled her in Indian classical dance classes at an early age. Asha began her career as a child artiste under the screen name Baby Asha Parekh with a 1952 film Aasmaan. Noted filmmaker Bimal Roy saw her performance during a stage show and cast her at the young age of 12 in Baap Beti (1954). The film was a flop and Asha decided to take a break from the silver screen to resume schooling.


At the age of 16, she decided to try her luck with acting again but was rejected in Goonj Uthi Shehnai (1959) and the role went to Ameeta, because the filmmaker claimed she was not a star material.


The very next day, writer-director Nasir Hussain cast her as the lead in Dil Deke Dekho (1959) opposite Shammi Kapoor which made Asha a star overnight.


With Dil Deke Dekho began a long association with Nasir Hussain and he cast her in six more of his films: Jab Pyar Kisi Se Hota Hai (1961), Phir Wohi Dil Laya Hoon (1963), Teesri Manzil (1966), Baharon Ke Sapne (1967), Pyar Ka Mausam (1969), and Caravan (1971). She also did a cameo in Nasir Hussain's Manzil Manzil in 1984. Later Nasir got her involved in film distribution, she started with 1967 film Baharon Ke Sapne.


Asha Parekh's eyes were her trademark. They spoke far greater than her dialogues...


She sported a different hairstyle in every movie from a bob-cut to a bee hive... :x


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She was always one of our iconic fearless females...


Then director Raj Khosla gave her image a makeover by casting her in serious roles in three of her favourite films: Do Badan (1966), Chirag (1969), and Main Tulsi Tere Aangan Ki (1978).


She was appreciated for her roles in director Shakti Samanta's Pagla Kahin Ka and Kati Patang, where she was paired opposite Rajesh Khanna in both.


Kati Patang earned her the Filmfare Best Actress Award.


Another Asha Parekh hit was Love in Tokyo, with the infamous song Sayonara.


Many noted directors like Vijay Anand, Mohan Segal and JP Dutta repeated her in their films. Asha acted in a few Gujarati films: the first being Akhand Saubhagyavati (1963), which became a huge hit. She has also done a few Punjabi films and one Kannada film. Asha was seen doing supporting roles as a bhabhi and a mother in a few movies later on, but she has called this an "awkward phase" of her career.


She stopped acting in films and her friends recommended that she become a television director. Then came her first Gujarati serial Jyoti. Parekh now has a production company by the name of 'Akruti' and has even produced serials like Palash ke Phool, Baaje Payal, Kora Kagaz and a comedy Dal Mein Kaala.


Asha was the president of the Cine Artistes' Association from 1994 to 2000. She was also the first female chairperson of the Censor Board from 1998-2001 for which she received no salary.


Asha received a lot of controversy for censoring films and for not giving clearance to Shekhar Kapur's Elizabeth.


After winning many awards to accredit her career, Asha received the Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award in 2002.


Asha never got married, claiming that her reputation of being unapproachable made people hesitate in asking for her hand in marriage. According to reports, Asha has confessed that she had a longtime boyfriend but declined to elaborate on the relationship.There were rumours of her affair with married director Nasir Hussain.


Today, she concentrates on her dance academy Kara Bhavan.


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