Veteran Bollywood Actress Asha Parekh Says Her Hindi Movies do Badan (1966) and Chirag (1969) were the toughest films of their careers in the Indian film industry. In an interview on the sidelines of the ongoing 53rd International Film Festival of India (IFFI) in Goa (India), she talks about her films and the filmmakers she has worked with.
When asked about the toughest film of her career, Parekh says it was Chirag – directed by Raj Khosla and starring Sunil Dutt. “I would say chirag was a movie and then do Badan since they had different shades of character (which were new to me).”
Parekh ruled the Hindi film industry between the 1960’s and 1980’s and was recently honored with the Dadasaheb Phalke Award – the highest honor in Indian cinema presented at the annual National Film Awards. Every year, the IFFI organizes a retrospective with films by the Dadasaheb Phalke Prize winner. Parekh chose Do Badan, Kati Patang and Teesri Manzil for presentation at IFFI 2022.
Recalling the time she signed the films shown at IFFI 2022, Parekh says, “Shakti Samantha directed three films and he had asked me to work with him. I got the book (The 1971 Hindi film Kati Patang was based on the Hindi book of the same name by Gulshan Nanda, which in turn was based on the 1948 book I Married a Dead Man by American crime writer William Irish.) and I found the character very different from what I had done. I played a widow that I am not.”
She adds that she recorded do Badan for the pathos her character had in the film and the fact that she was keen to work with filmmaker Khosla. She says her role wasn’t what got her started Teesri Manzil. “I did Teesri Manzil, more for the fun experience the film was. I wouldn’t say it was the role that made me want to work in it, but (I did) because it was a fun movie.”
Parekh recalls the legendary directors she has worked with and says she had to prepare a lot to work with Vijay Anand as he did single, long takes for his scenes while she was really enjoying, with Nasir Hussain to work. “Nasir used to do funny films, I worked with him on my first film Dil De Ke Dekho (first film as a leading actress) and that was an association where I could talk to him and understand his directing. I learned a lot working with him.”
Parekh remembers how Khosla sometimes “got off track”. “Raj Khosla sometimes went off track but was mostly on track making beautiful films. When he came to ask me to work in Mai Tulsi Tere Angan Ki, I asked him to show (in the final version) everything he originally told me. “You won’t cut any of it off,” I asked him, he promised and he kept his word. Everything we shot was used without any cuts.”
She also says she has faced a lot of negativity as the first woman to head the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) – the body that certifies films in India. “Just because I was the first woman, the press gave me a real beating. The press was very cruel, but I was strict, I did what I wanted to do. I learned a lot. But yeah, the producers weren’t happy when I cut their films. But we did what we had to do, we followed the guidelines. There were certain films that I felt shouldn’t have passed, so we didn’t pass them.”
(This interview has been edited and shortened for clarity)