Monday, September 11, 2017

Asha Parekh evokes dance moves of old Bollywood


PUNE: "I can't dance to today's songs" is what yesteryear star Asha Parekh, cheerful even at 74, said among a crowd of admirers at the final day of the Pune International Literary Festival (PILF) on Sunday, after filmmaker and critic Khalid Mohammed asked her if she would shake a leg on the popular numbers of the day.

"Nowadays, dance sequences are more like acrobatics as opposed to the good old Bollywood dance moves. Also, our Indian dance forms are getting lost," she rued. Parekh, who retired from the cine-screen in the 1990s, is now majorly involved with her philanthropic ventures She co-authored her autobiography, A Hit Girl, with Mohammed. The book's publisher Ajay Mago is also a PILF panellist.

The conversation went on for about an hour, and before the audience could ask questions, Parekh and Mohammed engaged in a long and winding discussion about her life, career, her parents being from different religious backgrounds, a crucial part of which was in the city. "I have a great attachment with Pune," she said, switching to Marathi, "khara sangte, khota bolat nahi (I am speaking the truth)." My mother, a Bohri Muslim, was studying at the Fergusson College and my father would come to Pune on the weekends to meet her. He even proposed to her in the city, following which they got married and celebrated at a city hotel."

Parekh added that her parents did face much opposition from either families. When Mohammed asked her if she thought India or the films made here were secular, she replied in the affirmative. "India is much more secular than it ever was. More people belonging to different religious backgrounds are getting married. Though conventional beliefs still exist, India is a better place to live in," she said.

Sharing anecdotes of her advent into films as a child artist to those as an adult, she said that not taking training as an actor is something she regrets. "I used to think that acting is not something which can be learnt, but should come from within. But when I look at the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) and the number of actors, filmmakers and technicians it has produced, I wish I could have joined similar institutes. It always helps," she told the audience.

The actress, who remained unmarried, spoke of her battle with depression and loneliness after her parents passed away. She, however, did acknowledge that she has been in love before. "Yes, I did love Nasir Hussain (the film producer she collaborated with in numerous films). But nothing could have happened between us. He was already a married man and I did not want to be the other woman in his life," she remarked.


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