Asha Parekh came, conquered and reclined from the film industry much before I was born, but that does not make me any less fan of the bubbly actress. Every time the woman with stylish bouffant, kohl-lined eyes, trendy jewellery and sleeveless blouse appeared on television screen, I would set aside everything and observe her in rapt attention. I especially loved her films with Dharmendra, he being my favourite star from that generation, as the two represented the epitome of beauty to me. I still find her one of the most graceful leading ladies from the 1960-70s era, but her grace was not stoic. Far from that, her grace was more human, her warm smile and innocent laughter added a charm to her poise. She rocked with almost all the leading men of her time, be it Rajesh Khanna, Shammi Kapoor, Jeetendra, Joy Mukherjee or Shashi Kapoor. Asha Parekh had the ability to breathe spark into any living being. While Sadhana was a woman pinning for love, Saira Banu manifested naiveté in a woman and Sharmila Tagore presented a matured female, Asha Parekh was that beautiful rich dame who despite being bubbly and innocent knew the nuances of a relationship. Asha’s vivaciousness was her USP; her directors too understood this and never tried to undermine this aspect in her roles. Whenever they did, the audiences didn’t approve.
A viewer always wants to know more about what she sees and likes, hence it comes as no surprise that whenever a star comes out with an autobiography it sells like hot cakes. Asha Parekh’s The Hit Girl would be a treat to all her fans, and also to the lovers of that age. Though written with Khalid Mohamed, it can still be called an autobiography as the narration is in first person and the reader can feel the warmth with which the actress shares few stories, especially her relationship with her parents and friends. The book is a good read for a fan who wants to know the life and journey of Asha Parekh. If you, like me, are looking for few stories from the film sets and inside news from those times, then it will be a disappointment. For all her candor, Parekh though writes about experiences with her co-stars, directors and unit members, she never goes beyond that. Her accounts are limited to her encounters and she refrains from recounting many stories from other people’s lives. This can be attributed to her very private nature, and though not satisfied I would say I did enjoy reading her life story. Many times it seems to us that successful people are happy, and have been happy throughout their lives, but that’s not true. Parekh too had her trysts with tough times. As she goes on to narrate the household situations of her family, one may feel that her venturing into the cine world at such a tender age maybe out of her parent’s financial situation. But one can’t ignore the fact that this girl had dance and drama in her blood, she was so keen to dance that sometimes even to her it seemed that her feet were not under her control. However, anybody would have been amazed if she would not have been into acting; it seems that her selection in her debut movie as heroine was destined. And she never looked back after that.
The decades of ’60 and ’70s saw her in best form, especially her movies with the Kapoor brothers, Joy Mukherjee and Rajesh Khanna. Her transformation from a beautiful-innocent girl to an earthy woman was not swift, and many may have criticised her for her dreamy roles but we can’t ignore the fact that actors are supposed to work in other people’s scripts and stories. Choosing a story is in their hands, but what if almost all the stories are about dreamy love and romantic numbers. A special mention needs to be made for the songs picturised on Asha Parekh. She’s one of those lucky heroines whose almost all songs have been hit, not to mention her films. She was rightly called a golden girl or hit girl. Her few romantic numbers can make anyone take note even today.
The Hit Girl also delves into the dark corners of a celebrity life. The glitz and glamour may not always translate into a blissful life. And Asha Parekh has shared her demons courageously in the book. She has also motivated people to come out and speak about their depression. Her social causes, especially her work in health field, have also been described well in the book. Parekh not only ruled the era when she performed but also has been contributing greatly to the industry which has made her what she’s today through her association with many organisations working for the improvement of the actors.