My hospital is my life now: Asha Parekh

Mumbai, Oct 11 (IANS) She is no longer seen that often on screen. But yesteryear's go-go girl Asha Parekh has big plans for the hospital named after her, the BCG Hospital aka the Asha Parekh Hospital.

Besieged with problems and facing a lockout for the past eight months, the hospital in Santa Cruz is about to re-open and the actress wants to transform it into the best medicare facility for the working class.

Recounting the deadlock experience, Asha Parekh told IANS: "It has been hell for us. Eight months ago some people barged into the hospital and forced the staff to leave the premises, arguing that we were going to convert the hospital into a shopping mall. I tried to argue with them, saying I wasn't a mad woman to do something so insane and insensitive to the needs of the people in and around Santa Cruz."

Asha Parekh featured in some of the biggest hits of the 1960s and 70s such as "Love In Tokyo", "Kati Patang", "Jab Pyar Kisise Hota Hai", "Teesri Manzil" and "Do Badan".

Throughout her career the actress has been involved in charitable work as well. "I don't even want to talk about my social work," she brushes off the compliment.

"The hospital is more than a project or a mission for me. It's my life now. Earlier, I never took interest in its day-to-day working. But the long shutdown has made me realise how important the hospital is to the common people of Santa Cruz.

"There are no other affordable health services for the middle class in and around Santa Cruz. Why are all the good hospitals in Mumbai only for the privileged patients? Is the common man's life less important? My hospital was and will be for the working class."

As soon as the hospital re-opens, she wants to expand and improve it drastically.

"We've about 300 beds. We want to double that number and introduce several new health facilities that would make our hospital more efficient. We've big expansion plans. I want my hospital to be the one-stop healthcare centre in and around Santa Cruz."

"I know people look at it as my hospital, and it is," says Asha. "I've therefore decided to take keener interest in the day-to-day working of the hospital."

Keeping in mind the growing demand on her time to get the hospital back on its feet and to then modify, expand and develop the health centre, Asha Parekh has set all her other social and cinema-related work aside.

"I'm only doing the dance-based reality show 'Tyohaar Dhamaka' on 9X. It was a prior commitment and also I've never been a judge on a reality show before. So this was a new experience for me. Also, it was a dance-based show so I couldn't resist it. Dance was my main passion earlier. Now it's the hospital."

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