A quiet birthday for Asha Parekh


By Subhash K. Jha

Mumbai, Oct 2 (IANS) It was a relatively quiet 65th birthday for actress Asha Parekh Tuesday -- spent with her family that includes cousins, nephews and nieces.

Known as the ageless girl of the 1960s, Asha never got married -- a decision she doesn't regret.

"When there was an opportunity to do so I was busy with my career. But no regrets. Yes, I do miss a family, specially my parents."

Asha lost her mother earlier and her father recently. She sold her bungalow in Juhu and moved into a more manageable apartment a few years ago where a steady trickle of cousins, nephews and nieces keep her engaged.

And the whole family usually dines together on her special day. "That's the best birthday gift I can give myself," she laughs.

Asha sizzled in hits like "Teesri Manzil", "Kati Patang", "Jab Pyar Kissise Hota Hai" and "Love In Tokyo", which continue to be staple diets for cable television.

"That's so much in the past," Asha laughs. "I'm glad people remember those films today. But they were loads of fun to do. I was the biggest prankster in the industry. I had fun on the sets constantly.

"There was never any question of an affair with any of my co-stars. They were all buddies ... Sunil Dutt, Joy Mukherjee, Biswajeet, Shashi Kapoor, Rajesh Khanna, Dharmendra, Shammi Chacha ... that's what I call Mr Shammi Kapoor even today."

So no affairs and flings for Ashaji? "Well, it wasn't as if I was an ice maiden. I was a nice maiden," she says, and bursts out laughing.

The actress feels every girl aspiring to be in the entertainment industry should learn dancing. "I was a dancer first and an actress later. Recently I went on Sony's 'Boogie Woogie' and was amazed at the dancing skills of the young ones today."

Keeping herself completely aloof from acting, Asha now has a small but faithful group of friends. "Waheeda Rehmanji, Vyjanthimalaji, Nanda, Sadhana, Shammy Aunty and I form a core group of friends. We do meet whenever we can. But I guess everyone is busy with family and other obligations."

On the work front, she has been producing and directing television serials for a decade. But not any more.

"At least not right now. The television industry has changed so much. It has become too cut-throat for me. I was never competitive as an actress. Why should I get into any race now?"