Salman Khan writes they don’t make them like Asha Parekh anymore

The Sultan actor has written the foreword of the upcoming book on Asha Parekh written by journalist Khalid Mohammed.

Sonal Pandya

It’s been 66 years since Asha Parekh first stepped in front of the camera as a child artiste in Aasmaan (1951). Khalid Mohammed’s upcoming book, The Hit Girl, will trace the journey of the successful actress who continued acting (albeit in fewer roles) until the 1990s. Besides films, Parekh is also a skilled dancer who has toured the world with her dance ballets.

Actor Salman Khan, an admirer of the actress through his father Salim Khan, who acted with her in the classic Teesri Manzil (1966), has penned the foreword for the book which is due to hit bookstores this month. Through his memories, Salman recalls how “film producers and directors would rush to sign her on for a movie since she guaranteed box-office success.” This is the first time he has written a foreword; claiming he wasn’t sure he would be able to do justice to her life and career since she has been a good family friend to the Khans, watching Salman and his siblings grow up.

Stating that “they don’t make them like her any more”, Salman wrote that the actress was “an all-rounder, she was especially good at dance numbers, had a flair for comedy, emoted simply and effortlessly.” With the re-release of her older films and repeated airings on television channels, he was able to catch her films. His favourite Asha Parekh films include Jab Pyar Kisise Hota Hai (1961), Mera Gaon Mera Desh (1971), Kati Patang (1970), Caravan (1971) and of course, Teesri Manzil. Interestingly, Jab Pyaar Kisise Hota Hai was also the name of Salman’s own film in 1998 opposite Twinkle Khanna.

Khan notes that the 1960s, where Asha Parekh first shot to fame after her big break in Dil Deke Dekho (1959), was all about the conflict between the wealthy and poor. He compares the films of that time to the films made today writing, “Today love can be on a short fuse. There can be a power breakdown or a separation of ways in a film’s strings of sequels or what are called a ‘franchise’. The hero or the heroine can change in the next edition of a franchise. Happy endings, the kind which were ordained for Ashaji and her heroes are not possible any longer. It all depends on which hero or heroine is marketable when a sequel is launched. Ashaji did not have to face such commercial necessities.”

According to Salman, we should “admire and respect our artistes who continue to serve as inspiration in various aspects, like style, fashion and the professional approach towards performing before the camera.” Parekh had been acting since she was a child and did not grow conscious in front of the camera. He noted that she usually had a pleasant, friendly screen presence and easily struck a bond with the audience.

Khan then points out Asha Parekh’s more charitable activities, starting with her hospital in Santacruz. He writes, “For a good artiste it is a must to be a good human being. In this context Ashaji’s kindness and concern for people in need continues to be a noteworthy example. She has been running a charitable hospital since decades. Which other artiste has done that in Mumbai, a city which is all about I-Me-Myself? It could not be a smooth task for her to keep the institution running and helping out those who do not have sufficient resources for medical treatment.”

He also adds that Asha Parekh has been “a friend indeed to film workers and artistes facing rough weather, and that too without ever wanting recognition and praise for her silent service.” Salman himself has come to the aid of many in the industry. He laments that she perhaps ended her career prematurely after reaching a certain age. It has deprived him of the chance to be in the same frame as her.

Salman ends his foreword claiming that it was about time this book was written.

The Hit Girl, published by Om Books International, will be available online and in bookstores from 14 April 2017.