Parveen Babi was one of the most influential female glamour icons in the Hindi film industry during the 1970s. She worked as a model and an actress, and was best known for her roles besides some of the most prominent actors of her time. In particular, her pairings with Amitabh Bachchan in movies like Deewar
(1975) and Namak Halaal
(1982), and with Shashi Kapoor in Suhaag
(1979) and Kaala Patthar
(1979) gained her much acclaim.
Born in Gujarat, in 1949, Parveen Babi hailed from the royal Babi family, and was a part of the Pathan community. She completed her education in Ahmedabad, finishing off with a Master's degree in English literature. Her career began as a model in 1972, and very soon after that she got her first film offer with Charitra
(1973). Although the film was a commercial failure, she made her name known and found herself getting multiple opportunities after that. With Majboor
(1974), alongside Amitabh Bachchan, she delivered her first big hit and became an exponentially popular figure. This pairing went on to perform in some of the finest blockbusters of that era of Hindi cinema, in films like Amar Akbar Anthony
(1977) and Shaan
(1980). She was one of the most sought-after actresses of her time, and made a place for herself despite the predominance of male actors in the industry. Parveen Babi and her contemporary Zeenat Aman made ripples across audiences for bringing in a wave of modernity and glamour with their donning of Westernised attire and their chic looks. She was the face of nearly every film magazine during her time, and graced their front page in nearly every edition.
During the 1980s, she performed in several well acclaimed movies such as Do Aur Do Paanch (1980). Kranti (1981), Ashanti (1982), and Mangal Pandey (1983). It was after this that she faced a decline in her capabilities due to her struggles with mental illness. Her constant paranoia led her to make accusations against many who were close to her, including Amitabh Bachchan. This led to her becoming a recluse and isolating herself from most people. Unable to call for help and with no one around to monitor her, she finally succumbed to a gangrenous injury on her leg, and was said to have been dead for over 72 hours, in January 2005. Her last appearance was in the movie Iraada (1991) opposite Shatrughan Sinha.
The film Woh Lamhe (2006), produced by Mahesh Bhatt, was intended as a semi biographical depiction of Babi's life, especially her numerous rumoured pairings and her volatile relationship with Bhatt himself.