Starting as a child artiste, Asha Parekh was actually rejected for her first film as a heroine. She was apparently termed ‘not star material’.
But within a few days she landed the lead female role in Nasir Hussain’s Dil Deke Dekho in 1959 and a star was born. Such was her popularity in the 1960s that almost all her films were a hit.
She earned the tag of ‘Hit Actress’ and she delivered. She started as a glamour girl or a tomboy and later graduated to serious roles with ease.
She was a wonderful dancer, thanks to her mother enrolling her to learn classical dance at an early age. She took on some mother roles after she aged but it did not suit her style. She went into TV production and continued her noted humanitarian work.
Here are five of her films from her peak days:
Love in Tokyo (1966)
Cast: Joy Mukherjee, Asha Parekh, Pran, Mehmood, Lalita Pawar
Director: Pramod Chakravorthy
Ashok (Joy Mukherjee) is sent by his mother Gayatridevi (Lalita Pawar) to Japan to fetch her grandson from another son. Ashok lands in Japan and falls in love with Asha (Asha Parekh) despite his mother having chosen Sarita as his future wife.
Gayantridevi does not approve of Asha, who is to be married to Pran (Pran) a man she dislikes. She decides to run away with Ashok but the couple are met with stiff resistance before all ends well.
Do Badan (1966)
Cast: Manoj Kumar, Asha Parekh, Pran, Simi Garewal, Mohan Choti
Director: Raj Khosla
A poor man Vikas (Manoj Kumar) falls in love with the wealthy Asha (Asha Parekh) in college but is forced to work as his father dies and he is unable to give his exams. Asha’s father is keen that she marries Ashwini (Pran) but she has already fallen in love with Vikas.
Ashwini plans an accident which leaves Vikas blinded. This clears the path for him and he marries Asha. But complications arise when Vikas gets his eyesight back and Asha falls seriously ill. Will truth triumph or bring more miseries?
Pyar Ka Mausam (1969)
Cast: Asha Parekh, Shashi Kapoor, Bharat Bhushan, Rajendranath, Nirupa Roy, Iftekhar
Director: Nasir Hussain
The plot focuses on a family drama where one such unit is torn apart and then meet again in different circumstances. Seema (Asha Parekh) is an orphan who is adopted by her late father’s boss Sardar Ranjit Singh. His daughter Jamuna (Nirupa Roy) has married a poor peasant Gopal (Bharat Bhushan).
Jamuna placates her dad but when he goes to meet her, their house is on fire and Gopal dead and their son Sunder (Shashi Kapoor) missing. Seema meets a young man called Pyarelal, who is actually Sundar, and falls for him. But her father had committed to her marriage with someone else in childhood. Things become a mess before being resolved.
Cast: Jeetendra, Asha Parekh, Aruna Irani, Mehmood Jr, Helen, Krishen Mehta
Director: Nasir Hussain
Sunita (Asha Parekh) is forced to wed Rajan (Krishen Mehta) who kills her father after he comes to know that the former was embezzling his money. Now Rajan and his girlfriend are plotting to kill her too. Sunita comes to know about this and tries to escape to Bangalore and comes across a band of gypsies who are willing to help her.
There she meets a caravan driver Mohan (Jeetendra) and falls in love with him. But things are not that easy as a knife thrower Nisha (Aruna Irani) is already in love with Mohan and won’t let anyone come near him. Will Sunita get her man?
Kati Patang (1971)
Cast: Rajesh Khanna, Asha Parekh, Prem Chopra, Bindu, Nasir Hussain
Director: Shakti Samanta
Madhu (Asha Parekh) runs away from home to escape an arranged marriage to an unknown person. She is madly in love with Kailash (Prem Chopra) who turns out to be bad. She meets her friend Poonam who is in dire straits on account of her husband who died early and is now going to her in-laws with her child. The train in which they are travelling derails and Madhu has to take Poonam’s identity after the former is injured and about to die.
The family accepts and there she meets forest officer Kamal (Rajesh Khanna) who is actually the person she was supposed to marry. The latter falls in love with her but her assumed status won’t allow him to get further. Kailash also lands up there with evil intentions. The complexities are resolved after much drama.