Asha Parekh On Being ‘Self-Partnered’: “I Met My Share Of Boys. The Narcissism Was Repulsive”

Asha Parekh has achieved numerous milestones in her life. The actress who rose to fame with Shammi Kapoor in Dil Deke Dekho, went on to give back to back hits. From a child artist to the film’s heroine and then the mother of the male lead, the 77-year-old actress has aged parallel with her roles in the movies.

In a recent interview, the veteran star shared her expert experience on the topics of love, life and career. She candidly opened up about her choice of embracing singlehood. “Staying alone was probably one of the best decisions I made. I was in love with a married man and didn’t want to be a homewrecker so, in retrospect, it was the only choice I had, according to the way I wanted to live my life,” she said.

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Reposted from @verveindia (@get_regrann) – Being the highest-paid and most successful actor of her time, '60s superstar #AshaParekh had suitors line up by the dozens to ask for her hand in marriage. But the 77-year-old superstar rejected all of them in favour of a solitary existence. Why was that? Did no man ever match up to her standards? Did her reputation and beauty intimidate prospective partners? Parekh reveals that staying alone was probably one of the best decisions she ever made, adding that 'love', as she knows it, is very different from what the word means today. "People mistake the thrill of early love for a relationship that is capable of braving storms and get disillusioned when they find out that their partner isn’t perfect. Polygamy is becoming quite commonplace today and for someone like me who believes that love is eternal and all-encompassing, it is quite shocking. Maybe we are evolving as a species or maybe we’ve just forgotten how to love." Full story at the link in bio. Words by: @sadaf_shaikh Styled by: @shwetanav Photographed by: @sushantchhabria Hair by: Perpetual Rodrigues Make-up by: @tulsi5solanki __ #UntyingTheKnot #CelebrateYou #NewIssue – #regrann

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“I was always aware that epic love is only found in the movies. But romantic ties weren’t the only kind of relationships I paid attention to,” she added.

Parekh also spoke about the troubled marriages she has seen in the industry and life, she told Mid-Day, “Time and circumstance are everything. You can’t stop what is meant to happen, and you can’t force what isn’t fated to occur. But I hope you know you’re signing up for a life of endurance. Men can be temperamental, and you have to learn to be the balancing force in this relationship.”

“During my time in the industry, there were instances of star couples having trouble in their marriages because the men used to philander. It was the women who chose to stick by them even though they knew the kind of shenanigans their husbands were up to. Those marriages have now endured, only because the lady of the house mastered the art of forgiveness or even ignorance at times,” she added.

Parekh’s father who belonged to a Gujarati household married her mother who was a Muslim. She grew up in a family with mixed cultures talking about the same Parekh said, “My parents were very much in love and, back then, it was a deviation for a Hindu man to marry a Muslim girl; it was almost guaranteed that you would be estranged from your family forever. But everyone has to bow down in the face of true love.”

“And their marriage was a very successful one. My mother was a spirited woman, and she managed to bring the whole family together when I was convinced that they’d be cross with us forever. My parents’ love was truly the stuff of fairy tales. When my mother passed away, it felt like my father lost a good chunk of his soul. And although it made me sad to see him that way, it also reinforced my belief in the all-consuming power of love, she added.”

Parekh also opened up on whether the characters she played in her films affected her approach towards real life. “I am a thorough romantic at heart, but I am a realist as well. Like the characters I played, I truly felt that there was nothing wrong with a poor man and a rich girl falling in love; an anomaly in those times since a soundbank statement was the cornerstone of every relationship. Even so, I was always aware that epic love is only found in the movies. But romantic ties weren’t the only kind of relationship I paid attention to. I have always been a very sentimental person. If I saw a person suffering, my heart would go out to them,” she said.

In her film, ‘Main Tulsi Tere Aagan Ki’, Asha Parekh played the role of the ‘other woman’ who falls in love with a married man. Many fans who found Parekh’s character relatable wrote to her seeking advice. “Long story short, I told them to steer clear of married men. And this is something I believed in and practiced myself. You are hurting somebody, and it gets so much worse if children are involved — they grow up with all sorts of insecurities. If you think your marriage isn’t going to work out, don’t produce children because you end up muddling their idea of love,” she told them.

“I know I admitted to being in love with Nasir Hussain in The Hit Girl, but as much as I loved him, I could never consider breaking up his family and traumatising his children. It was far simpler and satisfying to be on my own. Make no mistake, it wasn’t like I didn’t want to get married. In fact, my mother was very keen on it and had even assembled my trousseau in advance. I met my share of boys but the end result was always the same — they weren’t the right kind of men for me. Over time, my mother also gave up her dream of seeing me as a bride because whomever she showed my horoscope to would say my marriage wouldn’t be a successful one. It was not the kind of thing I believed in, but it did grant me some semblance of peace,” she told Verve Magazine.

Parekh spilled the beans about her idea of arranged marriages and said, “When I went out with the boys that my mother set me up with, I was completely put off by the whole premise of marriage. They were so fussy! They’d take longer to get ready than I did and would keep preening in the mirror. The narcissism was repulsive. I know it seems silly but these little things really nettled me. There was also the case of my heroes Rajesh Khanna and Vinod Khanna getting an earful from their girlfriends during outstation shoots because they were gallivanting and making merry at night instead of being in bed. I would’ve never been able to take someone dictating terms to me — I was just not cut out for it.

Sharing a glimpse into her love life, Asha said, “I did come very close to tying the knot once with a professor from the US. I was visiting him and we were in a cafe at 2 a.m., when he turned to me and nonchalantly said, ‘I have a girlfriend and you’ve come in the way’. It completely caught me off guard. In a way, that was the final straw for me in this whole wedding business. My friend was traveling with me at the time and when I told her that we were returning to India that very instant, she asked me how I wasn’t gutted that I was cutting ties so unceremoniously with the man I was supposed to be marrying.”

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Reposted from @retrobollywood (@get_regrann) – Asha Parekh 🎂 “We were shooting in Darjeeling, and after pack up the producers and other crew members would party till late in the night. I would also join the party and we would get drunk. In the morning the smell (of alcohol) would be quite evident, so to hide the smell I would eat onions. I told her that I eat onions to hide the smell of alcohol, and she asked me to stop drinking. On her suggestion, I stopped drinking and we became very good friends. We are like a family and those days were lovely. The beautiful memories at times make me sad but the amazing experiences of the past help me cheer up.” – Dharmendra, 2019. . . “There was a song in which Dharmendra ji had to dance in the water. Because it was so cold, he would turn blue. Every time he came out of the water, he would be offered brandy. However, he would look at me, because I had told him that if he drinks I will walk out of the set. This went on for two or three days, but he did not take a sip of alcohol out of his respect for me.” – Asha Parekh, 2019. Caption courtesy Bollywood Bubble. @aapkadharam #ashaparekh #birthdaygirl #jubileegirl #goldenjubileegirl #hitgitl #hitpair #hitjodi #dharmendra #dharmendra_my_idol #aayedinbaharke #70sbollywood – #regrann

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“When I gave her the unedited version, she was livid, but I told her to let it go and, with time, got over it myself. However, his birthday came around a few months later and I expectantly sent him presents, hoping to give the relationship another shot. When I called him, he began rambling in Gujarati and that seemed odd to me because we normally conversed in English. That’s when I learned that he was in bed with his girlfriend while talking to me. It upset me, and I took it quite badly for a while, but eventually, I got over it. I am a firm believer of the phrase ‘This too shall pass’. And it did,” she recalled.

Asha believes, “Marriage is not all rainbows and butterflies; you have to give in to your partner’s whims every now and then, and that’s a two-way street.”

Maybe marriage was not Asha’s cup of tea but being a parent was. She said she loves children and regrets not being able to adopt one. “I love children. I did come across a child that triggered a fervent maternal instinct in me, but he was suffering from some birth defects and the doctors refused to let me adopt him. They asked me to select another child, but my love for this child I didn’t even know was unrelenting and I was adamant on adopting only him. But it was not to be. Soon after, my mother suffered a stroke and I then got occupied with looking after her. I was very attached to mum and the very notion of having another being to care for besides her then seemed inconceivable,” she shared.

Asha shared her take on the new age of digital romance, “Today, people are falling in love and getting out of it without so much as a decent conversation about it because they don’t have tolerance. Marriage is not all rainbows and butterflies; you have to give in to your partner’s whims every now and then, and that’s a two-way street.”

“I feel that today’s youngsters burn out too fast and call it quits over trivial issues, which shouldn’t be the case. People mistake the thrill of an early love for a relationship that is capable of braving storms and get disillusioned when they find out that their partner isn’t perfect. Polygamy is becoming quite commonplace today and for someone like me who believes that love is eternal and all-encompassing, it is quite shocking. Maybe we are evolving as a species or maybe we’ve just forgotten how to love,” she said.

Considering the fact that she has been ‘self-partnered’ all her life, Asha was asked if friends played an important role in her life to which Asha replied, “Absolutely. My friends are why I’ve managed to hold on to my sanity and fight bouts of depression. Shammiji (Nargis Rabadi) was always with me before she passed away last year. I remember that I was shooting for a dance sequence when the episode with the aforementioned professor happened. She was on set at the time and she could tell that something was amiss. I didn’t want to cause any kind of drama in front of my co-stars so I kept brushing her off, but she could tell I needed a shoulder to cry on.

“Finally, I told her the whole story in between shots and her first reaction was to cuss him. It was like instant therapy. And so I really believe that one should have friends. Saira (Banu) and I go years without meeting, but then we make sudden plans and catch up on everything. She can’t leave her home because of Yusuf (Dilip Kumar) saahab’s health. When I visit her she adorably complains about the fact that I stopped dyeing my hair black. I am closer to Waheeda (Rehman) and Helen because we travel together. Recently we went to Turkey and did a Scandinavian cruise. Waheeda and I then went to Alaska and Canada, and just a month ago, we went to Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve. You can never completely confide in your mother or a sibling, but close friends will never judge you,” she shared.

“That said, I enjoy spending time on my own as much as I do with friends, if not more. I have discovered that I have an adventurous soul and enjoy the adrenaline rush that comes with indulging in gutsy activities. I recently called up a cousin when I found out that the world’s longest urban zipline is in Dubai and told her that I absolutely had to do it next time I visited the city. She laughed incredulously but didn’t try to talk me out of it because she knows that once I have my heart set on something — whether that is remaining single or bungee jumping off the tallest building in the world — I won’t stop at anything to achieve it,” she added.

Asha Parekh’s wise words stem from experience and are inspiring. We hope she keeps beaming like the star she always has been!