Veteran actress Asha Parekh, who turns 71 Wednesday, is popularly known as the glamorous 'Miss Neeta'. But she also gave some truly sensitive performances when the need arose.
Here's looking at her 10 best films:
"Do Badan" (1966): The first of Raj Khosla's trilogy of films that offered scope for Asha to perform in a serious dramatic role. In the film, her co-star Manoj Kumar loses his eyesight and the class divide seperates the two lovers. The lovers meet with a tragic end in the movie.
"Teesri Manzil" (1966): An out-and-out late actor Shammi Kapoor's vehicle, in which Asha left a sunny mark by creating her own space as a girl in search of her dead sister's killer. Her sheer vivacity and space control in the film's celebrated R.D. Burman's songs furnished Shammi a worthy co-star.
"Baharon Ke Sapne" (1967): At a time when her career was saturated with light-hearted picnicky roles, Asha surprised everyone, including herself, with her scrubbed no-makeup look and intense performance in her mentor Nasir Hussain's most realistic film ever. Set in the backdrop of mill workers woes, the film saw Asha as Rajesh Khanna's love interest.
"Chirag" (1969): Filmmaker Raj Khosla had a special affinity to Asha's histrionic persona that most directors chose to bypass. In this dramatic film, Asha was cast as a blind woman who is estranged from her husband played by late actor Sunil Dutt. It is still remembered for her restrained performance and the Madan Mohan composed melody "Teri aankhon ke siva duniya mein rakha kya hai".
"Kati Patang" (1970): Veteran actress Sharmila Tagore turned down the role of the widow in the film. Director Shakti Samanta, who had done two wonderful films - "Aradhana" and "Amar Prem" - with late actor Rajesh Khanna and Sharmila, signed Asha instead. Playing the unfortunate lady in white, Asha melted hearts and also won popular awards like Filmfare for her performance.
"Nadaan" (1971): She played a tomboy who transforms into a feminine entity after she is smooched by actor Navin Nischol. Deven Verma directed this forgettable film, made memorable by the actress' fun-to-sombre transition.
"Caravan" (1971): The last of the seven films that she did with her mentor Nasir Hussain, "Caravan" was arguably the biggest hit of Asha's success-driven career. Though the focus was on Aruna Irani as the fiery gypsy woman, Asha held her own as the runaway girl mostly hidden from public view.
"Main Tulsi Tere Aangan Ki" (1978): As the eponymous Tulsi destined to remain an outsider in the home set-up Asha had only 20 minutes of playing-time in this Nutan-dominated drama directed by Raj Khosla. But she left a lasting impression. The soul-searing title song sung by Lata Mangeshkar aided her performance.
"Bin Phere Hum Tere"(1979): The movie gave her a chance to play the archetypal all-giving mother-figure. Asha's character goes through many phases of cruelty in a patriarchal society, from prostitution to widowhood to an all-sacrificing mother's role as she devotes her life to looking after her dead beloved's twin sons. One can't say much about the quality of film that featured Vinod Mehra in a double role. But Asha shone.
What more can we say about this effervescent actress, except to borrow a line from a song in "Bharosa" - "Aaj ki mulaqat bass itni".
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