Asha Sachdev – Memories
I entered the film industry at a very young age. I was just 14 and I hadn’t even finished my schooling. Roshan Taneja refused to take me in his acting classes, saying that I was too young. After a lot of insistence did he allow me to join the class! Mahesh Bhatt approached me for a role in his film, Manzilen Aur Bhi Hain opposite Kabir Bedi. I couldn’t do it because I had no dates. But he thought I was acting pricey, which I wasn’t. I come from a very simple background and I never had these starry nakhras.
I did a film called Bindiya Aur Bandook, which was a runaway hit but it was a B grade film. In those days, if you acted in a B grade film, A grade directors were not ready to take you in their film so you get stuck in a B grade image. Thus I lost out on a lot of good films.
Of the few good banner films I have done, one is Double Cross, under the Navketan banner. It was nice working with Vijay Anand, the Anands are such wonderful people, they treated me like a child. Unfortunately, the film didn’t do well.
I was supposed to be launched in a film called Ek Ladki Bholi Bhali Si, in which I had a very promising role. But the producers of the film ran into some financial trouble so it didn’t take off.
I did Agent Vinod, which was a major hit. Mahendra Sandhu and I became a hot pair after that. But since we had some misunderstanding, so we refused to work with each other. Now when I look back, I think it was all very silly and petty. I regret doing it now
Another film I did was Ek Hi Raasta with Jeetendra and Shabana Azmi. I played the lead role and Shabana had the second lead.
I never liked the idea of playing the kind of roles Bindu did. I like Bindu as a person but I would never do the kind of roles she had done. For that matter, I didn’t even like the kind of roles Aruna Irani did. I liked the kind of roles Shashikala played, she was my idol. I was offered a lot of Bindu and Aruna Irani kind of roles but I didn’t do them.
Then Basu Chatterjee approached me for Priyatama. He had someone else in mind for the role and had even shot some scenes with her but he wasn’t satisfied. Even when he came to me, he was not sure I would be able to deliver what he wanted. Because all this while, I had done glamorous roles and this was an entirely different role, that of a plain Jane. But after I gave the first shot, he was convinced that I would be able to do exactly what he wanted. Priyatama was a good experience and I enjoyed doing it. That film was basically made to launch Neetu Singh as an actress. I won the Filmfare Award for that role. I still remember, the day I won an award, Rekha came over with huge bouquets to congratulate me! I will always remember that sweet gesture of hers.
In spite of everything, I was not really able to make it. I think it is luck and I think some women make it after 40. Funnily enough, I have also started looking better after 35.
If you are riding high and are successful, it is very easy to be happy with God and be confident. Anybody can be confident in Madhuri Dixit or Shah Rukh Khan’s place. Tell me, why shouldn’t they be, when there are 100 people around them, who keep saying they are good? The real test of character is if you can be confident when you are down and out. I have suffered for 18 years and still don’t feel sorry for myself. I have never gone crazy or haywire. If one can accept success, one should also be able to accept failure. At times, when I have been humiliated for no rhyme or reason, I accept it, thinking that I am destined to be humiliated in this way. If you are destined to undergo some amount of pain, you will, no matter what. There is no point in fighting destiny. When I was going through a painful phase in my life, I read a wonderful book called If Tomorrow Ever Comes. That book gave me a lot of strength.
Nobody is your friend in this industry. Subhash Ghai, Shabana Azmi, Romesh Sharma and all of them were my friends. Now where are they? Now they all belong to a different world. They know the ways of the industry. It’s a vicious circle. Very few people remain friends, when you don’t have anything in common anymore.
I feel hurt that I didn’t do well in spite of my wanting to do only good roles. I never insisted that I should be the heroine of every film that I did. I wanted to follow what Sanjeev Kumar did. He never demanded that he be given the lead role. As long as he got a chance to perform, he didn’t mind any kind of role. People appreciated me as a good actress, so after that, I didn’t want to descend to doing itsy bitsy roles. If I am destined to just sit and watch empty walls, I don’t mind but I won’t do something stupid out of desperation.
I did Kartavya, the fate of which, was neither here nor there. Aruna Irani had a major role in the film and Dimple Kapadia, who was supposed to be in the film, didn’t like this fact so she walked out. Moushumi did the same after a while but I stayed on, because I didn’t have any problem with Aruna’s role as such. I am sure she wouldn’t mind doing a small role, if I had a bigger role in a film. It sounds so petty.
The last time I met Subhash Ghai, I told him, ‘Don’t you respect me for treating you the same way I treated you years ago, when you were not so successful?’ He didn’t like it and he was not very nice to me after that. I find this attitude very funny. Here, everyone wants to be treated like God. They don’t like being treated like human beings. When we have seminars on humanity and Shabana Azmi presides over them, everyone raves about it but no one likes to practice it in reality. So I cannot call any of them my friends. My friends are from outside the industry and to them how successful I am with my career, doesn’t matter. They like me for what I am.
I was a major fan of Biswajeet. I Once, I had gone to the race course and there was Biswajeet, standing right there near his car! He saw me getting out of my car and asked me if he could take a ride with me. I was so thrilled, all the more so because later, he said he had seen me in Priyatama and he really liked me in it!
Dilipji and Sairaji are one of 10 the most wonderful people I have met. They have been always nice and helpful to me. I don’t know why nobody writes about how nice they are.
I don’t know why Shatrughan Sinha is called witty. I don’t think he’s witty at all. At the most, he can be called amusing. I think Amjad Khan was truly witty. That man was such a pleasure to work with. Randhir Kapoor is someone whom I just loved working with as well. He is such a sweet man.
I always want get married but I guess I am not lucky with men. The first man I was involved with, expired after a while. He meant a lot to me. For a long time, I couldn’t bring myself to like any one. And anyway, the men I have met after that, haven’t been very nice. Most of themm were so shallow that I couldn’t really relate to them. Today, I do feel lonely at times but then there is always hope, isn’t there? But at times, I feel happy I am not married, I see the kind of lives married women lead. Look what happened to Zeenat Aman and Poonam Dhillon. I know both these women were good wives. So what did marriage give them, in spite of being such wonderful wives?
At the moment, I see all my roads blocked. But as they say, when all the roads are blocked, something nice is bound to happen. So, I won’t lose heart. (Asha Sachdev interviewed by Shubha in 1998).