Subhash K Jha Picks Parveen Babi’s 5 Finest
Unfairly , she was always compared with Zeenat Aman and even labelled the Poor Man’s Zeenat. In truth Parveen was a better actress who never got the opportunities that Zeenat did, never worked with directors like Raj Kapoor and Dev Anand, and still left a mark even in the smallest of roles. Try these for sighs.
1. Charitra(1973): In her very first film Parveen flung away the image of the typical heroine to play a girl who is compelled to sleep with her father’s creditor who impregnates her and refuses to own up to the child. It took a director of B R Isaara’s unorthodoxy to launch a new liberated Hindi film heroine whose charitra was not impeccable and who shockingly enough indulged in pre-marital sex. From the beginning it was clear PB wouldn’t fit into the typical Sati Savitri mould.To hell with virginity.
2. Deewaar(1975): PB did a string of very successful films with Amitabh Bachchan including Amar Akbar Anthony where she was Jenny, Anthony’s sweetheart . They both emerged out of an Easter egg in the film and captivated the audience.But my pick of her films with AB is Deewaar where she played the liberated unfettered unorthodox Anita who shares bed with no strings attached with Vijay. Her love theme I am falling in love with a stranger typified the route that Ms Babi had chosen for her career.
3. Chandi Sona(1977): Sanjay Khan’s incurably silly treasure-hunt film had a treasurable Parveen Babi in that legendary Cleopatra get-up which Time magazine saw and put on their cover.Much to the envy of the other top actresses of the time.This is how Parveen Babi became globally famous. This is the film’s only claim to fame. As she goes on a treasure hunt with Mr Khan, Parveen can actually be seen having a whole lot of fun with her dimwitted part. Ever chic and glamorous we seldom saw her having fun with her characters.
4. Ashanti(1982): Umesh Mehra’s Charlie’s Angels with Zeenat Aman, Shabana Azmi and Parveen Babi whooping it up in style. Parveen seemed to enjoy the role of a gun-toting,karate-wielding kickass female hero. And this was one film she enjoyed making because there was so sexual tension on the sets.I always wanted to see this stunning beauty in an action avtar. This was PB’s chance. She grabbed it.
5. Yeh Nazdeekiyan(1982): 1982 was an exceptionally busy year for Parveen. She worked with Hrishikesh Mukherjee for the first time in Rang Birangi and he told me he wished he had offered her a more substantial role. During the same year she played the Other Woman in three films: Eshmayeel Shroff’s Dil Aakhir Dil Hai, J Om Prakash’s Arpan (stealing Jeetendra away from Reena Roy, PB was the ritzy female arpan cowboy) and Vinod Pandey’s Yeh Nazdeekiyan where she played a hot model Kiran who steals Shabana Azmi’s husband but returns him back(sood samet) when she realizes she doesn’t want to be branded a homebreaker. Her meatiest part ever, Parveen sank her crooked teeth into it with a wolfish delight.If only she had lived long enough to see sexual liberation hit Bollywood.