63, and still going strong?
I can’t help thinking about how fortunate I am to be alive and healthy. So many people I’ve known closely like (husband) Mazhar Khan, Raj Kapoor saab, Dev Anand saab, Smita Patil and Parveen Babi are no longer with us. One is just so happy and grateful for the gift of life, reasonable health and family and friends to love.”
Why is every new actress compared to you?
What can I say? It just makes me feel iconic. I feel special when I’m told girls look up to me.
Your sensuousness was way ahead of its times? In some films it almost appeared exploitative?
You know, at that time one didn’t look at what was done as exploitative. In hindsight, it may seem like a commercial gambit. But when I did it, I didn’t think I was doing anything bold. I did it all with such confidence. Now as I look back, I think certain scenes were a little too sensuous.
Why aren’t you seen on screen more often?
Honestly, I’m not offered anything substantial. The past years have been devoted to my sons. I’ve been so immersed in the task of being a single parent that I haven’t really given anything else a serious thought. Now that the boys are growing up, I’m open to appropriate roles. But nobody is knocking my door down.
You are associated with the most wonderful songs from the 1970s…
I was so fortunate to have those songs that are alive even today. Thirty years down the road, they’re being air-played as remixes or whatever. I guess it was about being in the right place at the right time. When I did those songs I had no idea they’d be important later. I just went by instinct.
You’ve gone through very trying times…
Yes, they’ve made me stronger. There’s no fixed pattern or formula to life. No one is going to guarantee only happiness. There’ll be downs. The trick is to ride the downs and not get carried away by the highs.
Do you think stardom comes easier to today’s newcomers ?
Not at all. Yes, some of them find it easier to get an entry. But everyone has to work hard.
You were right at the top when you opted for marriage and motherhood. Is that what all actresses should do?
I can’t speak for other actresses. But, yes, I desperately wanted to be a mother. I had no siblings. I was the only child. After 15 years in the movie business I was ready to have my own family.
And to have a family you need to be married?
Oh, to me marriage was imperative for motherhood. I could never impose my own morality on my children. I think it’s very wrong to be an unwed mother. You give your child the stigma of illegitimacy.
So would you have gone without marriage if you didn’t want to be a mother?
Definitely! I got married in October and the next October I had my first son.
Have you forgiven the men who have hurt you?
Yes, I’ve forgiven them completely. I see no point in holding grudges. I’d rather not have any negativity within me. It’s all gone, washed away. With every passing year it’s only the here and the now that seems important.