Age is just a number for these yesteryear Bollywood actresses

Feb 21, 2016, 10:00 IST | Shaheen Parkar

At 67, Hema Malini releases a music video. Tabassum, at 71, launches a web series.  B-town's veterans are in the mind to reinvent their image to woo the younger audience

Last week, Hema Malini unveiled her music album, 'Dream Girl', in the presence of 'Sholay' co-stars, Dharmendra, Amitabh Bachchan and Jaya Bachchan.

With this, the actor, dancer, politician and social welfare activist added another feather to her hat.

Hemal Malini

Impressed with Hema’s passion to do things new, Jaya Bachchan complimented her. “Hema inspires me to try something new too.”

Hema Malini with actor Vipul Roy during the shoot of her music video
Hema Malini with actor Vipul Roy during the shoot of her music video

Jaya, in her characteristic frank manner, added that it’s time their other female contemporaries took a leaf out of Hema’s book and tried  something new. Happy to have Jaya echo her sentiments, Hema said, “It is imperative for everyone, to keep growing and be in tune with the younger generation.”

While at 67 Hema is crooning love songs, actress-turned-anchor Tabassum Govil recently launched a web series, Tabassum Talkies. Best remembered for her iconic TV show, Phool Khile Hain Gulshan Gulshan, at 71, Tabassum is in no mood
to stop.

Tabassum’s chirpy voice and her infectious enthusiasm are still intact and she hopes to make full use of them. Tabassum, who got her first taste of popularity when she essayed the younger version of Nargis in Deedar way back in 1951, is now keen  not to be forgotten.

And she knows the only way to get the younger generation to get hooked to her show is by speaking through the medium that they best understand. The two veterans of Bollywood reveal what keeps them going.

Hema Malini
I did not do any regular riyaaz to turn singer.  If I had, I would not have taken up singing. Now, that I have got a taste of it, I want to professionally train in music. I am always looking to do something new.

The music video, which has a young vibe, was shot in Goa. We shot on the beaches with youngsters. In the song, I am like a love guru, telling them how to woo their love. It was fun shooting with the young bunch.

I never say never to anything. Tomorrow I may do something else. While dance remains my passion, I want to tread new terrain. Last year, during a political campaign, Babul Supriyo happened to ask me what songs I was listening to on my iPhone.

He was impressed by my vast music collection. He was pleasantly surprised when I told him that I had rendered two Bengali tracks, Gun Gun Gun and Kande Re Mon, with Kishore Kumar for a Durga Puja celebration in the 1970s.

In fact, Kishoreda would coax me to sing. He felt that if I could act and dance, I could sing too. Babul convinced me to get into singing. Lata Mangeshkar is my favourite singer and there is no one like her.

I hope to cut more albums and sing a variety of songs. If I had to do playback, I would sing for myself.

Tabassum Govil
Digital media has taken over by storm and it is where things happen. It is an exciting platform where everyone is online, especially the youth. One is connected, whichever part of the world you are in. With my web series, Tabassum Talkies, I want to reach out to the young brigade.

I am tech savvy and even have a Twitter handle. Making my presence online has given me a new high and it is a fresh start. I began as a child star in the 1950s, but never made a mark as a leading actress. Far from being morose and dejected, or waiting for that big break, I branched out. I ventured into the realm of radio and television, which, at that time, was new.

My chat show, Phool Khile Hai Gulshan Gushan, began on October 8, 1972, on Doordarshan and the show ran till 1993. I produced, wrote, scripted and invited the film folk. I was paid R75 per episode, wore my own saris and jewellery. The set only had two chairs and a handcarved wooden screen partition as the backdrop. And yes, it was DD, so there could be a fly hovering around which you had to keep swatting on camera! As I was part of the industry, I had the goodwill of the fraternity and that’s why they agreed to be guests on my show.

Tabassum with Shatrughan Sinha. Her personal rapport with the stars managed to get them on her show and reveal lesser known facts
Tabassum with Shatrughan Sinha. Her personal rapport with the stars managed to get them on her show and reveal lesser known facts

The stars would come to the Worli studio of DD for the chat. In those days, there was no satellite television, so people would wait every week to see who the guest would be. But Tabassum Talkies goes beyond just Phool Khile Hain Gulshan Gulshan. It is not only my interviews, but backstage banter, trivia about the stars as well as jokes. People above 35 years of age will recall my show, but now, I will cater to a younger audience. I have restored conversations with stars like Sunil Dutt, Kishore Kumar and Dilip Kumar among others.

I entertained their grandparents once. Far from taking a back seat, I am busy every single day. Apart from my web series, I also do a show, Abhi To Main Jawan Hoon for a network in the US. I have done films with the grandparents of today’s stars. I have worked with Prithviraj Kapoor and have grown up with Randhir Kapoor and seen Rishi Kapoor grow up. I hope to interview their children too. I have seen Sanjay Dutt and Aamir Khan as children, I hope to do shows with their offsprings in the future too.

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