Veteran actress Asha Parekh has been named as the recipient of the Dadasaheb Phalke Award, India's highest honour in the field of cinema. Parekh, 79, will be honoured at the 68th National Film Awards in New Delhi on Friday.
The award winners for films that were released in 2020 were announced in July, with Tamil drama Soorarai Pottru and historical Hindi flick Tanhaji: The Unsung Warrior sweeping the major categories. The annual event, which is usually presided over by India's president, had been delayed owing to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Asha Parekh is a renowned film actress, director and producer and an accomplished classical dancer. Starting her career as a child actor, she made her debut in Dil Deke Dekho, and has acted in over 95 movies since, including Kati Patang, Teesri Manzil, Love in Tokyo, Aya Sawan Jhoom Ke, Aan Milo Sajna and Mera Gaon Mera Desh," India's Ministry of Information and Broadcasting said.
Parekh, who began her acting career aged 10 with the 1952 film Maa, became a huge star following the release of Dil Deke Dekho in 1959 in which she starred opposite Shammi Kapoor. A trained classical dancer, she would soon become one of the highest-paid actresses in Bollywood in the 1960s and '70s, going on to star in films such as Jab Pyar Kisise Hota Hai (1961), Teesri Manzil (1966) and Kati Patang (1970).
Following a series of failures in the 1980s, Parekh turned to directing TV serials in the 1990s. In 1998, she became the chairperson of the Central Board of Film Certification, the first woman to hold that post.
She has also received numerous awards for her work as an actress and director. In 1992, she was honoured with the Padma Shri, India's fourth-highest civilian award.
"Dadasaheb Phalke Selection Jury has decided to recognise and award Asha Parekh for her exemplary lifetime contribution to Indian Cinema," Minister of Information and Broadcasting Anurag Thakur said on Tuesday.
Previous winners of the award, named after the producer-director who made India's first film in 1913, include South Indian superstar Rajinikanth, veteran actor Amitabh Bachchan and actor Vinod Khanna, who was honoured posthumously in 2018.
The National Film Awards will be presented by Droupadi Murmu, who made history in July by becoming India's first president to hail from a tribal community and the second woman to hold the post after Pratibha Patil, who served from 2007 to 2012.