Though she had starred in a handful of quick films, it was only her debut opposite the newcomer Salman Khan that went on to be a Box Office slayer.
Such was the magnitude of Maine Pyar Kiya’s success that Bhagyashree remains fresh in the memory of Bollywood lovers across generations.
With Maine Pyar Kiya, the debutant actress had turned into a superstar of sorts, overnight. Every critic and movie buff was taken by her raw beauty, innocent smile, and natural acting chops. The popularity of the 1989 film leaped over to the early 90s also and audiences were yearning to see more. Filmmakers knew her appeal and had lined up at her door to sign her up.
Bhagyashree hadn’t anticipated this enormous stardom, nor was she hoping for it. Instead, 19-year-old was head-over-heels in love with her childhood sweetheart. She had known Himalaya all through school, and when he opened his heart out on the last day of school, she reciprocated his feelings. He went to pursue higher studies in the US. Meanwhile, Bhagyashree had signed Sooraj Barjatya’s movie, but not before seeking the nod of Himalaya’s parents.
Despite the perfect success and a dream-like love-story of her own, she couldn’t gain the blessings of her parents when it came to her love life and subsequent marriage. She married Himalaya in a small temple ceremony attended by co-star Salman Khan and director Sooraj Barjatya. The couple was blessed with their first child in 1990.
Box-office success didn’t overwhelm Bhagyashree because her husband was central to her vision. She was almost prepared to leave Bollywood, had turned down many movie offers but the queue of filmmakers desperate to sign her was rather long. One could count it as exploiting the opportunity more than seizing it, but her ask was borderline outrageous.
“Sign my husband if you want me”
The newlywed fan-favorite laid down one peculiar condition in front of the filmmakers that approached her with scripts. Her leading man would be her real-life husband, Himalaya Dassani. Himalaya had returned to Mumbai after completing his academics abroad, had no acting background, and wasn’t even nurturing any filmy aspirations. But his star wife’s status and demand landed him among the Salman Khans, Aamir Khans and Akshay Kumars of the early 90s.
While gifted youngsters with impassioned dialogue delivery, astute dancing, and convincing expressions wear their soles out to get an appointment with a producer, here was Himalaya Dassani who bagged three movies in a blink of an eye.
Bhagyashree returned to the silver screen in 1992 with three releases: Qaid Mein Hai Bulbul, Tyagi, and Paayal. Far from re-creating the magic of Maine Pyar Kiya, these movies were box-office disasters. Himalaya was not a star-material, he lacked acting abilities, had no screen presence. He was practically forced on filmmakers caught in the aura of Bhagyashree. Realising that she could only force a producer to cast her husband, the audience’s love needs to be earned through sheer talent, Bhagyashree decided to quit the industry.
However, though she claims to have given up on a flourishing Bollywood career in favour of being a homemaker, Bhagyashree hasn’t been totally away from the camera. Since 1997, she has worked in Bengali, Bhojpuri, Telugu, and Kannada films in India, and had appeared in a Bangladeshi film, Satru Dhwangsa as well. Thankfully this time she didn’t levy the condition.
Here comes the Son
In 2019, her son Abhimanyu Dassani made his Bollywood debut with RSVP’s Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota. Collecting 2 crores against a budget of 12, the action-comedy proved to be a Box-office tragedy.
Abhimanyu Dassani managed to bag the Filmfare award for the Best Male Debut, anyway. Are we even surprised?
PS: Rumour has it; Salman Khan might arrange a grand launch for her daughter Avantika Dassani under his banner.