Dharmendra was born Dharam Singh Deol on 8 December 1935. He is an acclaimed Bollywood actor and more recently a politician (his wife Hema Malini is a politician as well). He is an MP representing the Bikaner constituency, and he’s a member of the BJP. He was given the Filmfare Lifetime Achievement in 1997, his only major acting award, which seems a bit unfair.
He has four children: Sunny and Bobby with his first wife (both successful actors, Sunny (Dharam's lookalike) moreso than Bobby), Esha and Ahana with Hema Malini. Esha is a moderately successful actress, and apparently her father isn’t thrilled about her choice of career – he once said Bollywood is an unsuitable place for girls. Whatever. Esha calls herself a ‘Daddy’s girl’ – so I guess we have something in common (I’m no fan of hers, so this doesn’t exactly thrill me - props to her on sticking with her career choice though). Dharmendra’s nephew Abhay Deol is also an actor.
Ten Things I’ve Recently Learnt about Dharmendra.
1. Apparently, he’s currently separated from Hema Malini (haven’t confirmed this yet).
2. His first movie was ‘Railway Platform’ (1955). He had a very very small blink-and-you'll-miss-it part.
3. He’s Punjabi – from Phagwara (some sources say Sahnewal - it seems he was born in one and grew up in the other).
4. His first wife was Prakash Kaur. He married her in 1954, and she is Sunny and Bobby’s mother (so I guess that’s who Bobby looks like, huh?)
5. He worked for an American drilling company as a young man.
6. He’s working on developing a hi-tech film city in Jaipur.
7. At the early stage of his career, he was advised by a director to become a hockey player, because he was ‘too muscular’ to be an actor (those were the Shammi Kapoor days). Understandably, he was hurt but not deterred.
8. He was born into a Jat Sikh family but is rumoured to have at some point converted to Islam, changing his name to Dilawar Khan. People have speculated (unconfirmed) that he did this only so he could marry Hema Malini. He’s actually been slapped with a lawsuit as a result of this (marrying a second wife is not permitted under the Hindu Marriage Act) – can’t confirm what the status is on the lawsuit.
9. He’s been criticized for not being a very good politician, and for being absent at house sittings. He admits to not enjoying politics – he enjoyed acting but sees politics as work.
10. Dharmendra’s second marriage to Hema Malini is still the subject of controversy, because there is a perception that it was immoral and unbecoming of a politician and public figure. Dharam hasn’t exactly helped his cause, as he has named Prakash Kaur as his wife on certain documents.
Dharmendra Interview Snippets/Quotes:
'People have learnt the art to hype their movies and their career. They have learnt to project themselves as bigger and bigger stars. And better actors are often left behind, as the others move ahead. It used to be same earlier, but not to this extent. Now there is media to create a lobby. Unfortunately, I am very unfit for all this. I have seen people who have not been in the industry for years, yet they manage to be in the headlines. I am still working here, but I am never mentioned. And neither do I think it necessary to force myself into the limelight.'
I love you just the way you are, Dharam.
'I have been working for nearly 42 years. But in last 5 years, I have worked in films where I did not even know the co-stars or the production unit. I cannot recognize them, even if they try to remind me. This was only because I wanted to face the camera. But we had to make way for the youngsters. We were unfit for the scripts and stories. So I started doing what came my way.'
Aaww… now that’s kinda sad.
'I can sum up my career in a few words. God, or what men call fate, gives few opportunities but man can make the most of it. It is a reward of hard work and dedication, that men call destiny. If you do not believe me you can try it out yourself. Wishes give birth to hope. Successful efforts take on the shape of prayers which have been answered by the heaven.'
Hmm… I wonder if this interview was actually in Hindi, then translated. Because it sounds clunky (‘the heaven?’). But I agree with what he said, very true.
‘I proudly say that I am a product of the media. I would not have become an actor if Filmfare was not there. I owe my success to the media’.
Sucking up or sincerity? Either way, nice.
Two Dharmendra Interviews may be listened to here: