Friday, December 08, 2006


The basics

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:



Uzo said...

You do know this is an obsession right? But i learnt something new. Didnt know he was Bobby Deol's dad. I kind of like him....

Daddy's Girl said...

LOL at my obsession... it's fun, although (shhh) it's kinda waning now... I might have to change the name of this blog... I kinda like Bobby too although I find him annoying sometimes.

Ajj Kaim Singh said...

Dharmendra is a Sikh by faith. Dharmendra is from Sahnewal in Punjab, which is about 60 miles away from Phagwara. But I think he was born in phagwara though lived in Sahnewal during his youth.
He sure is an awesome actor.

Daddy's Girl said...

Hey, psv, thanks for stopping by, and thanks for the clarification on where Dharmendra is from.
Also, thanks for letting me know that he is Sikh.
You seem really knowledgeable about this, so please could you give me some more insight on the whole issue of him converting to Islam at one time, so as to marry a second wife etc.
I've been looking for more info on the net, but no luck yet. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Hey Guys,

Does anyone know about Dharmender's real brother who was also in Punjabi movies?. Also Dharmender was born in Sahnewal (which is in Ludhiana District, Punjab) on Dec 8, 1935. He is a Jat Sikh

Daddy's Girl said...

Thanks Sameer! I've updated my post to reflect Dharmendra's Sikh heritage, which another commenter had raised previously. There seem to be conflicting reports regarding where he was born/grew up... This is actually the first I've ever heard of Dharam's acting brother... actually I know nothing about his parents or siblings... definitely something to try and find out more about.

Anonymous said...

I don't like the fact that he has two wives. Hema Malini is a mistress and esha is an illegitimate child.

Anonymous said...

Hey Daddy's Girl!
Nice blog on Dharam-ji :)
But, i am kinda confused... u a nigerian female, with so much interest on Dharam-ji??? u hv ur roots in india - don't u?

Daddy's Girl said...

@Anon: Thanks for expressing your views. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion.

@Sam: Thanks very much... I have no Indian roots whatsoever, but I do have an abiding interest in the country and its cinema.

Anonymous said...

Hi guys jst lookin at the blog and thought as a die-hard Dharmendra fan ill put some of my insight. My grandfather and father both met the guy and we have all been fans of his. He was in fact born in Phagwara in a little village, but moved to Sahniwal with his cousin (future actor in panjabi movies; Veerendra), this is for education purposes. His real brother Ajit Singh Deol was not a star but was still featured in certain films (alongside Bobby Deol in his 1st film on the train scene is an example).
Yes he is a Sikh (Jatt descendant) and has also refused allegations of converting to Islam saying 'I would never give up my faith, I love it dearly and always will do'. This allegation was thrown at him since stepping into the political limelight and obviously you have powerful enemies there... I'll let you all make your own mind, but bear in mind India is the world's biggest democracy at the moment... He did get a second marraige to starlett Hema Malini but later got a divorce whn the government told him he could only have one.
Dharmendra (after education) went on to work for an American drilling company and came across a FilmFare talent competition, he snuck away from home telling his mother but not his father and went to compete. Nargis and Sunil Dutt chose him from all the other candidates and he was signed for his 1st film for 50rupees. 'Dil Bhi Tera Hum Bhi Tera' (1960). His first success was 'Phool aur Patthar' (1965) and was declared the he-man of Indian cinema, known for his rigorous exercising and physique that only his contemporaries could dream of.
He also helped Amitabh Bachchan get the role of Jai in 'Sholay', helped him get his breakthrough film 'Zanjeer' (the role was originally given to Dharmendra) and also helped him in his financial dispair in the 80s.
Dharmendra is a huge hit all over the world particularly places like UK, Kenya, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Canada, USA and australia.

Anonymous said...

oh p.s. (lol) Abhay Deol is Ajit Singh's son (Dharmendra's brother). I have been to his house and him and his brother along with the children (Sunny, Bobby and Ajay) all live in one house. Hema Malini lives opposite Dharmendra's mansion and Amitabh Bachchan lives 5-6 houses down on same street.
And daddy's little girl i am impressed u r the first girl i met who knows the fact that his first film cameo was 'Railway Platform' (1955) which starred Sunil Dutt. Dharmendra was also fan of Dilip Kumar who's sister was his make-up artist during the filmfare competition and (after much persuasion from Dharam) she arranged a dinner for them both.

Daddy's Girl said...

mani singh, I am so delighted to read your comments, I've learnt so much about my favourite actor from your words - thank you so much for sharing!

I was in Mumbai last year and tried to find Dharmendra's house (just to catch a glimpse of it), but our driver couldn't find it - it's interesting that it's close to the Bachchan mansion because I actually saw Amit ji's house! So near yet so far...

Thanks again for sharing your knowledge.

Shashi said...

I've seen it mentioned in quite a few places that he debuted with "Railway Platform" (1955). Is there any screen cap from the movie showing him? I really want to see him as a 20-year old.

I think it may have made him more serious about pursuing a career in Bollywood. He participated in the Filmfare contest in 1958, so he may have been persuading his father to let him go in these three years.

Anonymous said...

its quite disappointing to see some very unfavourable remarks about dharmndra's marriage to hema malini.. they have already 2 girls to be so upset this long.. if they werent happy together then it would be ok to give statements that would have either hurt them or hurt them not.. they are simply human beings who happened to be so in love and just couldnt find a way out with their feelings for each other.. I feel so sorry for them..

Anonymous said...

Im still vague about dharmendra's decision to enter the film industry.. he was obsessed with the films or he wanted some involvement with some actresses.. to me he looked girl-crazed :)but of course after meeting hema malini he just lost his cool and control.. and hooked forever :)

Daddy's Girl said...

Shashi, my apologies, I missed your comment initially, but just in case you ever get to see this, I haven't come across any 'Railway Platform' screencaps with Dharmendra, although Old is Gold has a very interesting review of the movie here:, with lots of info about Dharmendra in the comments section of the review. There's also a great review of 'Dil Bhi Tera, Hum Bhi Tere' with pictures of an adorably young Dharmendra here:

Anonymous: Love your comments. I agree with you that the strength of people's negative opinion about Dharmendra's second marriage (after so many years) is very surprising. Perhaps it's because I'm from a different culture, but I don't view it as that scandalous. And the idea of a girl-crazy Dharmendra getting into films to meet actresses is amusing, and could very well be true! I do think he may have been drawn to the 'glamour' of the industry. Of course, coming from a small town and what seems to be relative poverty, maybe he was also drawn to the idea of financial independence. Fortunately for him (unlike many others like him), the decision paid off in the end.