While many Bollywood actors, who are still in their forties, are already undergoing multiple surgeries to recuperate from the injuries they have suffered while shooting, veteran actor Dharmendra is still going strong. Popularly known as the He-Man of Bollywood, the actor is still keeping fit and performing daring stunts at the age of 77. Dharmendra, who has performed several action scenes in his films earlier, will be once again seen in his action avatar for his next, Yamla Pagla Deewana 2 (YPD 2).
The actor had to swing by a rope and jump from a height of 40 feet for a stunt in this film. “Given his age, Dharmendra is still very fit. He has a masculine physique and can pull off action stunts even today. The scene is a part of the climax of YPD 2. With this scene, I can say that many people will once again see the He-Man of Bollywood in action,” says Sangeeth Sivan, the director of the film.
Sangeeth also says that the actor was very excited to perform the stunt on his own. “Dharmendra does all his scenes with full sincerity and gets excited about them as if he is working in his first film. He gave his best for the action scene and dedicated an entire day to performing the stunt. I feel privileged to work with a legend like him,” says the director.
In a career spanning over 50 years, Dharmendra has stared in over 280 films. As he looks forward to his upcoming film, Yamla Pagla Deewana 2, which releases next week, the veteran actor talks about the changes he has seen in the industry over the decades.
We’ve learnt that the extensive promotions of the film are taking a toll on your health. Do you think that marketing has become more important than the content of any film?
These days, if there is no promotion, people get the impression that the film is not good. People watch the film only if there is publicity. When I came to the industry, it (filmmaking) was a show business. Now, it has turned out to be a show off business. The more you show off, the more people like it. I don’t like it but I am doing it. I am in love with the industry so I will do whatever is required.
Why did you keep yourself away from films all this while?
I didn’t step back. The industry pushed me away. I wanted to be there. But a new crop of young actors came up and the younger characters were given more importance. At my age, I was not getting the roles I was looking for. So I had to keep myself away from the industry. When I came back with (Life in a) Metro (2007) and Johnny Gaddar (2007), people welcomed me with open arms. I could feel that they were missing me all the time that I was away.
A lot of filmmakers are remaking old hits. Which ones of your films do you think could be remade?
Satyakam (1969) is one film that could be remade today. Hrishida (Hrishikesh Mukherjee) had made it wonderfully. It carried a modern thought and with a few changes here and there, we can remake it. Even Chupke Chupke (1975) could be remade. Whenever it’s on TV, I sit down to watch it and remember the old times.
Sholay is being remade in 3D. Do you think it would retain its original charm?
I’ve seen portion of the film and it has turned out very well. The colours and the sound, such as the trotting of the horses and the sound of the bullets have come out wonderfully. I think people will love the film.
Your grandson Karan (Sunny Deol’s son) is set to make his debut. How do you see him as an actor?
He is quite good. But he has to work hard to make a mark in the industry. Sunny (Deol) and I are there to guide him, but everything will depend on him first. We are planning to launch him with a film that has a good script in a year or a year-and-a-half from now.