Dharmendra admits that for his 75th birthday he has made no special plans. “We’ll have a ‘havan’ but my elder brother, who orchestrated the celebrations, is gone and birthdays will never be the same again,” he sighs.
The gloom lifts as we shift gears to his forthcoming film, Yamla Pagla Deewana, that brings him back with his sons, Sunny and Bobby. “After Apne, I was getting dull, missing the camera. Now I’m lively and spiritually strong again,” he beams.In the film, Bobby spoofs the famous Sholay scene, climbing up a tank and threatening to commit suicide unless he gets his girl, only to have Sunny point out that these tactics don’t work anymore. "For a fraction of a second, I thought we were back in the Sholay days," smiles Dharmendra, admitting that he never had to do so much mehnat (hard work) to woo a girl. "Infatuation comes like a hawa ka jhonka (whiff of air), when things have to happen, they just do."
Bobby says that when writer-director Sameer Karnik first suggested the spoof, he was like, “Dude, I can’t do it!” On the day of the shoot, Film City was crowded. “I looked down to see a sea of faces. That only added to my nervousness but the scene came out well,” he reminisces.
His dad says it would be great to do another film with Jai (Amitabh Bachchan). He’s waiting for a good script and in the meanwhile, will be on KBC 4 this Thursday, putting Bachchan on the hot seat.
“For others, he is Amitabh Bachchan; for me, he’s Amit, my chhota bhai (younger brother),” Dharmendra smiles.
He will also be on Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa on Sunday, introducing boxer Akhil Kumar. “Had I not been an actor, I would have been an athlete and tried to win gold medals for the country. So it was a pleasure introducing Akhil, a CWG gold medallist with his own style,” he reasons.
Son Sunny, who has worked with Dharmendra earlier in Sunny (1984), Saveray Wali Gaadi (1986), Sultanat (1986), Kshatriya (1993) and Apne (2007), says that the equation hasn’t changed at home. “We respect him too much to ever cross the ‘lakshman rekha’. He can never be a friend, so it was enjoyable doing a film like Yamla Pagla Deewana, where you could do things unthinkable in real life,” Sunny chuckles, pointing out that in 50 years, there’s been only one Dharmendra: “He’s the handsomest Jat I know.”
Dad pays back the compliment adding, be it Border (1997) or Yamla Pagla Deewana, there has never been a better-
looking sardar on screen.
This is Dharmendra’s 50th year in the movies and actor Rajnikanth is toasting his golden run by presenting him with a special lifetime achievement award. “Rajnikanth is a genuine guy. So when his wife Lata and he requested me to accept this award, I happily agreed. It’s a big honour,” says the veteran actor. “I never thought I would last this long. But despite my bouts with drinks, God has been extra kind. I’m on my feet and in front of the camera, I feel blessed!”