A small-town boy from Sahnewal, district Ludhiana, gets selected through the All India Filmfare talent contest in 1957, leaves home in 1958 to explore the mysterious world of cinema in Mumbai, and the rest becomes history. For the 100 years of Indian cinema’s inception, Dharmendra has been a charming contributor for 52.
Touted as the ‘Greek God’ and James Dean of Bollywood, the ‘forever young’ hero takes us down the memory lane during his recent visit to Chandigarh. “Today Indian cinema has completed 100 years; I feel happy to be a part of it for more than half a century. I started with films like Shola Aur Shabnam (1961) and moved on to Bandhan (1969), Sholay (1975), Charas (1976), Chupke Chupke and Pratigya (1975), among others,” says he, and about his most loved co-actor, adds, “Suchitra Sen ji mujhe boht pyaari lagti thi. Unke saath kaam karna accha lagta tha.” The two came together for 1966 movie, Mamta.
About the remake of one of his career’s high-fliers, Sholay, and he says, “Sholay cannot be remade. In fact, my 1966 film, Phool Aur Patthar used to yesteryears’ Sholay. How can you attain the same charm and beauty on screen again?”
“But, even in today’s era, when young actors are getting experimental and making a name for themselves in the industry, I feel lucky to still be able to contribute to Indian cinema.”
In Chandigarh to shoot for director Smeep Kang’s Double Di Trouble — in which Dharmendra plays the role of Gippy Grewal’s father — he has a lot to say about Punjabi film industry: “It is not that I haven’t been a part of Punjabi films in the past; they have just been guest roles. This is the first time I would be doing a full-fledged role. Basically, Smeep and I make a good team.”
Expressing disappointment over the sad state of new cinema in Punjab, he adds, “I am happy to see Punjabi cinema progressing, but it is sad to see the quality of scripts these days. I think it’s time filmmakers start being selective, instead of being a part of the rate race.”
Dharmendra in a scene with Nutan from the movie Bandini (1963). HT Photo
He adds that we would be doing more Hindi films with his sons, Sunny and Bobby.
Famous for his ‘Dharm-endra dance’, Garam Dharam leaves us with a song, “Hum off-beat hain, jaan gaye, hum dancer nahi hain, maan gaye. Jo bolna hai bolo, no fikar!”