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Man of Heart

He may have the image of an iron man of the days gone by, but Dharmendra is all about emotions. And as garam-Dharam celebrated his 73rd birthday yesterday, he got chatty with Khalid Mohamed about the past and the present.

entertainment Updated: Dec 09, 2008 20:58 IST
Khalid Mohamed

You feel 73 and going on..?


Ha, 37 maybe. It seems just like yesterday that I came here as a struggler. Bauji, my father, wanted me to become a professor but once I saw

Shaheed

, I wanted to be like Dilip Kumar.



I was captivated by Suraiya, Meena Kumari and Madhubala. I wanted to be in this world of apsaras.



Since you were classically good-looking, many girls must have chased you...?

(Shyly)

Nahin

, I would chase them,

marta tha main un pe

. There was a girl who’d drive past every day on a tonga in Phagwara, we’d exchange little love notes. I didn’t have the

himmat

to talk to her. By the time I could, she married and settled down in Hyderabad.



Your transition from black-and-white hits is well-chronicled. But tell me, how did you adapt to the film industry?


I thought it would be like a club with actors playing badminton and everyone showering affection on each other. So, I was shocked. Sweet things are said only in front of your face and that too, only when you’re successful. Today, I’d like to think everyone loves me... they do actually... but I don’t depend on anyone.



It’s believed that you were often not paid by your producers.

That’s because I’m a third class businessman. Our Vijayeta Films produced successes like Betaab, Barsaat and Ghayal but we never got an overflow.



What about the plans to revive the banner big time?


I’ve started going to office. We suffered losses in crores because of

Dillagi, Bhagat Singh

and

Socha Na Tha

. Sunny was enthusiastic, his generosity was misused. We’ll be back in a big way with

The Man

which is Sunny’s project and Cheers with Bobby and myself.



What would you say about the careers of Bobby and Sunny at this stage?


Dono emotional bache hain. They shouldn’t be shrewd but should at least understand the meaning of the word.



Why did you take on some B and C-grade projects around the mid-’90s?


Darling, don’t remind me of that. I needed the money. I don’t even remember the films’ names or their directors’.



Will we ever see the Dharmendra-Hema Malini magic again?


(Blushing) There can’t ever be a beautiful woman, beautiful actress and beautiful human being as her. It’s my

badkismati

that we haven’t had the

kismat

to act together since

Aatank

. We had done 42 films. Perhaps we will act together some day,

inshallah

.



Will you ever stop being swayed by your emotions?


Too late. I’ve been such an emotional fool that I’ve even blown other people’s trumpets. I’ve been emotional enough to keep my first car, a Fiat... because of the fear that if I have nothing some day, I can convert it into a taxi!



And will you ever contest for the elections again?

(Pulls at his ear lobes)

Kaan pakde, kabhi nahin,

never.