Cine superstar Dharmendra has said that he was emotionally blackmailed to contest the 2004 Lok Sabha elections as the BJP candidate from Bikaner in Rajasthan.
“I was emotionally blackmailed. They got me because I am an emotional human being,” he told Day & Night, a Chandigarh-based satellite news channel, in the course of a free-wheeling interview with its consulting editor and Hindustan Times columnist Khushwant Singh.
“I have a lot of respect for (Atal Behari) Vajpayee jee. I think he is a great human being, a great leader. I told him that I did not want to enter politics. I told him that I had read that politics is a game of scoundrels. But he said how would it be rid of scoundrels if people like you don’t come forward. That appealed to me and I ended up agreeing,” Dharmendra said.
The 77-year-old iconic actor, who is currently shooting around Chandigarh for a Punjabi movie, said that he was so depressed after agreeing to contest the 2004 Lok Sabha election that he abused himself and banged his head against the washroom mirror. “In spite of agreeing, I was very reluctant. Twice, I returned from the airport without boarding the flight.”
Dharmendra, who defeated the Congress candidate, said he has left politics for good and would never return to it, under any circumstances.
On the buzz about his son Sunny Deol contesting the 2014 general election, Dharmendra said, “Not at all. Never. I will give him a thrashing if he does so. Mein ohnu kuttun ga.”
Going down memory lane about his starry-eyed journey from Sahnewal, a sleepy town in Ludhiana, to a blockbuster Bollywood career over half a century, Dharmendra reminisced how the greats of Indian cinema, Bimal Roy and Guru Dutt, had first auditioned and cast him opposite Nutan in Bandini.
He said he had been paid Rs 5,000 for Bandini. “I organised a booze party on the beach for my friends, most of who were struggling to make a life.”
Dharmendra candidly admitted that he had been a drunkard earlier on. “But I did everything openly, not on the sly,” he said. “It worries me when I hear about Punjab’s youth taking to drugs and excessive consumption of liquor. Please don’t fall prey to these things as they ruin lives. Please keep yourselves sane,” he said in an emotional sign-off to the interview that is scheduled to be telecast on Sunday.