Exclusive: When a drunk Dharmendra landed up at Hema Malini and Jeetendra’s wedding
Truth was, Hema was intensely in love with Dharmendra by then, as was he with her. When Jaya got a whiff of the situation, not surprisingly, she raised hell, but this time she held no sway. For the first time in her life, Hema kept the relationship a secret from her parents and did everything she could to keep meeting him. Once, to the horror and utter disbelief of her family, she disappeared for an entire day. When she came back, they were too relieved to rebuke her, but Jaya increased her watch over them. The couple had little choice but to restrict their meetings to film sets, which was often enough, since they were doing so many movies together by then. It was about now that Jaya felt that getting Hema married seemed the only way out of the situation. She didn’t need to look too far. At the time, Hema was working with Jeetendra on two films – Dulhan (1974) and Khushboo (1975) – and it was obvious that the two got along famously. Jeetendra also had a soft corner for Hema and had been pursuing her for a while. When Hema consistently showed disinterest, he finally made peace and the two settled on becoming good friends.
Over the years, Hema and Jeetendra grew to become each other’s confidantes. Hema, in fact, was one of the few who had known about his affair with Mumtaz. But although theirs was a platonic friendship, Dharmendra was never happy about it. It is believed that he had always been suspicious of Jeetendra, and being the possessive lover he was, he once went as far as to storm on to the sets of a Hema– Jeetendra production and drag Hema into the makeup room in a rage, while the latter stood dumbfounded. Meanwhile, Jaya kept working on her plans. Every day was spent convincing her daughter to marry Jeetendra. She managed to coax Hema to meet his parents, and once Hema did, things started spiralling. Jeetendra’s family was ecstatic – they could hardly wait for the alliance. A close friend of Jeetendra’s remembers him saying, ‘I don’t want to marry Hema. I am not in love with her. She is not in love with me. But my family wants it, so I might as well. And she is such a good girl.’
For all practical purposes, it was to be a marriage of convenience. It had to be quick – before either party changed its mind – and it had to be a clandestine affair, so that no ‘untoward trouble’ could take place. Hema, Jeetendra and their families had flown to Madras and the wedding was supposed to happen there. But an evening daily got a whiff of the sensational news and their next issue carried the ‘big story’. It left much of the industry in a state of disbelief but more importantly, it gave Dharmendra a jolt he was clearly unprepared for. Recovering his wits quickly, he rushed to Shobha Sippy’s house – then Jeetendra’s airhostess girlfriend – and the two took the next flight to Madras to take matters into their hands.
When they reached Hema’s house in Madras, the scene, ironically, was no less dramatic than a blockbuster. Hema’s father couldn’t contain his rage and almost physically pushed Dharmendra out of the house. ‘Why don’t you get out of my daughter’s life? You are a married man, you can’t marry my daughter,’ he repeatedly yelled. But a pleading, helplessly sentimental and slightly inebriated Dharam could not be budged. Finally, they agreed to let him talk to Hema alone in a room, while everybody else – Hema’s parents, Jeetendra’s parents and the registrar of the marriage bureau – waited outside on tenterhooks.
Inside the room, the two were going through an emotional turmoil of catastrophic proportions. Dharmendra, distraught and on the verge of falling to pieces, kept begging Hema not to make such a ‘big mistake’. Outside, it was Shobha’s turn to give vent to her rage. When a nonchalant Jeetendra announced to Shobha his decision to marry Hema, apparently all hell broke loose.
When Hema finally came out of the room – puffy-eyed and visibly shaken – her voice quivered as she asked everyone if they could wait for a few days. Jeetendra and his parents, livid by now, declared that that was not an option. The marriage had to happen now or never. As everyone waited desperately for an answer, Hema quietly shook her head. The insult was far too much for Jeetendra and he stormed out of the house with his parents.
This is excerpted from Hema Malini: Beyond The Dream Girl, authored by Ram Kamal Mukherjee. The book published by HarperCollins releases October 16.
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