Dharmendra on Apne's success and more

Updated on Sep 28, 2007 06:31 PM IST

At 72, he still wears his heart on his sleeve. Veteran actor Dharmendra gets emotional with Khalid Mohamed as he talks about the warm welcome that Apne has received.

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None | ByKhalid Mohamed, Mumbai

It's just another morning, the same muesli breakfast, the same lukewarm milk, a slice of papaya, the clouds hovering like angry powder puffs outside..till Mr Dharmendra calls. Since I've been a fan of his, ever since I was in my knee pants, the morning changes dramatically.

We're talking - the boy who couldn't get a ticket to a "house full" show of Jeevan Mrityu at the Alankar cinema - and the hero of a 101 and more moneyspinners. I couldn't ever develop biceps up like him (ha, joke!) but I did take to wearing knee-length kurtas after seeing him as the earnest young man who serenades Sharmila Tagore at a piano gathering in Anupama.

Hey but hello, that's another story.. maybe a socio-psycho one about the impact of cinema on the Indian youth. Band bandh kar abhi. Right now..my childhood idol's on the phone, saying in that feelwarm voice of his:

Hello, hello dear..can you hear me?

Yes sir, how's it going? What's the response to Apne overseas?
London and Canada were fantastic. It's almost as if I'm reconnecting with the audience after ages.

Will your production banner – Vijeta Films – get active again?
Dear, you know me. Now that I've got that incentive to work hard, very hard again, things at Vijeta will start happening soon. Filmein banani padengi. What else do we know anyway?

Right now, we're concentrating on the audience reaction to Apne..I've just returned from the Naaz in ‘Frisco. Everyone seemed to be moved and applauded as soon as the film ended. In Bombay, I believe it's picking up. Is it still raining heavily there?

It's subsided a bit. So what's next Dharamji?
Getting positive feedback is as if someone has breathed new life into me. It's like my mother used to say "Son, don't give up till , you've touched the sky". I have a long way to go yet...but yes, two-three films are being planned.

Anil (Sharma) will be making Masters with Sunny Bobby and me again. It's about three con men.. bilkul phitoos. Then there's a script for Sunny and me about two crooks whose dhanda is to fall in love again and again. We're also thinking of a Seven Year Itch kind of movie..you've seen it?

Yes, yes.
But here the man gets a 40-year-itch (chuckles).

(Chuckles) What were you doing in Metro.. getting so close to Nafisa Ali?
Why dear, didn't you like the film?

I certainly did not like your

Kis Kiski Kismat

with Mallika Sherawat.

(Laughs) Why are you reminding me of that? I was just missing the camera..so

kar diya. Bhool jaao usko,


Done. What's your role like in Johnny Gaddar?

It's a strong character, not very lengthy. It's a cautionary story for youngsters who go wrong.

Okay. In terms of the length, weren't you partial to Bobby over Sunny? Is Bobby your



No, no, nothing like that. Whatever length the three of us have got was required by the script. Both of them are equally precious.. I love so many outsiders..so you can imagine how much I love them.

Don't you think


is excessively lengthy?

Yes, it could have been crisper..but there was so much to say about family sentiments that we couldn't cut anything. Maybe a couple of the montage scenes could have gone.. but that is the director's call as you people say now-a-days. The overall reaction has been tremendous.

On another note, what do you think about the constant criticism of your performance as the Bikaner MP?

(Hurt) Even you're asking me this? Do I really have to prove the things that I have done for Bikaner? Maybe I'll just have to publish a book with photographs as proof of the work I've done there.

I'm not hungry for manipulated wah wahs. I have never believed in thrusting myself..saying I've done this and that. If I'd wanted to do that, I would never have allowed anyone to take any headlines away from me. I want to be in the dils of the people, not in the headlines.

Will you contest the elections the next time around?
I may nor may not. Frankly I hate to be in politics. But if I'm given a responsibility I will not shirk it. Dharmendra has done enough for his ilaaka. In the last 50 years, no one else has.

I'd rather be an insaan than a devta. But you know what? Just a single line can make a difference to me. If someone writes Do it again for me after seeing Apne, dear I will.. again and again.

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