Dharmendra was born on December 8, 1935 at Phagwara in Punjab. He remained a top Hindi film star for three decades creating an influential image as a markedly north Indian (Punjabi) macho man devoted to his mother and committed to upholding the honour of his family or the village.
He was born Dharam Singh Deol and was fascinated with films right from childhood, often travelling miles to frequent the touring cinema. He saw Dillagi (1949) starring Suraiya at least 40 times. He was married at the age of 19 and took up a job with an American drilling company boring tubewells. Fortunately for him, he was noticed in a Filmfare spot-the-talent contest and came to Mummbai to become an actor.
He was signed by Arjun Hingorani for Dil Bhi Tera, Hum Bhi Tere (1960), his first film as hero for Rs 51 as signing amount and a daily breakfast that was to contain strictly of tea, two toasts and butter but no jam! Ironically, after the entire struggle he went unrecognised at the premiere of the film and sneaked back home on a train.
However strong, supporting romantic lead roles in women oriented films like Anpadh (1962) with Mala Sinha, Bandini (1963) and Soorat Aur Seerat (1963), both with Nutan brought Dharmendra to the fore. A liaison with Meena Kumari saw the two of them starring together in a series of films.
The actor's entry into Bharatiya Janata Party was preceded by his wife, Hema Malini, joining the party. She is a member of the Rajya Sabha and recently joined the party. He is contesting from the Bikaner parliamentary constituency in Rajasthan on BJP ticket. Bikaner has a substantial Jat population, to which Dharmendra belongs.