He is known as Bollywood’s ‘Yamla, Pagla, Deewana’ (Lovable, Crazy and Mad), but for a long he was also seen as the macho hero of silver screen.
Veteran actor Dharmendra says that he’s completed over five decades in the movie business but it went by in mere moments. Ek lamba safar lamhun mein guzar gaya [A long journey passed by in moments]. I now think why it went by so soon. I miss my colleagues, the atmosphere. I miss so many things. It was a beautiful journey, said Dharmendra.
The 81-year-old, who traces his roots to Punjab, debuted in Bollywood in 1960 with Dil Bhi Tera Hum Bhi Tere, going on to create an image of Bollywood’s He-Man
Dharmendra has entertained audiences with movies of all genres — from the intense Bandini and Satyakam, to potboilers such as Raja Jani and Pratigya, and as a comic artist with perfect timing in Sholay and Chupke Chupke.
He proved his skills as an actor with Anupama and Yakeen. In recent times, he was seen in Life In A Metro, Apne and Yamla, Pagla, Deewana.
Dharmendra is known for his simplicity, humbleness and staying connected to his roots. The actor says he doesn’t believe in being a superstar but a super-human being.
He has infused these qualities in his sons — actors Sunny Deol and Bobby Deol — and says that they are taking it forward by teaching the same to the next generation. Fame and glamour don’t remain. Being humble and grounded is what will remain. People will say nice things about you. It is not a thought-out action and comes automatically. It came to me from my parents, from me it has gone to Sunny and Bobby, he says. Stressing on your achievements or other things hold no meaning.
Dharmendra has worked with his wife and Bollywood’s ‘Dream Girl’ Hema Malini in films such as Seeta Aur Geeta, Sholay and Dream Girl. Post marriage, the couple was seen in movies like Alibaba aur 40 Chor, Baghavat, Samraat and Razia Sultan.
He is averse to the idea of a biopic on his life, but turns to Urdu poetry to reflect on his journey and life. The 81-year-old said: I’m an emotional person, so this [poetry]is a good outlet for me. Jab kuch kaha na jae, jab kuch suna na jae, tab meri tanhai meri khamoshi se, aur khamoshi meri tanhai se baatein kar leti hai [When nothing can be said or heard, my silence and my loneliness converse with each other].
The actor, who is looking forward to his grandson Karan Deol’s Bollywood debut with Pal Pal Dil Ke Paas, is content with the love and admiration he gets from his fans. What’s the benefit of writing a book on your life? I don’t want to reach out that much to people. I have reached enough. I have touched their hearts. I live in their hearts, not in their brains, he said.
Asked who can be the next Bollywood’s Yamla, Pagla, Deewana, he said, Only Dharmendra can be yamla, pagala and deewana at the same time.
On the work front, he is working on his first international short film, Dream Catcher, and will reunite with his sons for the third instalment of Yamla Pagla Deewana film franchise. The actor has never starred with his daughter Esha Deol (from his marriage with Malini) in a film.