The very first handsome hunk of Bollywood, Dharmendra turned 76 today. Dharmendra Singh Deol was born in the year 1935 in Punjab to an arya samaj jatt family. One of the famous and top Hindi film star for more than three decaedes, he has appeared in more than 247 hindi films as of 2011. Often referred to as the ‘Action King’ Dharmendra was considered as the most handsome actor and a matinee idol.
Dharmendra had fascinations for films since a very young age, he often used to travel miles to frequent the touring cinema. He got noticed in Filmfair’s spot the talent contest and came down to Bombay to be an actor. He was signed by Arjun Hingorani for the film Dil Bhi Tera, Hum Bhi Tere (1960) as his first lead role. The film also starred Balraj Sahni, Usha Kiron and Kum Kum. But to his irony, after all the struggle and hard work he put up on that film, he was left unrecognized on the premiere of the film.
However his strong and romantic roles in women oriented films like Anpadh (1962) with Mala Sinha, Bandini (1963) and Soorat Aur Seerat (1962) both with Nutan bought him to the fore. He made a very strong impact particularly in Bandini.
He has worked in several romantic hindi films in the 60’s. But it was Phool Aur Patthar (1966) that has made Dharmendra a star.
The film Phool Aur Patthar with Meena Kumari is a love story between a criminal and a widow. This film has one of the most sensuous scenes in hindi cinema where Dharmendra leans over a sleeping Meena Kumari only to finally cover her up. This film became the higest grossing film of 1966 and Dharmendra received his first Film-fair nominations for Best Actor. It is said that during this film Dharmendra and Meena Kumari came close to each other and afterwards shared a steamy and romantic relationship.
Most of Dharmendra’s earlier films were soft romantic film most of which represented secularized Hindustani versions of the literally Bengali stereotypes, starting from Bimal Roy’s Bandini upto Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s 60’s socials – Anupama (1966), Manjhli Didi (1967) and Satyakam (1969). Dhramendra mainly played the nice, sensitive, romantic, handsome hero in his films. And for such good looks, he was voted as one of the most good looking men in the world in 1960’s. Satyakam was perhaps his greatest ever performance. This film sadly failed to do well.
Dharmendra has successfully formed good on screen pairing with actresses like Meena Kumari, Saira Banu, Sharmila Tagore, Mumtaz, Asha Parekh, Rekha, Zeenath Aman and Hema Malini. His pairing with Hema Malini went on to further steps in his personal life up to marriage. They formed a super hit pair and delivered some phenomenal hits like, Raja Jani, Seeta Aur Geeta, Sharafat, Tum Haseen Main Jawan, Jugnu, Dost, Charas, Maa, Chacha Bhatija, Azaad and Sholey.
With the emergence of the angry young man and a shift towards the action genre, the 1970’s saw a new Dharmendra who took up the action genre as fish to water. He was the perfect pistol packing hero threatening and knocking down the villains in fight. No one in the industry could shout at the villain, “kutte, kamine main tera khoon pee jaunga” more convincingly than him. Due to his this angry young image he was nicknamed as Garam Dharam in the industry.
One of the best film of his carrier is undoubtedly Sholay, which went on to become one of the biggest hits in the history of Indian cinema and is listed by Indiatimes as one of the “top 25 must see Bollywood films of all time”.
Though Dhramendra has worked in a number successful hindi films for over three decades he was never critically recognized and awarded any Filmfare awards, until 1997 when he received the Filmfaare Lifetime Achievement Award. While receiving the awards from Dilip Kumar and his wife Saira Banu, Dhramendra became emotional remarked that despite working in so many successful films he never received any Best Actor awards, and he is happy that finally his contribution and work has been recognized.
Dharmendra has been an altive politician also. He was elected as the Member of Parliament in the year 2004 general elections, from Bikanerin Rajasthan.
Dharmendra’s personal life has also been very interesting. He had maintained two relationships at the same time. In the year 1954 he got married to Prakash Kaur at the age of 19 only. From that marriage he has two sons Sunny and Bobby both of them are successful actors and two daughters Vijeeta and Ajeeta. His second marriage was with Hema Malini, he was still married to his first wife when he married Hema. According to some reports he converted to Islam and then married Hema. Both of them have two daughters Esha and Ahana. Esha is an actress and Dharmendra is working up to launch Ahana in films soon.