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The evergreen hero

Rakesh Kumar |

Actor Dharmendra doesn’t need any formal introduction. The legend of Bollywood has spent more than 50 years in cinema industry with more than 250 films and several awards in his kitty. He is known by several synonyms in Bollywood ~ He Man of Bollywood, Garam Dharam, Veeru, Yamala Jaat and many more. Even at the age of 81, he looks as romantic and fresh as he was in Dream Girl, as flirty and jovial as in Sholay or as rough and tough as he was in the movie Dharam Veer and a comedian as he was in Chupke Chupke.

The actor debuted in an international film — Dream Catcher, a short film project in collaboration with Australia based producers Rishi Raj Films and Kinopticon Productions. Directed by Santoshh Shivamm, the film is a love story centred on three leading protagonist featuring Miss Fiji World Pooja Priyanka and popular Hollywood actor Travis Jeffery along with Dharmendra. In a conversation with The Statesman the actor revealed facets of not just his films but much more. Excerpts:

Q You have spent more than 50 years in Bollywood.Why did you take so much time to come up with an English film?

I never count years in my life and never think I am perfect. I am here to learn. The day I think I have learnt everything I will lie (down) forever. Work is worship for me, whether it is film set or my farm.

Q What is the film, Dream Catcher, about and what is your character in it?

I won’t tell the whole story, but the film is based on technology. With this film we will highlight how growing influence of technology has been ruining our generation and distancing our kids from their parents. In this movie, I will be playing the role of a father, who has to deal with his technology-freak daughter.

Q Most of the shooting was done in Delhi, which is in the news because of soaring temperatures.How challenging was it to shoot the movie in this heat?

I have been working like this for the last 50 or 60 years. I tell you it was 47 degree temperature when I did a film in Rajasthan and rode horses. I had sung a song on snow water.

Q You started your career in Bollywood, then your sons Sunny and Bobby Deol joined and now it’s your third generation, Karan Deol. How do you describe this journey because after the Kapoor family it’s your family now?

It is the love of people. You know I am a big fan of Prithviraj Kapoor. When I saw his Sikander, I tried to do the same scene in Dharam Veer. I saw his son Raj Kapoor and Shammi Kapoor joining the industry. Of course, it is the dream of every father that his son carry forward his legacy. Similarly, it was also my dream. I believe destiny must have written something good for my grandson too. The audience loved me and Sunny. I believe our love will pass to Karan Deol as well. Overall my journey in the film industry is good and the audience loves me. I have given good films, from action to comedy: Chupke Chupke and Pratigya. Not only this, I gave a new style of dance to the film industry. I used to dance so weirdly that even I could not repeat my own dance style!

Q Your friend as well as co-star in many films, Vinod Khanna, passed away recently. Would you like to share any memory with him?

He was a good friend of mine. We worked together in Mera Gaon Mera Desh and he worked so well that he outshone me. I tell you one interesting thing, in the whole industry at that time we were only two actors, who used to do our stunts ourselves. We never used any duplicates. Whenever we had any fight scene, it was like a real fight.

Q What about Delhi? Any memory you cherish?

Delhi has a special place for me. Earlier, I used to come to Kashmiri Gate and watch many movies in cinema halls. There was a garden too, where I would do pushups. I still remember Jagat Cinema in Jama Masjid, where I watched Badal.

Q You have been quite fit since the beginning. What prompted you to be so conscious about health?

I was born into a farmer family. Like any son of farmer, I have done everything — farming, jumped from trees into local ponds, reared cattle and what not. You know, when I was quite busy with film shooting, I used to look at farms around the shooting place. Even now in my farm houses, I have 20 buffaloes, ducks and hens.

I had been daring since childhood. In one film along with another actor, I had to jump from an 18-ft wall. Upon reaching there, the other actor refused to do so. But I did it myself. While riding horses, I would ask the director to shoot with a high speed camera so that people should know it is me.

Q You joined politics too but not that actively?

Go to Bikaner, check it out. I have done so many things there. There are lakes, roads and railway zones. The centre of the city had a major problem for a long time and it was ruining the city badly and made people migrate. I solved that problem. As I have never bragged about myself as an actor, the same goes for being a politician.