Looking at Bollywood’s very own ‘He-Man’

Written by Omair Alavi

Omair Alavi|Instep|December 6, 2020

Book: Dharmendra – A Biography by Rajiv Vijayakar

The Indian film industry has produced a number of actors but there has been only one Dharmendra. Also known as the He-Man of Bollywood, Dharmendra will be celebrating his 85th Birthday on 8th December and there is no better time than this to go down memory lane through Dharmendra – A Biography by Rajiv Vijayakar and find out what made the most original actor in Bollywood a legend in his lifetime.

The author has penned this biography with Dharmendra’s approval; not only has he ensured that readers get all highlights from the actor’s sixty-year-old film career, he has written about his highs, lows, breaks and comebacks. From being a simple villager to a Bollywood actor with a heart of gold, Dharmendra has gone from strength to strength during his career, and this book allows you to understand how he has been able to stay relevant for six decades.

From using lines from Dharmendra’s hit songs to begin the chapters, to tackling every hit or flop film in his career, this book takes the reader back to the earliest days of Dharmendra, who wanted to become an actor after watching a Dilip Kumar film and left his village with his mother’s blessings and against his father’s wishes. It delves into how he got selected in the first-ever Filmfare talent hunt, who were his earliest struggling friends in the industry, and how he managed to keep his early marriage a secret from the press…it’s all explained in these pages.

You’ll be surprised to find out that it was his second innings that saw him succeed in Bollywood, the first one ended with him returning to his village without doing anything worthwhile. This book doesn’t talk much about Dharmendra’s off-screen life; there is no mention of his exploits as a Member of Parliament because no one wants to read about that. His name was attached with two actresses – Meena Kumari and Hema Malini – and both these affairs are mentioned here with his approval, but not with his comments. Strange, but acceptable since he married one of the actresses whereas the other one died early.

And then there is the film-by-film discussion from the author that comes across as a friend talking about films in chronological order. Anecdotes from those days as well as some backstories about these movies make the first part of the book all the more interesting; the second and third parts are more about Dharmendra’s unreleased films, his family life, his inability to dance, his new-found passion to pen poetry and what his friends thought of him, among other things, that will surprise even his most ardent fans.

Thanks to the many memorable images from his films, this book comes out as a complete guide to Dharmendra’s career as an actor and producer who very nearly directed a film. The books tells you everything about Dharmu easily being the most loveable actor in Bollywood, which current actor he believes is closest to him in every way and how he was able to co-exist as a leading man in the same universe as his eldest son Sunny Deol. You will also find out that he was chased out of Dilip Kumar’s house the first time he went there and was behind the many delays on the outdoor shoot of Sholay.

8 things you don’t know about Dharmendra

* Dharmendra never worked with Gulzar the director; their Devdas also featuring Hema Malini was shelved in the 1980s

* It was Dharmendra who put in a good word for an unknown Amitabh Bach-chan in Sholay

* Dharmendra wanted to become an actor so that he could own a Fiat and a flat!

* He is one of the few veteran actors to have never won a Filmfare Award for Best Actor

* He delivered as many as 7 hits in 1987, co-existing with his son Sunny as a leading man

* More than half of the songs filmed on Dharm-endra were sung by Mohammad Rafi

* Salim – Javed wrote Zanjeer with Dharm-endra in mind; it turned out to be a role that launched Amitabh Bach-chan’s career

* He didn’t speak to his daughter Esha for six months after she made her film debut

About the author

Omair Alavi

Omair Alavi is a highly regarded journalist, critic, and commentator, specializing in news, sports, showbiz, film, blogs, articles, drama, reviews, and PTV drama. With extensive experience and a keen eye for storytelling, he captivates audiences with his insightful analysis and compelling presentations. His expertise and contributions have made him a prominent figure in the media and entertainment industry.