“I’d love to die with my boots on while facing the camera” Says DHARMENDRA

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By Team Bollyy
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“I’d love to die with my boots on while facing the camera” Says DHARMENDRA

“I never pushed myself because I never aimed for the top bracket”

JYOTHI VENKATESH profiles DHARMENDRA, one legend in the film industry who has tasted dizzying heights of stardom and yet continues to remain an affable and humble He Man the film industry has ever seen till date.

At 86, Dharmendra who had made his debut with the film Dil Bhi Tere Hum Bhi Tere way back in the early 60's and what's more is still acting in Karan Johar's latest film, has not lost one bit of the charm that made him a heartthrob in his younger days and the actor continues to be a romantic at heart.

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To what extent do you believe in destiny?

Destiny has always played a vital role in shaping my career. I cannot forget the fact that Duttsaab and Nargis were the judges who had selected me in United Producers’ contest. If they had not selected me, I may have been a farmer somewhere in Punjab even today.

Mukesh had sung Mujhko Is Raat Ki Tanhaiyi Mein for you. How was it working with his grandson Neil Mukesh?

It is indeed ironical that while the late Mukesh had sung the song Mujhko Is Raat Ki for the first time for me, when I was still struggling as an actor though I had signed the contract for Bimal Roy’s film Bandini, his grandson Niel Mukesh made his bow as an actor with me in Johnny Gaddaar.

Neil was not in awe of me as a co-star while we worked in Johnny Gaddaar because I never let my co-actors feel that I am a senior actor.

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Can you recall any anecdote connected with the recording of the song with Mukesh?

I was at that time acting in Shola Aur Shabnam, which, I think was my second film after I had made my debut with Arjun Hingorani’s Dil Bhi Tere Hum Bhi Tere.

When I was told that Mukesh would be giving me playback for the song, I was extremely excited and walked all the way from Andheri where I was staying to Mehboob Recording Studio in Bandra only to be disappointed after being told that Mukesh had cancelled the recording because he was not feeling well.

I also remember walking all the way to Ranjeet Studio to meet Kaka ( not to be confused with Rajesh Khanna) who had a small restaurant nearby to ask for a loan of ten rupees because I was hungry and my pride would not have allowed me to eat without paying him.

How confident are you with any film before it is released?

If I say that I do not get scared at all before the release of a film of mine, I’d be a liar. I am quite scared about how any film will be accepted and the feedback to my role.

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In what way do you think the film industry has changed today?

Technique has changed a lot today. Earlier we used to convey one single expression in ten lines whereas today in one single line, actors convey ten different expressions. The I.Q of kids today is very sharp compared to what we had then.

Like Vyjayanthimala and Dev Anand, are you also planning to come up with an autobiography?

I am in the process of writing a book. I write what I ‘feel’. The book will take you on a journey through my life with all its ups and downs, though it would not be controversial enough to hit any one below the belt.

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What is your greatest sorrow today when you look back at your career?

I felt pain when Natraj Studio was being demolished to give way to a housing society. I remember with nostalgia the various films for which I had shot in Natraj Studio.

I had shot for the maximum number of films in Natraj, Prakash and Modern Studios. None of them is there today. My biggest sorrow today is that they have all become extinct.

How painful was it for you to be away from the camera?

I have always loved camera. Till 1994, I was quite busy as an actor and used to do at times even thirty pictures in two shifts every day. I’d love to die with my boots on while facing the camera.

I was lifeless when I was not facing the camera for almost ten years till I was signed for films like Johnny Gaddaar, Metro and Apne.

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How did you manage to do the lip lock scene with Nafeesa in Life In A Metro?

To tell you the truth, I was scared when Anurag told me that there was a lip-lock scene between Nafeesa and me. Initially I did not know what lip lock meant. I told Basu I knew what lip is and what exactly lock is but did not know the meaning of lip-lock.

When he explained to me that I was to do a lip to lip kiss with Nafeesa, I was scared a little because I did not know how my family and fans would react to it, but Anurag convinced me and Nafeesa saw to it that I was comfortable, because even now I am a basically shy dehati at heart.

Is it true that you are toying with the idea of coming up with a sequel to Sholay?

I have not seen Ramgopal Varma Ki Aag which, I believe was his version of Sholay. However I am very keen on making a sequel to Sholay with me playing Veeru and Hema playing Basanti. I would like to cast Bobby and Abhishek as the sons of Veeru and Basanthi.

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Would you say that you were laid-back as far as your career was concerned?

I am happy with the way my career has shaped till date though as an actor I have had my own share of ups and downs in life.

I am happy with the fact that I had never pushed myself in film industry because I had never aimed for the top bracket. I never thought of becoming the No 1 star because I have always felt that to be in the rat race is painful.

What kind of roles would you like to do, as an actor?

I am known for my rough and tough image onscreen. I want to lay my hands on any role which is true to life. I am keen on taking up offers to play zinda characters.

I also would like to do comedy like I had done in films like Sholay and Chupke Chupke, because I know for a fact that people love to see me in comedy roles. I have been a very emotional man in my life and I think it makes you feel life more intensely.

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What do you regret in life?

My biggest fault was that I never said no and sometimes signed movies which I would not have done otherwise. My family asked me not to do this picture, I agreed but the movie became a huge hit. I have listened to other people more than myself. I have led a happy life and I am still working on my mistakes.

Par jab peechhe mud kar dekhta hoon to kuchch tasalli si nahi hoti . I could have done some things better but I think we all experience this.When you are facing the camera, your shot is the most important thing. It is like any regular film. But yes, working with your family, you tend to express your emotions better because there is a sense of reality to it.

Will we get to see you in any reality show after India’s Got Talent?

I have received offers to appear in reality shows earlier also but nothing has appealed to me. It is not a dance or singing reality show.

People with any talent can come here and that's what appealed to me. I understand the feeling of a contestant because I have come from one such contest. But it is very heartbreaking to say no. I tried to be as gentle as possible.

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Do you think that there is no more space in cinema for formula stuff?

One thing that I am sure will not happen in my movies is bad language. There is no space for formula in cinema now. We used to have formula and people liked it but they don't want predictable things anymore.

Even I don't want to see that. Pictures should be closer to reality. But yes, words have become vulgar. It is difficult to watch a film with one's family nowadays. We should not use bad words because they affect children badly.

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