Everyone who knows anything about Hema Malini who has recently completed forty years in films knows that she made her debut in Hindi films with Raj Kapoor in “Sapno Ka Saudagar” – ALI PETER JOHN
But very few or no one knows how it all really happened. Hema who is mostly very reluctant to talk about her past came out with the real story during one of our spontaneous conversations.
She remembered every little scene that took place before, during and after she was finalized as the heroine of Raj Kapoor in her first film, “Sapnon Ka Saudagar”. To summarize that story which she told me with a lot of excitement when put in simple language goes something like this.
She was completely obsessed with classical dance and was an expert and a known performer at shows all over the South when she was just sixteen and never dreamt of making it as an actress.
It was during one of her shows that a South Indian producer, B. Ananthaswamy noticed her and decided to cast her in his film. He met her parents who had no objections to her taking up a career as an actress, but he somehow could not make his own film.
But he always had the young Hema in mind. He came to know that Raj Kapoor was looking for a new actress to be cast opposite him in a film called “Sapno Ka Saudagar”. Ananthaswamy wanted Hema to try.
He again sought the permission of her parents and told Hema about the film. She said she felt he was joking till she finally “took my first ever flight in an aeroplane to Bombay”.
She still couldn’t believe that she was going to meet the great Raj Kapoor till she finally reached the gate of R.K. Studios. She was introduced to the great showman by Ananthaswamy.
That day the showman had renowned guests like K. Asif, the maker of “Mughal-E-Azam”, Mahesh Kaul who was to direct “Sapno Ka Saudagar”, Raj’s music directors, Shankar and Jaikishan and his “voice”, Mukesh around.
He first had a look at Hema through the lens and then asked all his guests to have a look at her.
Hema said she was both nervous and excited to face such great personalities. Raj then asked her to wear the costume Padmini had worn in “Jis Desh Mein Ganga Behti Hain” and asked her if she could speak some lines in Hindi.
She was confident and agreed but when it was time to give the shot there was a little uncertainty but she remembers how a make-up man Vishnu kept encouraging her and she finally gave Raj Kapoor the wanted impact and after some time she was told that she was selected to play his heroine in “Sapno Ka Saudagar”.
That was the beginning of Hema’s career which is still going strong.
THE HEMA MALINI VERY FEW KNOW
- She belonged to a typical South Indian Brahmin family in Chennai. Her father was a Central Government officer and her mother a well-known dancer.
- Hema was born in Chennai but her father was soon transferred to Delhi and she had to spend her early childhood in Delhi. But to her good luck, her father was again transferred to Chennai and life was normal because there were no further transfers for her father.
- Hema’s mother, Mrs. Jaya Chakravarthy made her take classical dance seriously right from the time she was three years old and Hema picked up all the major forms of classical dance like Bharat Natyam, Kuchipudi, Mohini Attam and Oddissi. She was considered a child prodigy.
- She has no hesitation in letting people know that she did not study beyond finishing her school and openly says, “I was just not interested in studying any further but was only interested in growing better as a dancer, a process which never stops and has never stopped for me even today”.
- She was approached by many Tamil filmmakers but she showed no interest. The one producer who took interest in her was a man called B. Ananthaswamy who managed to finally get her into Hindi films. Unfortunately, he was also the man who took Hema and her parents for a ride when it came to money matters and they parted ways. Her mother then took charge of her career and managed everything about Hema’s career with the help of a secretary called I.K .Behl and a manager who they called “Mehtaji” who is still working with her.
- Hema has played leading roles in more than 300 films which is a record for any actress anywhere.
- She shot to stardom with films like “Johnny Mera Naam” and “Joshilaay” both with Dev Anand. She did some other films with Dev which were not so successful. She was such a great admirer of Dev that she performed a special ‘pooja’ in her house where there is a temple for the success of Dev’s films.
- When she became a very big star she built her own bungalow in Juhu opposite the bungalow of Manoj Kumar with whom she did some of her most successful films, the last being the major multi-starrer “Kranti”. Her old bungalow has now been demolished and she and her daughters are living in an apartment which has come up where her bungalow was. Her elder daughter Esha who tried as an actress gave up and got married last year, but she always finds time when there is a dance concert in which the mother and her two daughters, Esha and Ahaana mesmerize audiences anywhere in the world.
- Though she belonged to a very traditional family where love stories were almost banned she had three major love stories in her life. The first actor to propose to her was Sanjeev Kumar and she personally liked him and was ready to marry him, but her strict mother put her foot down and said she would not allow her daughter to marry a Gujarati and someone who was strictly non-vegetarian and had a weakness for alcohol. Hema had to listen to her mother’s orders and Sanjeev was out of her life. Jeetendra and Dharmendra fell in love with her at the same time. Jeetendra who was doing a film called “Dulhan” with her and was shooting in Chennai made all arrangements to marry Hema without his girlfriend Shobha or anyone from his family or Hema’s family knowing about it. Dharmendra, however came to know about what was planned by the two. He asked Shobha to join him and they took a flight to Chennai and the marriage was stopped. However Dharmendra who was a married man with four children fell in love with her madly and she was also pregnant. They broke all traditions and customs and got married and Dharmendra took Hema as his second wife. They have been living in different homes in the same area, Dharmendra visits her and their two daughters, Esha and Ahaana when he is free in Mumbai.
- Hema took an interest in directing films and made her debut as a director with “Dil Aashna Hain” in which she introduced Shah Rukh Khan as a romantic hero. She completed directing a film called “Tell Me, Oh Khudah” in which she wanted to prove how good her daughter Esha was as an actress. It was also the first time that she convinced Dharmendra to play Esha’s father in the film which had senior actors like Vinod Khanna, Rishi Kapoor, Deepti Naval, Farouque Shaikh and a young actor, Arjun Bajwa. But, the film was a big flop and Hema with the permission of Dharamji got Esha married.
- She is 66 now but still looks as beautiful, or even more beautiful than some of the best young actresses of today. When asked about the secret of her beauty and her personality, she says, “It is all because of my respect for the gift of my beauty given to me by God. I do my Yoga and other exercises and above all the one thing that keeps me fit is my regular riyaaz in dancing which I have even made my daughters follow and recommend to all those who want to keep fit. “There is no better exercise than classical dancing to keep both body and soul perfect,” she says
- She was invited to join the BJP like her husband Dharmendra. She agreed and took politics seriously when she was nominated to the Rajya Sabha where she completed one term. She has now been elected to the Lok Sabha from Mathura. She is one of the most popular campaigners for her party and has travelled to every nook and corner of the country promoting her party and its candidates. Of late, she has been appointed the president of the Women’s Wing of the party. Asked if she would like to be a minister, she blushes and says, “I have just passed my school. All my experience is from life. I don’t think I have the qualifications to be a minister”. Her husband, Dharmendra who was an elected member of the Lok Sabha from Bikaner has kept away from politics after one term in the Lok Sabha.
- When told about her husband writing his autobiography she says, “I am very happy that he is doing something which I can never think of doing. I wonder what he will write about me in the book”.
- She runs a number of trusts which help the lowly and the downtrodden. She also has a dancing class being run in Chennai and she has her dancing group which is headed by her and now joined by her daughters and the three perform regularly in India and in different parts of the world.
- Some time ago she met with a major accident and created a sensation all over with people wondering whether she would still be the “dream girl” but after a few days in hospital and after a minor surgery she emerged as beautiful as she was and like someone said, “ek chhota sa accident inke sundarta ka kya bigaad sakta hai”?
- When asked about the future of her daughters, she says, “I have given them the best training to face life. The rest depends on what they do with their lives and what God has planned for them”.
- Hema Malini who started her career in Tamil films has been active for the last forty-five years and has worked as the heroine in more than hundred and fifty films.
THE HEROES SHE HAS WORKED WITH
Raj Kapoor, Dev Anand, Dharmendra (eighteen films together), Jeetendra, Sanjeev Kumar, Randhir Kapoor, Shatrughan Sinha, Shammi Kapoor, Shashi Kapoor, Raaj Kumar, Rajesh Khanna, Rishi Kapoor, Anil Kapoor, Manoj Kumar, Feroz Khan, Rajinikanth and Amitabh Bachchan among others.
THE DIRECTORS SHE HAS WORKED WITH
Mahesh Kaul (her first director in Hindi films), Yash Chopra, B.R Chopra, Vijay Anand, Dev Anand, Gulzar, J. Om Prakash, Mohan Kumar, Ramanand Sagar, Shakti Samanta, Pramod Chakravorty, Feroz Khan, Ramesh Sippy, Chetan Anand, Manoj Kumar, Raj N. Sippy, Rakesh Kumar, Ravi Chopra, Prem Sagar, Umesh Mehra, Manmohan Desai, Kamaal Amrohi, Rajendra Singh “Babu” and several leading directors from the south and even some directors who had still to make a name for themselves. She also worked in a serial called “Terah Panne” based on thirteen historical female characters and directed by Gulzar.
She has directed her own films like “Dil Aashna Hai” (in which she introduced Shah Rukh Khan) and “Tell Me Oh Khudah” (in which her husband Dharmendra and their daughter Esha Deol worked together for the first time).
HEMA AS A POLITICIAN
She joined the BJP as an active campaigner during elections and was then nominated to the Rajya Sabha. She is now an elected MP and a prominent and senior leader of the BJP.
THE SECRET OF HER YOUTH
Bharat Natyam, Kuchipudi and other classical forms of dancing.