Dharmendra on why he made Yamla Pagla Deewana: Phir Se — At 83, my best film is yet to come

Abhishek Srivastava

Sep 01, 2018 10:06:30 IST

No many know but the film that changed Dharmendra’s career forever could also have been his last. It was on the third day of the shooting of the 1966 blockbuster Phool Aur Patthar, which also gave the actor the sobriquet of He-Man. Vexed with the arrogant behavior of director OP Ralhan, he decided to quit his film career.

Phool Aur Patthar was a turning point in my career and I had quit that film on account of its director’s annoying and mean attitude. I let him know on the third day of the shoot that no one can disrespect me and no one has the right to play with my honour. I reached home and told my mother to pack up things and move back to Punjab. I told her that they are not the sort of people I would work with and there is no point staying back in Bombay. The director often used to address people on the set as kabootri and lamboo, and what not. Later ,I put him in his place,” reminisces the veteran actor.

Dharmendra on why he made Yamla Pagla Deewana: Phir Se —  At 83, my best film is yet to come

Sunny Deol, Dharmendra and Bobby Deol in a still from Yamla Pagla Deewana: Phir Se

Hardcore movie buffs can only thank God that Dharmendra did not move back to his native place but stayed back to give cult classics like Chupke Chupke, Satyakam, Anupama and Sholay. Even at 83, the actor believes that his best is yet to come, and for the precise reason, he is still acting in films. The third instalment of the Yamla Pagla Deewana series, Yamla Pagla Deewana: Phir Sewhich will see him in the role of a lawyer who travels to Gujarat to fight a case, is another attempt by the soft-spoken actor in search for his ‘best’. When I meet him, it is a bevy of reporters who have gathered to interview the legend but a majority of them are present only to click a selfie with the macho star.

The actor reveals that he considers himself fortunate that he became a part of the industry and did not join it with the purpose of making money or fame. “To be a part of the industry was my biggest dream and Bollywood is one place where you are loved and admired the maximum. When I saw Dilip Kumar’s Shaheed in 1948, he straight away entered my heart and after that, I kept wondering that where do such good looking men and fairies live. I said to myself that I belong there and after that, it became an obsession to join the the industry. I did not go to any acting school and straight from a village, came to Bombay and joined the film industry, " he says. Dharmendra believes that his qualities of being romantic, witty and slightly naughty came in handy as these helped him in becoming an actor.

A conversation with the veteran actor is bound to take anyone down the memory lane and this interview is no exception. The actor admits that whenever he visits the studios, its walls remind him of his friends and the bygone era. “I miss my people; I miss my colleagues. Whenever I go to studios, I only think of them. I have shared such wonderful moments with Mahmood, Johnny Walker and now, they are no more. They often appear in front of my eyes," he says. The actor adds that he is an emotional person and such memories brings him pain. The actor remarks that in his era, studios used to be like temples for actors.

But despite a ripe age of 83, the actor keeps a close watch on the actors of the industry and whenever time permits, never fails to see their new releases. He has special compliments for the current heartthrob Ranveer Singh. “They all are very good. Ranveer Singh is a very fine actor and he virtually lived the role in Padmaavat. His performance was so real that I saluted him. I could not see Dangal when it released in theatres as I was staying at my farm but after I saw the film at home, I cried. I think they are much better than us.”

Dharmendra

Dharmendra

The veteran actor also has an opinion on the stardom of the current crop of actors. Dharmendra believes that now, stardom has got to do more with the creation of an effect. “The actors of the current era now do it just to show things in front of the camera. If I were to go out today, I can manage so much of crowd that media won’t have space to park their cameras. But everything boils down to respecting their emotions. If you don’t reciprocate their feelings, it won’t seem good," he says. He also adds that he was never involved in the number game. “It’s the media who made me what I am today. Some called me He-Man while others called me Garam Dharam. This was not my creation and neither I forced anyone to do it. These days, most look for those small little things to gain publicity. Now stardom has become a weekly affair.”

Rishi Kapoor in his autobiography has mentioned that he regrets till today that he did not work with Gulzar, Shakti Samanta, Hrishikesh Mukherjee and Basu Chatterjee. Does Dharmendra have any such regrets? “I feel really sorry for not working with Mehboob Khan. He was a great director and despite being an illiterate, had made Mother India. Not many know about his film repertoire. Once when I was drunk, I met Mehboob Saab at Mehboob Studio when we both were relieving ourselves. It was then I requested him, 'Aap mere saath ek film banaiye, achhi film banegi. He only said, 'Haan, Dharam banayenge'. K Asif Saab too wanted to make a film called Sasta Khoon Mehnga Paani but the film could not reach fruition.” But it is the mention of Hrishikesh Mukherji which almost chokes his voice and makes him teary eyed. He reveals that Hrishi da had requested him to relieve him of his medical pipes when he was bed-ridden.

Yamla Pagla Deewana: Phir Se is a home production. Ask him if there are pressures involved when a film is a family affair and he mentions that whosoever says that there are no pressures, is telling a lie. “My mother used to say to me that she often prays that no son in the world should become an actor. Actors die and live with every film. There is always tension involved when you make a film as many things are at stake. The tension is there but there is no fear,” he signs off.

All images from Twitter.

Updated Date: Sep 01, 2018 10:06:30 IST

Your guide to the latest election news, analysis, commentary, live updates and schedule for Lok Sabha Elections 2019 on firstpost.com/elections. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram or like our Facebook page for updates from all 543 constituencies for the upcoming general elections.