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Dharmendra: Down the memory lane

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Courtesy: IndiaFM
Monday, May 28, 2007
Dharmendra says there's a reason why Dev Anand and Dilip Kumar were invited as his special guests for Apne's music release. Here he rewinds to his first meetings with the legends

"Apne function ke liye apne hi chahiye. Raj Kapoor saab is no longer with us, but I wanted Dilipsaab and Devsaab with me. These are two people I'm emotionally connected with.

Even before I entered films, I used to admire them. Dilip Kumar was the reason I became an actor.

My mother used to say, 'Why don't you send an application?', as if it were some job that you could apply for!

But Filmfare actually had a talent search for actors that I applied for and maybe God listened to my mother's voice.

"I got selected by Nargisji and Duttsaab. In fact, Nargisji once told Duttsaab, 'If there's a handsome man, it's Dharmendra.'

So many compliments! Even Dilipsaab once said when he was presenting me an award, 'Mujhe Rab ne aise kyu nahi banaya?' Dilipsaab's sister Farida used to work at Filmfare.

She saw that I had no make-up on while they were taking my pictures and helped me put some. Someone said, 'Do you know she's Dilipsaab's sister?'"

"I ran behind her and said, 'I want to meet him.' She took me the next day at 8:30 pm to his house. Would you believe that we sat chatting till 2 am? He told me all about his struggling days in Pune. I think he was encouraging me.

Those days, I'm talking about 1958, it used to get cold at Pali Hill. Dilipsaab gave me his sweater. On the way home in a rickshaw, I decided to hold onto it as a keepsake."

"Recently, we were shooting for a serial for Saira (Banu). When he was helping me choose a suit to wear, I told him about the sweater. He said, 'Mujhe yaad hai. I brought two sweaters back from Paris and one (K Asif) Asif took and one you did. I lost both!"

"With Devsaab, I was there for a screen test at Central studio in Tardeo. Devsaab came before and my whole body language was shouting out to hug Devsaab - he was my idol too.

I didn't say anything, but he must have read my expression. In the whole room of aspiring actors, he put his arm around me and said, 'Hey you! You will make it.

One day, you will be a big star.' He made me sit at his table for dinner. When I was about to drink a glass of water, he said, 'Wait!' and pushed the icebox towards me. It was the first time I'd seen one - I was such a dehati!"

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