"I liked him (Dharmendra) - I couldn't deny that he was attractive and strong and there was an air of serenity about him. I tried turning away from him. But I couldn't. There was something inherently good about him.
One day, while we were shooting, he suddenly asked me if I loved him. I began to blush and replied indirectly "I will only marry the person I love." That was my only answer, " confessed Hema Malini in her autobigraphy, 'Beyond the Dream Girl'. Such was the charm of this dashing hero who could make a million hearts flutter with his wooing and at the same time, beat the baddies to pulp on-screen.
As one of the most versatile and good-looking actors turns 83 today, we take a walk down the memory lane and take a closer look at some of the lesser-known aspects about his life-
From A Simple Jatt Lad From Bollywood To His Entry In Films
‘I was in awe of the stars like Dilip (Kumar) saab, Raj (Kapoor) saab and even heroines like Nargis, Madhubala and Vyjayanthimala. But my ambitions were quite restricted! My big dream and my simple prayer to God was my pictures being present everywhere, just like those of my idols.'
'My goal was very simple - one flat and one Fiat (car)! When I came to Bombay - that's what Mumbai was known as then - I only had my dreams. I was an untutored villager, with no idea of acting. I wasn't even aware [that] I was good-looking until I began getting movie offers because of my good looks.
When I arrived here, I was in fact shocked by the lifestyles of the stars - it was far different from what I had imagined back in Punjab!," recollects Dharmendra in his book, 'Dharmendra- Not Just A He-Man'.
A Great Fan Of Dilip Kumar
In a Filmfare interview in 2000, the actor revealed, "I was a die-hard fan of Dilip saab's. I always wanted to meet him. And I got the opportunity during the Filmfare talent contest.
Sayeeda Khan, Dilip saab's sister, was doing my make-up. I pleaded with her to introduce me to her brother. That's how I first met my idol. What an actor. A good human being too. Though I had met him for the first time, he made me sit and have lunch with him. He was so affectionate. I can never forget that. It seems like it happened just yesterday."
His Struggling Days
"I came from a middle-class family, and I would sit with the dancer boys and girls and eat bhajiyas. In my struggling days, I would swim in a creek in half-pants.
There was a hotel in Juhu where a band would play, and I would tell myself that I would drink coffee there one day. I would see cottages and say to myself that I'd buy my own house there someday. There was an innocence in me."
A Mamma's Boy
"Once when I had flu and was aching all over, my mother sat next to me and put her hand on my forehead. It was so comforting. Believe me, my temperature miraculously became normal within minutes.
Maa loved me a lot. She came down to Bombay to meet me when I'd just begun to make a name for myself. She fell ill on the train. Her blood pressure plummetted.
When I went to receive her at the station, she saw people pointing at me and whispering. Then she saw the posters of my films on the way home. By the time we reached home she was perfectly all right. She was that thrilled about my success." recalled Dharmendra in an old interview.
The Humorous Side To Dharmendra
"As a youngster in my village in Punjab, I was always a maha chaloo (mischievous and shrewd) guy! I was witty, naughty as well as paradoxically shy because of my rustic roots!
I would blush at any kind of praise about my looks or anything else and yet would make people laugh instantly with my humor. Good directors sense your potential and help discover it," says Dharmendra about the comic streak in him.