“I was dressed in this ridiculous blue, shimmery wig and singing ‘Aap ko phele bhi kahin dekha hai’ and he looked so handsome in the uniform.” This is how Hema Malini describes her first meeting with Bollywood’s ‘man of steel’ Dharmendra on the sets of their first film together, “Tum Haseen Main Jawan”.
She was virtually new to Bollywood, and was making a mark. He had proved himself as the man with the chiselled physique – who could pound the bad guys to pulp, and even romance his leading lady with a song! Was there instant attraction? According to Bollywood tales, yes! But the hitch – he was a married man with four children, and she was initially hesitant to reciprocate.
But as Dharam and Hema went on to star in several films together, their on-screen chemistry made them the most sought after pair. Reel life imitated in real, and their closeness grew . She, in the meanwhile, warded off prospective suitors like Sanjeev Kumar and even Jeetendra!
The sets of Sholay in 1975 was quite the cupid’s corner. As sparks flew between writer Salim Khan and Helen, the Hema-Dharam romance was at it’s peak. “We were totally in love, I looked forward to being on sets,” is how Hema Malini recounts those days as she played ‘Basanti’ to his ‘Veeru’. Their romance was nothing short of a controversy, but she chose to defy convention. The much married Dharmendra converted to Islam to marry his ‘dream girl’!
However, not everyone was happy – Dharam’s older son Sunny, it was alleged, had barged into the actress’ home threatening her to leave his father. As years went by, Dharmendra seemed to have struck a balance between his two families – dividing his time between his first wife and second. Though Sunny and Bobby have never publicly acknowledged Hema and their half-sisters, Hema on the other hand loves the Deol outings on screen!