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Bollywood’s Dream Girl Turns 71 And Here’s A Look Back At Her #GoodTimes

Bollywood’s ‘Dream Girl’, who danced her way into hearts five decades ago continues to mesmerise with her screen presence. An actress who dominated the screens through the 70s and 80s, Hema Malini was the poster girl of versatility.

Rejected from what was to be her debut Tamil  film for being too thin, destiny had other plans as Bombay beckoned the teenager. Making her debut opposite the then 44 year old showman Raj Kapoor in Sapno Ka Saudagar, the film was her stepping stone to success.

The actress still reminisces about how gawky she felt serenading Raj Kapoor and giving him lessons on love in the movie!

In 1969, she was cast opposite Dharamendra in Tum Haseen Main Jawan, the man who she would later marry, the only recollection Hema has is of wearing ridiculous blue wig as she shimmied in front of a rather good looking Dharmendra.

She tasted blockbuster success in Dev Anand’s heist drama Johnny Mera Naam in 1970, but the young actress was willing to take another risk. The 1971 musical hit Andaz saw her playing a young widow but the same year playing the jealous calculating mistress to a zamindar in Lal Pathar was a turning point. A role she was advised not to take up as it would spell professional disaster had critics sit up and take notice of her, playing the scorned Saudamini who remorselessly plots her revenge.

But the best was yet to come in the 1972 comedy of errors, Seeta Aur Geeta. Playing a double role opposite Dharamendra and Sanjeev Kumar, she impressed with her comic timing and ability to play the meek and submissive Seeta and the loud, devil may care Geeta. The film bagged her the best actress award and with just four years in the industry she had carved a niche for herself as one of the most bankable leading lady.

In 1975 she breezed in as the unforgettable chatter box Basanti, the tongewali in Sholay. 43 years since the film Basanti continues to rule the cinematic hall of fame, etched firmly in pop culture. Sholay also holds special memories for the actress as this was the time when the Hema-Dharam romance was in full bloom, and the reel life played out in real. The two went on to do 28 films together and their on screen chemistry made them one of the most sought after pairs. Even as she was at the receiving end by a few for her involvement with a married man and a father of four, the actress defied convention and chose to marry Dharmendra in 1980.

Though marriage in those days meant the end of an illustrious career for the leading lady, Hema Malini continued to rule the screens. Pregnant with her first child, she was seen in Manoj Kumar’s Kranti, sharing screen space with Thespian Dilip Kumar. The same year she was a part of the multi-starrer Naseeb with Amitabh Bachchan, followed by the super hit Satte pe Satta, a remake of Seven Brides For Seven Brothers.

She played the first female Muslim ruler Razia Sultan in Kamal Amrohi’s 1983 magnum opus, one of the most expensive films to be made then, though it succumbed at the box office faster than the Sultanate was wiped by the Mughals, the film is remembered for her performance and Khayaam’s timeless memories!

The 90’s saw her in supporting roles in films like Jamai Raja and directing Shahrukh Khan in her first directorial venture Dil Aashna Hai.

Playing the supportive wife and anguished mother in the 2003 Baghban, opposite Amitabh Bachchan was one of her finest performances, the movie a blockbuster hit was about parents caught between the crossfire of their children’s selfishness and greed.

Though dancing remains her first love, Hema Malini continues to charm audiences with her stage productions and as she turns 71, in her case, age is just a number.