'Dharamji, Jeetu (Jeetendra), Rajesh Khanna and Shashi Kapoor had unique dance styles.'
'Manoj Kumar would just stand and that became his style.'
'Dharamji was amazing. He is not a dancer at all, he doesn’t know anything and yet he danced. I was shocked looking at him in the song Yamla Pagla Deewana. I was thinking, what is he doing? He was jumping and it was unbelievable.'
Hema Malini gets candid.
Hema Malini is a very gracious host.
As soon as I met her at her sprawling bungalow in Juhu, a posh Mumbai suburb, she greeted me and offered tea/ coffee.
Even though she had a sore throat, she was in good spirits and chatted about various topics with the media present. She seemed very amused with the award wapsi issue, and had her own views regarding it.
She spoke to Jahanvi Patel/ Rediff.com about dance, Shah Rukh Khan and much more.
Which has been your toughest song-and-dance in the movies?
I have never thought that way.
For me, dance was only Bhratnatyam and classical dance. Once, I was shooting a song called Chal Sanyasi Mandir Mein with Manoj Kumar. It wasn't a typical Bollywood number, and had some classical dance moves. After pack up, I had to rush to perform for a show, where I danced for three hours.
My lifestyle was like that. Though I was in Bollywood, I never did Bollywood (dance).
Among my classical dances, I loved my Mrig Trishna dance. People should try that on stage, I don't know why they don't. It's beautifully written. A dancer should have the qualities of an Apsara (celestial dancer). Anybody cannot be a dancer. A dancer must have a certain posture, gestures, height, behaviour... all this is written in the natya shastra. Keeping this in mind, a song was made and I danced on it. It was sung by Mohammad Rafi.
I can’t dance; my body won’t allow me. Even if I want, something inside my body says no., you cannot do it.
Who was your best partner?
Every male artist had their different style of dancing.
Dharamji, Jeetu (Jeetendra), Rajesh Khanna and Shashi Kapoor had unique dance styles.
Manoj Kumar would just stand and that became his style.
If I have to name someone, then Dharamji was amazing. He is not a dancer at all, he doesn’t know anything and yet he danced. I was shocked looking at him in the song Yamla Pagla Deewana. I was thinking, what is he doing? He was jumping and it was unbelievable.
Shashi Kapoor and Amitabh Bachchan were good dancers.
Which actress is the best dancer today?
Aishwarya (Rai Bachchan) and Deepika (Padukone).
I like Deepika a lot. She is a very sweet girl, and that shows in her face. She has simplicity, which is very attractive.
Any kind of dress suits her; nothing looks cheap. She has a nice body.
Aishwarya is different, but very beautiful as well. I saw her film Jazbaa, it was good.
Shah Rukh Khan turned 50 recently, and you had directed him in one of his earliest films, Dil Aashna Hai. What made you cast him?
He had just done one television serial then, called Fauji. I liked him. He was very striking and different from the others.
But when I met him, a short boy came up to me, and I was wondering what to do.
Dharamji reasoned and said no one would know about his height.
But he was beautiful, bright, intelligent and had a smart face. And he acted so well.
One of the scenes in the film was written by Dharamji.
Has Shah Rukh changed over the years?
He is the same nice boy. He still comes and greets me. He is so lovely.
Your dance recital Jaya Smriti is a tribute to your mother. Is this your best way to express yourself to her?
Yes. She has always promoted artists. She always said that I must do it as well, and help others. She would tell me that making a name for yourself is not enough; one must help others as well, which not many artists do. They only think about themselves and don’t want others to come in their way. But I never felt that way.
When I was at the top, my mother was helping other girls. I thought it was a beautiful gesture and that I should continue it in her name.
I’m planning to open a dance institute and if everything falls in place, I’m going to name the institute after her.
At the show, (classical singer) Kelucharan Mohapatraji’s granddaughter is dancing and (classical singer) Kishori Amonkar’s granddaughter is singing.
I’m inviting young artists from Bollywood, so the crowd will be able to see them, and they will also get to see what classical dance is because they mostly do Bollywood dance. They are taught dancing before getting into Bollywood but I don’t think they’ve ever done classical dance.
Esha and Ahana have danced at Jaya Smriti many times before. This time, Esha assisted me. Ahana is in Delhi.
You’re a proud grandmother now.
My little girl (Ahana) has given me a wonderful grandmotherly feeling. It is an unbelievable feeling to hold a little baby, who is your own.
I used to hold Ahana and get the same feeling that I get with her son. I cannot explain how lovely it is. He’s a beautiful child. He is only four months old.
You said you want Esha to have a baby soon. How did she react to that?
She fired me and said, 'What is this mummy? You’re telling the whole world about it!'
I told her that if somebody asked me a question, I have to answer to them, so I did.
They will decide when they want to have a baby.