'I have the love of the audience for the last 60 years.'
'I am very greedy in this matter.'
'I want those who love me to continue doing so.'
The timeless Dharmendra celebrated his 86th birthday on December 8, and it makes him go down memory lane.
Dharamji tells Subhash K Jha, "I never had a problem with being in heroine-oriented films or films where other actors had more powerful roles. Even Sholay was more about Gabbar Singh (Amjad Khan) and Thakur (Sanjeev Kumar)."
What do you consider the most memorable moment of your life so far?
When I bagged my first role in Dil Bhi Tera Hum Bhi Tere.
It was in 1960 and I clearly remember that moment when my dear friend and guide Arjun Hingorani offered me the role.
It was a dream come true.
I never thought I would come this far.
Which among your films are your favourites?
Anupama, Chupke Chupke and most of all,Satyakam.
All the films I did with Hrishikesh Mukherjee were special.
I like so many others: Devar, Phool Aur Patthar, Sholay...
Pratiggya came in the same year as Sholay and got overshadowed. But it was one of my most challenging roles.
Shooting for it was like a picnic.
Kab shuroo hua kab khatam hua pataa hi nahin chala.
We were all together at a place near Bangalore.
Amit (Amitabh Bachchan) was with Jaya (Bhaduri), I was with Hema (Malini). It was great fun.
What do you think of the way your sons Sunny and Bobby's careers have gone?
They are big stars in their own right.
They have their own fan following.
In the Deol family, we have never believed in playing dirty games.
We are happy with what God has given us.
Our fans are loyal to us and have loved us for generations.
Who are your favourite co-stars?
I enjoyed working with all of them: I've done so many films with Hema and Sharmila (Tagore). They are a joy to work with.
So were Asha Parekh, Mala Sinha, Saira Banu... I did so many hit films with them.
With Nutanji, I did a few films, the most memorable being Bandini where I got the chance to be directed by the great Bimal Roy.
I always wanted to work with Sadhana, but did not the opportunity until very late in 1970, in Ishq Par Zor Nahin.
I have also worked with Jayalalithaji and Suchitra Sen...
Yes, Izzat and Mamta, respectively... You never shied away from doing films where the heroine had a more powerful role.
I never had a problem with being in heroine-oriented films or films where other actors had more powerful roles.
Even Sholay was more about Gabbar Singh (Amjad Khan) and Thakur (Sanjeev Kumar).
Any unfulfilled dreams?
None at all. Bhagwan ka diya hua sab kuch hai.
Most of all, I have the love of the audience for the last 60 years.
I consider myself blessed.
I am very greedy in this matter.
I want those who love me to continue doing so.
I can never get enough of their love.