'Nowadays, every week there is a comparison.'
'This week someone is on top, next week someone else.'
'For me, the love that I got made my legs strong, not my head.'
There is a different charm in interviewing senior actors.
Not only because they have so many anecdotes to share, but also because their energy is still unmatched.
A conversation with Dharmendra will leave you in awe.
The 83-year-old legend is promoting his home production, Yamla Pagla Deewana Phir Se, and is absolutely gung-ho about it.
"It is fun to meet young kids and interact. Gives a new perspective to life. I love it," he declares to Rediff.com contributor Urvi Parikh.
Did you miss being in front of the camera?
I don't think I am away.
Even today, I feel it is like a dream come true.
It is human nature to like it when you are loved and admired. And this is the best profession where you will get it!
I did not come to Mumbai to become a hero to earn money.
I saw Dilip Kumarsaab's Shaheed and that role stayed in my heart. That is when I thought I belong to this place.
Since I was the eldest child, my sense of responsibilities had to be considered.
Luckily, I knew what worked for me.
To me, acting is reacting. An emotional person will react quickly.
For instance, if a kid falls, they will immediately react, 'Arre, be careful, did you hurt yourself?'
Similarly, if someone insults them, they will immediatley react: 'Abbe, teri maa...'
I am an emotional person and so my acting is like reacting.
I have never learnt acting; I did not go to any acting school.
I came here directly from the village.
I am romantic, witty, naughty... and I show that in my acting.
Do you miss the olden days?
I miss my people.
I miss my colleagues.
Sometimes when I go to the studios, I think of them.
Mehmood, Johnny Walker... they are gone and I miss them.
The studios that we saw, there would be a mandir in it. So we thought of them as gurukuls.
Times change and we have to evolve with it.
Movies have to change according to the generation. There's nothing wrong with that.
Film-makers are very chalu (smart) people. They know what will work.
How much has changed?
Our tehzeeb (culture) was different.
The respect we had for women was different.
Many female co-stars would bring their kids and would have the authority to tell me to hold them, and drop me home.
I have dropped so many of these lovely ladies home because they trusted me.
And they knew I respect them.
That is missing in today's times.
Do you watch today's films?
I have seen some movies. They are very good.
Ranveer Singh is a fine actor. In Bajirao Mastani, when he walks in the end with a sword, he was brilliant.
I saluted him.
I cried watching Dangal, especially the scene where the younger sister tells her (Geeta Phogat) that what she did with her father was wrong and that she has changed after going to the hostel.
In my era, there were predictable films.
Audience knew that Dharmendra will come now and then hit the villains.
They would start clapping even before I entered the scene.
That was loved, so they made it.
Whatever is loved today is being made now.
The definition of stardom has changed. Do you agree?
This fandom is all fake today.
Dikhawe ke liye ho raha hai (it's all for show).
I can also get a crowd here, but that is not how you make real fans.
One has to take care of their emotions and connect with them.
You are because of them.
I never wanted to be number one or anything.
The media called me 'He-Man', 'Garam Dharam'...
But many in our industry ask to be called that.
I have given many big films back in the 1960s and 1970s. I could have asked for a tag for myself, but that is not how I am.
Now, everything has changed.
Everything is weekly.
I cannot forget Dilip Kumar or Raj Kapoorsaab in two days.
In our times, good looking and good actors worked.
Today, anyone can be an actor. You don't need to be good looking or a good actor. (laughs)
You gave eight back-to-back hits in a year back in the day. Do you think today's stars can achieve that?
Aaj ke log kaam hi nahi karte (today's actors don't work).
I used to work three shifts.
In those days, I used to call myself a labourer actor. (laughs)
I used to work so many hours.
Did you miss seeing yourself on the screen?
I am madly in love with the screen.
This is not work, this is mohabbat.
Money and fame will come and go, but love will never leave us.
Nowadays, every week there is a comparison.
This week someone is on top, next week someone else.
For me, the love that I got made my legs strong, not my head.
I did not get high headed.
I respect each fan and don't want them to leave me.
The only way to keep them as my fans is to give them love.
You share a good equation with everyone in the film fraternity. They are just a phone call away from you.
That is my love for them and their love for me.
Even at my previous music releases and other events, all these actors would come -- Shah Rukh Khan, Aamir Khan, Salman Khan...
I remember at one event I had said, I am number one... all of them were wondering what I would say next.
I completed the sentence by saying, I am the number one dancer! (laughs)
Which film was the turning point in your career?
Phool Aur Patthar./p>
I had so much self respect that I left the movie on the third day itself because O P Jalan zabaan ke thode wo the... 'tu tu' se baat karte the.. (he didn't talk to me with respect).
If someone cannot talk to me with respect, I will not work even for a minute.
No one should hurt my self-respect.
On the third day, I told my mother let's leave and go back to Punjab. I brought him on line (brought Jalan to his senses).
Even though you are so good at comedy, you weren't offered many comedy films.
Comedies are beautiful and more difficult than tragedies and romance.
Only if you get the timing right will you be comfortable in it.
Earlier, no one would work with Mehmood sir because he was so good.
We had done a movie, Neela Aakash. I was doing a scene and during that, Mehmood said 'Cut!'
I asked him, 'Are you the captain of the ship?'
He said, 'No, please continue with your scene.'
From there our tuning matched and we did a lot of films.
I don't want to praise myself, but Pratigya's Dharmendra is different from Chupke Chupke's Dharmendra, who is different from Seeta Geeta's Dharmendra, who is different from Sholay's Dharmendra.
That is because I wasn't a method actor.
I get the feel, the language, the mannerisms and would keep changing according to the roles.
People accepted me in all kind of roles.
I have been good in everything, except dancing.
The choreographer would show me the steps. I would be brutally honest and tell him I can only do these steps.
If there was a retake, I would tell him that I cannot repeat it.
The second time I do the same step, but it would be something different. (laughs)
You boast of a massive female following. How do you make them go crazy?
I am blessed!
I did a movie where I was offered a villain's role.
I wasn't sure how the audience, especially the female fans, would see me in this role.
I think I was offered Madan Puri's role.
I did the film, and then once I was somewhere. I saw girls looking at me, screaming and cheering.
So I had managed to charm the girls even while playing villainous roles.
You write shayaris. Any plan to release them?
Maybe. But I don't want to publish them because it will just be there as a book for years.
Instead, I would love to record it in a CD in my voice, read it my way and give it to the audience.
How was it reuniting with your old friend Shatrughan Sinha in YPDPS?
I loved it, it was so good!
Our birthdays are just a day apart.
Whenever he would come to give me something on my birthday, main uske muh pe de maarta tha (He would get presents for me, and I would give it back to him).
Do you think promotions are taxing?
Yes, but I have become used to it.
It is like an appetiser.
If we don't give them this chaat, they won't like the dinner (referring to the film)!
It has started helping at the box office.
As an audience, when you see the Deols promoting, you would be curious to know which film of theirs is coming. And to make the audience aware, we do these promotions.
The fear that the movie may not do well is why we do this marketing.
The basic money that we have put in, at least that should be recovered.
Does the box office pressure bother you?
The pressure is always there.
Those who say they don't have any pressure are lying.
My mom had once told me that I pray to God that no one's son should become a hero.
'You live and die with every movie. I cannot see you like this. Be brave.'
So there is a tension.
I have become strong over the years.
There is a trend of biopics in Bollywood. Will we get to see one on you?
Mera nahi banega. Bana ke kya karenge? (Mine will never get made. What will they do after making it?)
The journey has been amazing.
People know they cannot approach me, so no one will come to me.