People saw him…people came to watch him on silver screen …But before he conquered he lost his way…
In 1958, on a random street of Mumbai, a bus full of young eager men stopped. The destination was the venue of the first ever Filmfare´s Talent Hunt. Among the hundreds of good looking lads, a guy caught the attention of producer Arjun Hingorani and the rest is a glorious 56-year run called Dharmendra’s career.
Many times media have referred him as the most handsome man to have walked the soils of showbiz in India. But there was something else, which was more impressive than his looks – his film career. He has survived showbiz and he has survived superstars.
He started his career in 1960 and had to deal with the mercurial rise of Shammi Kapoor. In the 60´s, he had to contend with Rajendra ‘Jubilee’ Kumar as well. Come 1969 he lived and thrived in the shadow of the Rajesh Khanna phenomenon. And just before he could stake claim to the marquee crown in the early ’70s, came the angry young man Amitabh Bachchan. And then, this handsome hunk and a romantic star was transformed and narrowed down to the action hero, his image which is stamped in the mind of the present generation.
In 70´s he tried all genres of cinema and appreciated in all forms, began to be called a versatile actor by 1975. At this point of time, Rajesh Khanna´s crown was on a stake and Dharmendra was on the rise with his successful pairing with Hema Malini. Having said that, despite not carrying favors from the media or the critics, Dharmendra became the industry’s favorite leading man. He earned the epithet of ‘bankable star’ because of his films, no matter how loosely crafted, earned the proverbial big bucks.
But before he would have claimed the superstar crown, Amitabh Bachchan with his “Angry Young Man” image rose to that success which is still to be repeated in Indian Cinema. The rise of Amitabh Bachchan, who was also as versatile as Dharmendra became the first choice of big production houses. Dharmendra turned to action, and his physique and dialogue delivery made him the “Macho- Man” of Indian Cinema. But after this, even being one of the most popular stars in India, Dharmendra lost his way in the superstar´s transition and delved deeper into the action genre. Although he was not crowned as a superstar, he remained the most loved star of Bollywood. He is a born entertainer and we reckon, like most eccentric geniuses, doesn’t know where to stop. The reason Dharmendra continued to be a successful leading man, even as he neared his 60s, was thanks to his charisma. Much before Shah Rukh Khan came to own the word charismatic, Dharmendra made a living off it.
Now well in his late-70s, Dharmendra still commands a hardy fan following. Yamla Pagla Deewana is a successful Deol family franchise and Dharmendra is more than just nostalgia value.
Written By- Prakash Singh