The ‘He’ man of Hindi cinema turns 85 today, but celebrations have to wait a bit. His heart is with farmers’ plight and the families facing corona; he is not the one to ring-in another year with festivities as millions other struggle. “I would celebrate my birthday once the farmers’ genuine demands are met,” he says.
“Apne iss birthday par bahut dukhi, bebas hoon, lachaar hoon. Mein koi khush khabri to kya sunayoon, meri bus dua hai ki nau taarek ko kisan bhayiyon ki jaayez demands par sarkar koi accha faisla le. Vahan se koi achi khabar aye to shayad mera janamdin kuch acha ho, tab tak to main ghutan mein hoon,” he adds.
While the actor from Punjab has got immense love from his audience — in fact, the fan-following for the Deol clan is massive in the state — Dharmendra says he has reached this stage through immense hard work and struggle. “You all know my story,” he puts in, sounding dull and down, instead of being upbeat about his special day. “I have never cared for money or fame, but the love of people. While I am touched that people are calling and wishing me, my heart is with farmers and everyone facing the pandemic.”
Dharmendra, who spent his childhood in his village Sahnewal, near Ludhiana, went to Mumbai chasing big dreams and then fulfilling them! He made a debut with the film Dil Bhi Tera Hum Bhi Tere in 1960 and later won awards for Phool Aur Patthar, Mera Gaon Mera Desh, Yaadon Ki Baaraat and Naukar Biwi Ka. Sholay, Phool Aur Patthar, Aankhen, Hukumat and Seeta Aur Geeta were his major hits.
He was voted among ‘the most handsome men in the world’ during the seventies. But all this matters little to this actor, who briefly dabbled in politics too. Today his wishes are with farmers. “I am a strong man, but also emotional. I have struggled for 60 long years. At heart I am still a kid who has loads to do still.”
While one hears about another sequel of Apne that is likely to bring three generations of Deols together, and a web series that is also in the offing, Dharmendra would speak none of it. “I cannot talk of my joys when others are in trouble.”
He spent the lockdown tending to plants at his farmhouse. And not that he is spared any criticism. His tweet regarding farmers got trolled. “I did not know a tweet can be so misjudged. I thought all I have earned is love. But such vicious reactions made me doubt my own self. I wonder how my well-meaning thoughts were taken negatively,” he rues. All he hopes is that his love for his land is understood. “Mera dil to Punjab ke kan kan mein basta hai. I thought my love was there for everyone to see.”
“Main bahut jasbaati kism ka aadmi hoon, it’s not money or fame that lasts but love. It stays even after one is gone,” he adds. “All my wishes and prayers are with farmers. My only hope is that that their genuine demands are met by the government and some good news comes from that side,” is this superstar’s only birthday wish!