Happy Birthday Dharmendra!

Okay, big day today, and really really big day tomorrow.  But at least tomorrow I won’t feel guilty for sort of combining people, whereas today Dharmendra and Sharmila clearly deserve their very own posts!  So, Dharam-Garam, here are 10 reasons I love you, one for every decade you’ve lived (counting the 9th one you are starting today) plus one to grow on.

1.1. I love you because you really are a village boy, son of the schoolmaster of a tiny village in the Punjab, the only actor I can think of with a real country boy background.

2. I love you because you came to town after winning a talent contest from FilmFare, just like in a movie, and went on to find fame and fortune.

3. I love you because, according to the Meena Kumari bios I’ve read, you were the most decent man in her life, always upfront and above board, and kept coming around and spending time with her even after the end of your relationship.

4. I love you because you were super super sexy back when Meena Kumari discovered you!


5. I love you because you were still sexy almost a decade later.

(Happy Birthday Sharmilaji!  I promise, you’ll get your own post soon)

6. And, let’s be real, you still had something even 40 years later.


7. I love you because, after starting out as more of a chocolate hero, you became an action star, and comedy, and drama!  Every genre, you succeeded in.

8. I love you because you have founded (or co-founded) a great acting family, with Sunny

and Bobby

and Esha

and Abhay all coming after you.


9.  I love you because, how can I say this correctly?  Because you have the kind of personal gravitas that serves as protection for you and your family despite being a part of what should have been the kind of scandal that lowers your family respect for generations to come.

(Although you had help with your co-scandalmaker, who has a lot less gravitas, but even more loveability)


10.  And finally, once and forever, I love you for this, even if you had done nothing else in your career, this would save your place in film history for all time.



2 thoughts on “Happy Birthday Dharmendra!

  1. Was Dh,armendra only discovered in 1966? I thought it had been earlier. That gave him only a few years to establish himself before the industry was struck by the thunderbolt that was Rajesh Khanna.

    As for his founding an acting family, Sunny and Abhay I grant you, and even Bobby, who I think is a good enough actor, but Esha? OK, I guess she was also adequate, but she really didn’t have much of a career did she?

    But what I really wanted to say was that the “scandal” you are so circumspect in mentioning, was actually, just the opposite. Plenty of men had extramarital affairs — and then dumped the “other woman” and went happily on with their wives. In rare cases, they dumped their wives, the mother of their children (at a time when a divorced woman simply had no place in any kind of society), and stayed with the new woman. In maintaining his relationship with both his first wife and his second, he was actually showing respect and even loyalty (sorry) to his wife, and giving a respectable status to Hema in recognizing her as a wife, too, and giving her children the protection of his name and presence. Yes, it’s all very patriarchal, but, for the times, it was about as honorable a thing as he could have done (contrast his behavior with that of Gemini Ganesan, for example — Rekha’s father).


    • Well, sometimes a dynasty is about quantity, not quality 🙂 Anyway, I wanted to make sure his second family wasn’t left out.

      Isn’t it interesting how Dharmendra always managed to establish his own place? Whether it was the era of Shammi, or Rajesh Khanna, or Amitabh, Dharmendra was always uniquely Dharmendra.

      See, that’s why I like Dharmendra! Because he was so classy about it, it became not even a scandal. The original romance, that was a scandal, but he gave a name to his daughters, and protection to both his wives, and so no one even considers discussing it.

      Making this a broader discussion, when I first heard about the famous “second wife” relationships in Indian film, Dharmendra and Salim, I thought of it as shocking and strange. But reading more about it, how it actually works in practice, it sounds the same as what in America would be an amicable divorce. There will always be a bond with your first love and the mother of your children. But maintaining that bond doesn’t mean you can’t fall in love again. And in a lot of ways it is better and healthier to officially have “2 wives” so both those bonds can be respected than in a situation where, post-divorce, the couple cuts all ties.


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