She has always been the Dream Girl of Bollywood. Hema Malini who turned 67 this year continues to enthral millions of fans with her magnetic smile. The actress who plays multi roles, that of a Grandmother, a danseuse a politician and an actress, speaks about her journey in Bollywood and her life, summarising that she is happy and content. She says, "I don’t know what the secret is, I am on my journey and take what I get and am happy doing it. I have never sat at home. I have always been busy and dance has been a great support to me. God has been kind to me" she smiles.
Would you have survived as an actress without dance?
Without dance I would have never been Hema Malini, and I am into films and everything. That was the right way. People used to watch me performing and offered me roles. Lot of youngsters would come to my mother and tell her to introduce them to dance. Before 30 is the right age when a girl’s body blends into dance. People have watched me danced so I am promoting new people. We are felicitating artistes every year and promoting some talented budding artistes.
Not many films have classical dances these days?
Very few people are taking interest in this form of dance, but we are trying to promote it. Even in films there’s no classical dance performed. People abroad think that Bollywood dance is Indian dance.
Do you plan to hand over the legacy of your dance to your daughters?
I have taught my daughters all the dance forms. They are dedicated but they have to take over now. I have done so many beautiful roles as Radha and Meera. I have also created the Durga performance for so many years, and in different forms. It can be recreated and I hope it is done every year. I am trying to preserve the culture and I want them to take over and run the institute I have built. I personally think Esha has the capacity to do it. She is very good.
Do you plan to make any dance based shows for television?
Financially it is expensive to create a show. There are so many people sitting in the channel offices who use their own brains. I got fed up now, after trying my best in Sony. They don't want normal shows. Only certain people get to make serials. The channel always has their reasoning and they keep asking us to make changes. After the changes were made, they would continue complaining, saying the serial isn’t doing well. This was because of the changes made, not because my script was bad. After that bitter experience, I decided never to get involved in a show.
What about direction?
You can’t make films now. I Produced Tell Me Oh Khuda last but the director was not good. Now Corporates have taken over and we have to depend on them. Earlier people did films like Sholay when there were no corporates. There were independent producers like Dev Saab, Guru Dutt, Ramesh Sippy. Some people sit and think they are story board heads but they have their own ideas. How can these things work? I don’t know how people are making films. It has become dicey to make a film. Earlier there was one producer and one director. Now we have five producers! I am a very dedicated and competent person but you have to have somebody to back you. How can I direct it?
How do you look back on your journey now?
It has been a wonderful journey, very satisfying. My first ten years of life I spent in Delhi, and because I wanted to become a film star and dancer I shifted to Chennai. With the blessing of God I became a dancer and a star. After that, I shifted to Mumbai, and fell in love. I continued to work, and when you are in love, life is beautiful and work gets better. We decided to get married and then I had children and everything was beautifully weaved. It was not a normal marriage as everyone knows. Those days my mom used to bring heavy Kanjivaram saris and when I wore them all the Punjabi producers wives would make fun of me. It was tough to become a heroine back then, but I didn’t have to struggle much as I was a blessed child. My life has been satisfying and I hope it stays that way till I am alive. Sometimes, I sit back and discuss these things with Dharamji, and he goes into his mode of Sher O Shayari. He writes beautiful couplets. If God ever asks me which phase of my life I would like to relive again it would be tough to choose. Every phase of my life has been beautiful.
Are you in touch with Rekha?
Rekha is always in touch with me. She loves me a lot. She likes me and respects me.
Tell us about Dharamendra?
I am blessed to have him in my life. I didn’t have a regular married life but I was designed to be his wife by the Lord. If I was married somewhere else, I would be sitting doing nothing.
Who is your support in your highs and lows?
My brothers are there. When I feel low I talk to them and they are very close to me. I love them and go to them for advice. Back then, my mother was strict, but my brothers were very supportive.