My First Break: Dharmendra

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My childhood in Phagwara still haunts me. My father was an idealist school teacher and our family that of peasants. The essence of the soil of Punjab was within us. Cinema interested me from my childhood. I remember going to theatres to watch films of my idols #Motilal and Dilip Kumar. Watching them perform, I also desired to become an actor. When I came over to Mumbai in the mid 50s, I was determined to make my career as a leading man in films. Manoj Kumar (Manno) andShashi Kapoor, my beloved contemporaries, were also with me in trying their luck in films. It was very difficult for us to get our breaks and I still have fond memories of three of us sitting on a bench at Filmistan Studios, waiting for our individual breaks. We suffered a lot of humiliation and insults but were determined to go ahead.

At one time, I grew frustrated and wanted to return by Frontier Mail. Manoj Kumar prevented me from returning, asked me to be patient and inspired me as much as he could. Till date I have never forgotten this unique gesture of Manno who later rose to heights as an actor, writer and director of substance with films like “Hariyali Aur Raasta,” “Shaheed” and “Upkar.” Shashi, the perfect gentleman he is even today, proved his worth as an intelligent actor with films like “Dharamputra,” “Prem Patra” and super hit “Jab Jab Phool Khile.” I was fortunate enough to be spotted by no less a director than Bimal Roy in a Filmfare Talent Contest at Mehboob Studios in 1958. I was thrilled. I still remember, Dev Anand who was a top star then, personally invited me to his makeup room, shared his lunch with me and inspired me saying he saw a lot of potential in me.

Courtesy- The Hindu

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Celebrating Cinema

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