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Career: 1960-
Debut: Dil Bhi Tera Hum Bhi Tere
Forever enshrined as:
Memorable roles: Chupke Chupke, Satyakam, Anupama, Sholay, Phool aur Patthar
Favorite role: Parimal Tripathi in Chupke Chupke

He was once voted ‘the most handsome man in the world’ and it’s easy enough to see why. It’s said women swooned when he took off his shirt in Phool aur Pathar, and it’s easy to understand that as well. But Dharmendra was not just a pretty face, even if the failure of Satyakam hit him badly, and he later went on to become the face of the ‘action hero’. Like Rajesh Khanna after him, Dharmendra had won a talent contest, and come to Bombay to try his luck in films. While he played bit roles and second leads for a long time, it was Phool aur Patthar opposite Meena Kumari that would catapult him to the big league. (Two important films — Bandini and Haqeeqat would come before this, but this was his first solo break, and what’s more, he was the lead.) Alongside, he also acted in films that required him to do more than look good — Anupama, Satyakam, Majhli Didi, etc., would serve to showcase his talent. Soon, he would go on to star in more mainstream commercial cinema as the quintessential hero, opposite his dream girl, Hema Malini.

Why I like Parimal Tripathi: Feeling insecure when his newly-wedded wife sings the praises of her brother-in-law, botany professor Parimal decides to see if he can get the better of his wife’s hero and win a place for himself in her heart. As his wife’s brother cautions him, if he fails, he will be in deeper trouble. But the good professor is game, pulling in not only his wife to help him, but also his best friend to take Parimal’s place while he disguises himself as the new driver. It was a comedy of manners, and Dharmendra exposed a fine talent for comedy, affectionately exposing his new relative’s pedantry and winning his wife’s admiration and respect.

The song: It has to be Aap ke haseen rukh from Bahaarein Phir Bhi Aayegi. I did dither over choosing Ya dil ki suno from Anupama but I decided I like this more. While Dharmendra is the last person you expect to be playing a piano (and he looked very awkward doing so, too), he did a good job of emoting to this beautiful romantic number. Singing to the woman he loves, he’s unaware that her sister believes he’s singing to her. Coupled with Mohammed Rafi’s voice, and Dharmendra’s drop-dead good looks, this is the quintessential romantic ballad.

Courtesy: Anuradha Warrier

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Celebrating Cinema

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