Nickname: 'Garam' Dharam, Dharminder
Birth name: Dharam Singh Deol
Date of Birth: 8 December 1935
Zodiac Sign: Sagittarius
City: Phagwara, Punjab
Marital status: married
Spouse: Hema Malini
Ex-spouse: Prakash Kaur
Children: daughters Esha and Ahana and sons Sunny Deol and Bobby Deol
Occupation: Bollywood actor, Member of Parliament from Bharatiya Janata Party
Debut Film: Railway Platform
Dharam Singh Deol of Phagwara was enthralled with films even when he was a mere child. He frequently journeyed through long distances to view the touring cinema of those days. At the early age of 19, he got married and got employed as a tubewell boring laborer with an American Drilling Company. However, destiny has other things in store for him. He took part in the Filmfare-United Producers competition for new talents was noticed. Then he arrived at Bombay to realize his dream of becoming an actor. Following a screen test, a director recommended a career as a hockey player for him. But producer Arjun Hingorani had confidence in his acting prowess signed him for the lead role in his movie Dil Bhi Tera, Hum Bhi Tere (1960). For this film, he was offered a meager remuneration of Rs 51 as signing amount and was provided a daily breakfast that comprised of tea and two buttered toasts. As luck would have it, even after all these hardships he endured, he was not paid his due at the premiere of the film and the film flopped too.
But failure could not keep him down for long. He slowly but surely climbed up his way at fame and recognition by starring in strong supporting romantic roles heroine-centric films like Bandini and Soorat Aur Seerat (both opposite Nutan) (1963), Anpadh (Mala Sinha) (1962) and Main Bhi Ladki Hoon (Meena Kumari). He got involved in a relationship with Meena Kumari. She vested an interest in his film career, which resulted in a string of films with the two of them starring together. Their film Phool Aur Patthar (1966) was a golden jubilee hit that catapulted him to super-stardom. He played the role of an underworld goon, combining virile, aggressive masculinity with gentleness that won the hearts of his female fans. He was even voted as one of the five best-looking men in the world in the 1960s. He was one of the most successful actors in the genre of action films.
At around the same time, Hrishikesh Mukherjee discovered the sensitive side of Dharmendra's character. In his Anupama (1966), Dharmendra enacted the role of the poor but self-righteous author who encouraged the introverted Anupama (Sharmila Tagore) to come out of her shell. Dharmendra's splendid restrained and natural performance won him accolades.
After gaining success as an actor, Dharmendra ventured into production with a sensitive film like Satyakam (1969) with Hrishikesh Mukherjee as the director. Notwithstanding his overwhelming recital of an idealist observing his dreams fall to pieces after Indian Independence, one of his best ever performances, the film did not fare well. Even under the sway of the current sensation Rajesh Khanna, Dharmendra held his ground with entertaining films like the revenge drama Jeevan Mrityu (1970) and the dacoit saga Mera Gaon Mera Desh (1971).
At about this time, Dharmendra found his future soul mate in the dream girl Hema Malini. His off-screen romance transpired into sizzling on-screen chemistry in several films that he was paired opposite Hema that set the box office ablaze. Films like Tum Haseen Main Jawan, Naya Zamana, Raja Rani, Seeta Aur Geeta, Jugnu and Dost were resounding hits. Sholay (1975) and Chupke Chupke (1975) exposed another aspect of Dharmendra - his panache for humor. Sholay created history and is now a cult Bollywood masala film. The press and public warmly accepted his second marriage to screen goddess Hema and they had two daughters - Esha and Ahana Deol.
Dharmendra succeeded in launching the film careers of both his sons from his first marriage - Sunny Deol with Betaab in 1983 and Bobby Deol with Barsaat in 1995. Funnily, Dharmendra scored a hit as a romantic hero with Naukar Biwi Ka the same as that Sunny made his acting debut as the leading man in Betaab. At first, he opposed his daughter Esha's aspiration to join films but now she has established herself as a leading lady of the Bollywood film industry.
In 1997, Dharmendra received the Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award for his contribution to Indian Cinema over the years.
1. Kis Kis Ki Kismat
Tallest Bollywood Actors