‘Marriages are made in heaven’ goes the famous axiom. In today’s scenario how much the axiom holds sense is debatable but in case of Bollywood’s most striking couple ‘He Man’ Dharmendra and ‘Dream Girl’ Hema Malini the axiom suits to a perfect ‘T’ because their union seemed impossible and the path to their marriage was filled with umpteen hurdles. However as the axiom goes they were destined to marry, hence the duo triumphed over the thorny trails of every opposition and got married.
The untold First encounter of Dharmendra and Hema Malini Few are aware about the first meeting of the duo. While there are several stories on Internet suggesting the two fell in love during the making of TUM HASEEN MAIN JAWAAN very little information is available when the duo actually met.
In an interview published in Cine Blitz, a leading Bollywood magazine, Hema Malini has disclosed the secret. Recalling her first encounter with Dharmendra, she said, “TUM HASEEN MAIN JAWAAN was shot in the 1969 while I met Dharamji way back in 1965 at the premier of K.A. Abbas’s AASMAAN MAHAL featuring Prithviraj Kapoor. Since I was signed by produced B Ananthaswami for his movie SAPNO KA SAUDAGAR opposite Raj Kapoor hence B Ananthaswamiji had invited me to attend the premiere as he wished to introduce me to the Bollywood’s distinguished personalities.” She continues, “The premier was attended by the who’s who of the film industry as both K.A. Abbas and Prithviraj Kapoor were revered by the industry folks. One among them was Dharmji.”
Reminiscing her first reaction on watching Dharmendra she said, “I vividly remember Dharmji was wearing a brown suit and was looking like a Greek God. I was bowled over by his debonair persona, rugged handsomeness and humble friendship.” She added, “Watching him within my heart I had decided that, whenever I marry, I will marry Dharmji and none!”
The same magazine had later interviewed Dharmendra and asked his reaction on meeting Hema Malini. He said, “I was stuck by her shy demeanor and her cultured conduct. She had no filmy tantrums and had striking features.” He added, “True I was hypnotized by her stunning beauty and despite being married I had an intense yearning to marry her.”!
Hema Malini avenges her humiliation Readers may wonder if it was the love at first sight for both Dharmendra and Hema Malini then why did it took over a decade for the duo to tie the nuptial knot? Well, there were many reasons. Reason number one was Hema Malini’s adamancy to avenge the humiliation meted out to her by South filmmaker Shridhar who had discarded Hema Malini from his Tamil movie VENNIRADAI criticizing her to be too thin and not a ‘Star Material’.
Hurt by the malicious remark, Hema Malini, who was then just 15 years, had vowed to become a megastar and prove her detractor wrong! Hence though she had a soft corner for Dharmendra since the first encounter yet she never displayed her emotions and only focused on her career.
She achieved her mission quite early in her career. Interestingly Shridhar who had rejected her in the 60’s was compelled to approach Hema Malini for his movie GEHRI CHAAL (1973) when Hema was at the peak of her career. Hema forgave him and did the movie without tantrums. The movie had Jeetendra opposite her and Amitabh Bachchan played her brother’s role. The movie was a hit.
Hema Malini rejects Girish Karnad as his groom When Hema had established herself as the leading actress of Indian cinema, Hema’s parents were anxious about her marriage. Hema’s parent had selected eminent actor and filmmaker Girish Karnad as her groom but Hema declined the choice.
Sanjeev Kumar tries to woo Hema Malini Later renowned actor Sanjeev Kumar, who was the most eligible bachelor of Bollywood in the 70’s, began wooing Hema.
Ramesh Sippy in an interview confirming the fact said, “When I was planning SEETA AUR GEETA, I was in dilemma because it was a woman centric subject and wondered if any establish actor would agree to work. But when I told Haribhai (Pet name of Sanjeev Kumar) that I am making a movie with Hema Malini he straight away gave his nod without even hearing the script!”
Since Sanjeev Kumar was an introvert (in case of women) he hired his friend Jeetentra to persuade Hema to marry him but Hema expressed her denial due to Sanjeev Kumar’s addiction for alcohol.
Dharmendra foil’s Jeetendra and Hema Malini engagement!
Sensing Hema’s dismissal for Sanjeev Kumar, Jeetendra began wooing Hema for himself (Though he was dating Shobha, present wife of Jeetendra). Fortunately Hema’s parents too found Jeetentra, an ideal groom. Hence Hema too gave in with a heavy heart. Readers would be surprised to know that Jeetendra’s parents had even approached Hema’s parent in South and their engagement was on cards!! But Garam Dharam got the news and he informed Shobha about Jeetentra’s misdeed. Shobha created a fuss. To make matters worse Dharmendra too cancelled all his shootings and flew down Chennai to interrupt the ceremony. Eventually the engagement ceremony was called off.
Dharmendra continues to flatter Hema Malini
After disrupting Hema’s engagement with Jeetendra, Dharmendra continued flattering Hema Malini. In an interview he confessed, “It was very difficult to entice Hema because she was a conservative women. She never mingled with others and remained aloof. During lunch she would eat her home made food sitting in a corner.” He adds, “I used to try different gimmicks to get closer to her. During the making of SHOLAY (1975) I even bribed the light man to fiddle with the lighting during our romantic scenes so that I could spend long hours in retakes!”
Eventually during the making PRATIGYA (1975) Hema shed her inhibition and expressed her affection for Dharmendra. Dharmendra recalls, “She was overwhelmed by my crazy dancing steps on the song Main Jat Yamla Pagla Deewana…”
Later the duo dated for five years but postponed marriage as Hema’s father was strictly against their marriage. After his demise the two got married.
The duo weds under Islamic Law
The wedding was a secretive affair because Dharmendra’s wife Prakash Kaur had declined to divorce hence Dharmendra and Hema Malini embraced Islam and cleverly escaped the anti-bigamy laws under the Hindu Marriage Act of 1955. Dharmedra rechristened himself as Dilawar Khan Kewal Krishn and Hema Malini as Aisha Bi R. Chakravarty. The marriage was solemnized by Maulana Qazi Abu Talha Misbahi Faizabadi on 21 August 1979 in Mumbai in accordance with Islamic rite. The Mehr agreed upon was Rs111, 000/-
The marriage was undisclosed for almost a year. Later on May 2, 1980 the duo made their marriage public and the marriage was performed in Iyengar style.
At the time of marriage Dharmendra was 44 years and Hema Malini was 29 years. While Dharmedra’s elder son Sunny Deol was 24 years!
Today 34 years later the two are happily married underling the axiom that ‘Marriages are made truly in heaven!’