‘I live in people’s heart’

Bollywood’s original he-man Dharmendra is all heart. The man is unbelievably down-to-earth, hungry not for fame, but people’s love. Sreya Basu chats up with the veteran actor in Mumbai

 WHAT MAKES you popular even today?

I have spread as much as love possible in the last 50 years via my films, personal life… I have given only love to whoever I met in life. But I have received a lot more love from people.

What if one morning you wake up to realize that people have stopped loving you?

If people will stop loving me, I will climb on to a tank and then a mausi (aunt) will come and reassure that you people still love me (recalling the famous scene from 1975 blockbuster Sholay).

You are the original he-man of Bollywood. Do you think there will be a second he-man in Hindi films?

Nowadays everyone is a he-man… look at our heroes now; they have reached almost nine-packs these days. But if you have seen Dharam-Veer (1977), you will know that I was not into making packs but pegs.

Unlike your contemporaries, you were never seen running for the top position. Why is that?

Trust me, in the 60s, 70s and 80s, had I wanted, then I won’t have let any hero move forward even by an inch… I had that much caliber. You know this race to the No. 1 position only makes life complex for you; then you tend to concentrate more on numbers than your work. It’s better to be at ease and keep working honestly. I don’t want to be inside people’s brain that keeps comparing continuously, because I live in people’s heart, a place from where no one can throw me out. This is my guarantee. We must learn how to stay in people’s heart… that’s more important than the number race.

Tell us about your upcoming film Yamla Pagla Deewana 2.

We have tried to make it better than the first one (Yamla Pagla Deewana, 2011). I am sure we will succeed in our efforts. As usual me and Bobby (Deol) are playing conmen. In this film I don’t even spare my innocent elder son (Sunny Deol) so much so that in the end he says “Papa, ab baas karo”.

Whose idea was it to make a sequel to Yamla Pagla Deewana?

Now it has become a trend of our film industry that whenever a film becomes a hit, its title becomes a brand. The makers then want to take the franchise forward. Same thing happened with Yamla Pagla Deewana 2. But I won’t take the credit for coming up with the idea, rather the film belongs to us all – writer, director, actors, and the entire crew. Though the idea first strikes the father, but it is when the children start making their contributions, we get a good harvest. Similarly, I had a thought of making a sequel and then Sunny, Bobby and Sangeeth Sivan (director) said “yes” and thus the project was kicked off.

Is it the same story moving forward?

No. It is a completely new story only the three of our characters are same.

Is there a higher comfort level when you are playing father to your real life sons on screen too?

When the camera rolls, we forget how we are in our private lives. For example, during the shooting of Yamla Pagla Deewana 2, I used to become chalu Dharmendra, Bobby aur bhi chalu and Sunny the sharif baccha. And when the camera was turned off, all three of us used to go our way. I used to ask Sunny and Bobby to sit with me and chat up, but they were more interested in talking to people of their age. So I used to go to the park and look out for people of my age. And since I am quite young, many youth used to flock around me. (TWF)