Dharmendra has become the partner and brand ambassador of an upcoming chain of restaurants – Garam Dharam. On parallel track, the He-Man is also building a 30-cottage resort on a 12-acre farm in Lonavala. He has named it ‘Kulli Yaar Di’. Translation: ‘a friend’s house.’
Almost 80 now, Dharmendra says he is entering the hospitality business because he wants to ‘connect’ with his fans, but I wonder. He could have come up with a more plausible reason, or better still, he could have told the truth that he wants to earn more. Because if he couldn’t connect after working in close to 300 films, over a half-a-century period, nothing ever would… least of all, a local resort.
It’s Dharmendra’s privilege to put his money wherever he wants to, for whatever reasons. I am only pointing out the stark irregularity in his reasoning, like any thinking man would. Clearly looking to leverage his fame, Dharmendra is doing everything he possibly can to become richer still.
He let success go to his head very early in life. Having climbed his way up by leaving behind broken hearts and minds, Dharmendra thought he could get away with anything. He was people’s hero and Indians hardly question their heroes. They can do no wrong.
In truth, the Bollywood fraternity is quite hollow. There is apparent glitter, but no substance. The moment Dharmendra tasted success, he abandoned his morals. If he needed to trample upon someone en-route to glory, he did. The most aggravating part about such dated actors is that because they achieved some degree of success in their acting career, they think they are eligible to make judgments in other fields, too.
At best, Dharmendra is an actor, but because he is a crowd puller, he appears as a judge on “India’s Got Talent” on Colours. Is he qualified to spot talent? By virtue of being an actor, is he as good a judge of abilities?
It is a trend in India. A famous actor invariably becomes a politician too. Amitabh Bachchan, Rajesh Khanna, Vinod Khanna are a few examples. Tasting fame and money alone is hardly satisfying to them. These actors want to wield power, too. But power comes with great responsibility, something that Dharmendra found too demanding. He hadn’t joined politics to serve, anyway.
He won the 2004 general elections from Bikaner on a Bharatiya Janata Party ticket, but was mostly absent in parliament sessions. He preferred to spend time shooting for movies and relaxing in his farm house. He has a reputation of a heavy drinker, who often times attended award ceremonies in drunken state. Perhaps, it was during one such time that he said something offensive and vulgar. During campaign, he said: “I should be elected Dictator Perpetuo so that I could teach basic etiquette that democracy requires… He got away with it because he was Dharmendra!
But Dharmendra’s greatest sin remains his insensitive trampling of Meena Kumari, an innocent soul who suffered the indignity of exploitation at his hands. Meena Kumari was a happily married woman when Dharmendra struck a chord.
The handsome Dharmendra impressed her with his charm, which ultimately led to a divorce between Meena Kumari, and her devastated husband, Kamaal Amrohi, the creator of Pakeezah! Dharmendra was married too. He was only 18 when he married Prakash Kaur, but she had no chance with him. Sunny Deol and Bobby Deol are the only remains from that part of his life.
It is also maintained by Bollywood insiders that Dharmendra linked up with Meena Kumari to climb the ladder. Referred to as “The Tragedy Queen”, the “Sahib Biwi aur Ghulam actress started depending on Dharmendra for his support, but the He-Man had different plans. He abandoned Meena Kumari the moment he found his footing in the industry.
Eventually, and for all practical purposes, Meena Kumari died of a broken heart. She couldn’t withstand the break-up and began drinking heavily. She started smoking, too. She was only 40 when her liver failed and she died.
Dharmendra’s subsequent extra-marital affair with Hema Malini was yet another reflection of his self-centeredness. He did not care about anyone. He was still married to Prakash Kaur when Dharmendra and Hema Malini became an item, and it all started during the shooting of ‘Sholay’.
Dharmendra could have aged gracefully, but alas…