Why Dharmendra: Not Just A He-Man is a must read?

Dharmendra: Not Just A He-Man has been released by Rupa Publications on the actor’s birthday that fell on December 8. Written by journalist, historian, analyst and critic Rajiv Vijayakar as his second book (after The History Of Indian Film Music in 2010), the hardcover book, available at leading bookstores as well as online (including Amazon), is originally priced at Rs. 500.

Incidentally, Vijayakar’s next, Main Shayar Toh Nahin, on lyricists, and in English, releases next month. The author, who has been in the profession for over 28 years, has also been on the National Awards Jury in 2011 and 2015, and is Content Team member of the Indian Music Experience (, India’s first and interactive digital museum on all music ever heard in India, which is based in Bangalore.

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Dharmendra: Not Just A He-Man encompasses the complete personality of one of India’s most enduring stars, who began in 1960 and is still loved in the country and all over the globe. It discusses his career decade by decade, finds out about his interesting personal and family life, and looks at him as a person, as a colleague and co-star, as an actor and also as a poet.


The star

The floodgates finally opened (in 1966) for a torrent of films that suddenly placed Dharmendra right at the forefront among the big heroes of that era, that is, Dilip Kumar, Dev Anand, Raj Kapoor, Shammi Kapoor, Rajendra Kumar, Sunil Dutt and Raaj Kumar. This was also the last-burst-of-glory phase of Pradeep Kumar, while Manoj Kumar, Shashi Kapoor and Jeetendra had already earned their first hits.

And Dharmendra came up with eight big films in Hindi.

The unrewarded actor

‘I am still very weak at promoting myself. Over fifty of my films ran for 25, 50 or even 100 weeks but I could not extract any juice from that fact either! Par isska mujhe koi dukh nahin, because people loved me a lot and they still do. This is a field in which people forget what you have done. Within five years, the slate is wiped clean. But after fifty years, I still have the people with me.’

The Hema Malini romance

 I had been invited to the premiere of K.A. Abbas’ film Aasmaan Mahal,’ Hema smiled at the memory. ‘I had signed my first film Sapnon Ka Saudagar and word had spread. I had gone with my mommy. Shashi Kapoor and Dharamji were standing together, and when they saw me, they exchanged comments in Punjabi—“Kudi vaddi changi hai!”—that I was a nice-looking girl!’

The Family Man

Expressing pride towards his sons for the upbringing they have acquired and continue to propagate, Dharmendra once said, ‘We are all still learning about life every day. We are all becoming better human beings!’ His voice turned soft as he dwelled on his grandson, Sunny’s son Karan Deol, soon to take his first steps in acting. ‘Uss mein mera khoon hai—he will become something,’ he said.

The professional

Dharmendra asked J.P. Dutta in Punjabi, “Arey yaar, tere naal kinne din shooting kiti (How long did we shoot together)?’”

When Dutta replied, ‘Forty-five days’, the actor explained, ‘Every night I would think, charpai change karni hai, tanga baahar padti hai (I have to change this cot. It is so short that my feet hang out)!’

Dharmendra was so involved and keyed into his character every morning that he would keep forgetting to ask someone to change the bed—for forty-five days.

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