I THINK I STILL LOOK TOLERABLE: HEMA MALINI
The veteran actor-MP says that endorsement offers from brands show that people are still willing to watch her at 67
At 67, veteran actor and Member of Parliament (MP), Hema Malini leaves you mesmerised with her beauty and charm. When we recently caught up with her at her residence, she spoke about a dance show in Mumbai that she’s organising in memory of her late mother, Jaya Chakravarthy, on November 15. With the concert, Hema wants “to promote young classical dancers”. Here, she gets talking to us...
How do you look back at your journey in Bollywood?
I have done a lot, and I feel very happy about it. My journey has been without any struggles. I got married at the right time, had children… so everything happened at the right time. But now, people ask me, ‘Why don’t you act?’ I tell them, ‘How do I act?’ I do advertisements. That means that I still look tolerable, and people are ready to watch me. Though I would love to do a film, there are no makers (that I would want to work with). Filmmaking is different today. There is too much money involved. Within two days of a film’s release, it makes multiple crores at the box office. All this was not there earlier. There were also parallel films before, like the ones made by Gulzarji or Hrishikesh Mukherjee (director). I used to feel great that I could do various kinds of films. But today, there are no buyers for parallel cinema.
What is your opinion of the industry today?
The industry is very good, and even now, many nice films are being made, like Bajrangi Bhaijaan. Things have advanced technically. Making films today has become so expensive; we are no less than Hollywood films, and we feel proud about it. But then, there is no place for someone who would want to make a beautiful, low-budget film.
The world addresses you as Dream Girl. How do you feel?
It feels nice. I am able to maintain my looks because of dance. I know I have to perform on stage, so I do my exercises, yoga, etc. I always have something to look forward to. That keeps me going.
What have been the greatest learnings for you?
Discipline is one of the most important things that I have learned. Since I was young when I’d entered the industry, I learned how to respect people across age groups.
How has life changed since you became a politician?
My role as an MP is very demanding. I’m glad I’m getting to learn so much. Politics has been a good transition for me. People say, “Oh, politics is very bad. I don’t want to get into it, politicians are bad, etc.” This kind of approach is not right. When you are out there, you learn so much about your country. Also, I like to serve people.
Both your daughters are dancers. Are they as passionate about the art as you are?
No, they are not. I wish they were (laughs). They have just got married and started a family. So, they are busy settling down.
How does it feel to perform with them on the stage?
It’s a beautiful feeling. I always tell Esha and Ahaana that I really miss the three of us performing together. Hopefully, that will happen soon.
You’re a grandmother now…
Bahut accha lagta hai. Ahaana’s son is just four months old. I’m very fond of children, and being with your own grandson is a very different feeling. I behave like a kid when I’m with him (laughs).
Do you and Dharmendra ever reminisce about the time when you worked together for films?
Unfortunately, I don’t get the time to think about anything. But it feels so good when he e-mails some old photos to me (smiles). After sending them, he calls, and says, “Dekha tumne? Abhi dekho.
Among all the songs that were picturised on you, which ones are your favourites?
There are so many. Mere Naina Sawan Bhadon (Mehbooba; 1976), Humein Tumse Pyar Kitna (Kudrat; 1981), Naam Gum Jayega (Kinara; 1977) and Ae Dil-e-nadaan (Razia Sultan; 1983) are some of them.
Who have been your idols and best friends in the industry?
Since I started my career very young, every director was my guru. My first film was Sapno Ka Saudagar (1968), so Mahesh Kaul taught me a lot. I also learnt from my Abhinetri (1970) director, Subodh Mukherjee. Lekh Tandon, the director of Sharafat (1970), (late) Asit Sen, and the director of Lal Patthar (1971), Sushil Majumdar, Gulzar saab, Vijay Anand and Ramesh Sippy have all been my teachers. Also, working with actors like Raj Kapoor saab, Shammi Kapoor etc was a great learning experience. Then, Dharamji, Manoj Kumar, Rajesh Khanna, Jitendra, Shashi Kapoor were the