| Veteran actor Dharmendra in Bhubaneswar on Sunday. Telegraph picture |
We know him as the He-Man of Bollywood, but up close, yesteryear movie star Dharmendra is an affectionate Yamla Pagla Jat. Hundreds gathered to get a glimpse of Sholay’s unforgettable Veeru at KIIT auditorium today where he was a special guest. Following incessant requests, he obliged his fans by presenting a spontaneous version of his ‘mausi’ dialogue from the blockbuster. In a candid conversation with The Telegraph, the versatile actor-turned-politician and filmmaker spoke about his first visit to the state, films, social issues and more.
This is your first visit to Odisha. How has the experience been?
There is a great level of enthusiasm in people here that makes me feel at home. I repent not having found time to come here before. I wish I had come earlier! People here are full of love, innocence, softness. I would like to come here again and again.
Today hundreds gathered to see you and gave you a standing ovation. What do you think has kept your following intact for over five decades?
It is the love of my fans that keeps me going. I have been lucky that way. I have always received affection from people everywhere. It has to be those great people I have worked with who have helped me leave a mark in people’s hearts. I would not mind if my popularity declines but I want to be remembered with love.
What is your opinion about Hindi films today?
I think there are some good movies being made even now. But it is true that obscenity and insensible action has taken over creativity. Censors should be stricter. I wish films such as Satyakam or Bandini were made today. People would definitely watch.
How do you balance time between films and politics?
I have always believed in being sincere in whatever I do. So, I take one thing at a time. Moreover, when you love to do something, you always find time for it. It is time for the younger generation in films. I am hanging around because I love acting!
What is keeping you busy right now?
My sons Sunny and Bobby and I are busy shooting for Yamla Pagla Deewana II. It will be up for release in a couple of months. This time it is more fun and more thrills. Soon after we all will be shooting for our next venture Cheers.
Will you be ever seen in an Odia film?
Why not! If I get a role that would create an impact onsociety I will be glad to. I want to do a character that is realistic. I love to win hearts and I’m good at it. (Winks)
Your take on Indian society today?
It is sad whatever is happening everyday with our daughters and sisters. Crime rate is only growing. I feel education is the key solution. Another matter that worries me is the addiction spree among the youth. Parents need to take good care of kids but also be strict at times because that is another form of love. I feel we are forgetting that we are blessed to be a democratic society and there should be more public participation.