Dharmendra: We Deols are actors, not stars
Adjusting to the new norms of the film industry, Dharmendra talks about attuning to the concept of promotions and how fans adulation has kept him relevant even after almost 60 years
After spending almost six decades in the Indian film industry, what keeps you motivated?
Acting has never been a profession for me. I still feel like a kid in the candy shop, and the child in me reminds me of the journey that I have made to reach where I am today. I never worked for any awards. I only wanted to be loved and admired. Acting is like my mehbooba [girlfriend], sometimes she gets miffed with me and then I convince her and vice versa [laughs]. The only force that drives me even today is the love and support of the people. I am thankful to them that even after almost 60 years in the industry they have not thrown me out of their hearts.
Yamla Pagla Deewana (2011) was a hit, while the sequel didn't pan out as expected. What convinced you to make the third instalment?
We made the sequel in haste. At that time it was a trend to make franchises. We joined the bandwagon and in the process forgot to focus on the core story. In fact, while making the film, I told the team that I wasn't enjoying working on it. However, we have made a conscious effort to conceptualise a good storyline for the third instalment. I went over the story and script several times before giving my nod. I just hope the audience enjoys it.
A still from Yamala Pagla Deewana 3
While in the comedy space, your character seems flirtatious in Yamla Pagla Deewana. Does romance come easily to you?
I have always been a romantic. People know me as the He-Man [read as Garam Dharam] of the industry, but it's a misconception that he is only physically strong and cannot be romantic. What people don't realise is that nobody can romance like He-Man.
In the past few decades, have you noticed any changes in the industry?
Life has become so fast paced that everyone wants things to happen at the snap of a finger. Nobody has time for a proper meal; people are satisfied with two-minute noodles. This generation has changed and so has their working style. Years ago, movies were about show business, but today, it has become a 'show-off' business. Earlier there was professionalism and warmth. Today, it's all about promotions. Personally, I feel you should promote products, not art. Earlier, we were part of the film industry; sadly it has become a mandi [market]. And films have become a commodity in this market, like soaps and shampoos.
Karan Deol and Sunny Deol
In a profession that demands you to be in the public eye 24/7, you manage to keep yourself at bay. Was it something that you had to work towards?
I cannot blow my own trumpet. I don't feel that it is right and I can't make the effort to do it. We Deols are warm people and have always felt that work should speak for itself. In a way, it is also our weakness. We are actors, not stars. However, we are now learning the art of promotion [laughs]. If it's a good film, people will watch it and I believe that has happened. Yes, the scenario has changed with the corporates coming in. If films were all about commercial value, I would have charged a high fee considering I have given the maximum number of hits, but I have never been money-minded.
Following the trend of remakes and sequels, do you feel that the industry lacks good writers?
No, I don't think so. There is a lot of authenticity in the scripts today. In fact, there is no room for mediocrity and predictability. During our time, predictable films would become blockbusters. The audience loved watching a hero rescue a damsel in distress and defeat the villain. There are so many good scripts being
With your grandson Karan Deol making his debut next year, what do you have to say about the debate on nepotism?
Everyone is attracted towards the film industry and aspires to be a star. I don't think it is necessary to struggle and face hardships to become an actor. I don't find anything wrong if an actor's son wants to become an actor. It's not the child's fault that he hails from a film background. So why do people question the decision of star children? In fact, I feel it's tough for star kids because they have to continuously prove themselves. As for Karan, I've seen a few glimpses of his act and the character is perfect for his debut. He is confident, and I haven't given him any advice because I don't think that works. Ultimately, it is his hard work that will take him places. Sunny is there for him and will do the right thing for his son.
Is there a possibility to see all the three generations together on the big screen?
I would love to share screen space with Karan. We are planning something in the sequel of Apne. Anil Sharma [director] has a few ideas up his sleeves, time will tell. Working with Sunny and Bobby was also never planned, it just fell in place. I believe things will take its course with my grandson too.
Any plans to compile a book of all your sher-o-shayaris?
Not a book. But I want to picturise them [make videos] at my farmhouse. A lot of people have advised me to do something about it, but I've become a little lazy. I need my own time and space to get to it.
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