Dharam Singh Deol, known mononymously as Dharmendra, is an Indian film actor, producer, and politician. In 1997, he received the Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award for his contribution to Hindi cinema.
He is one of most successful actors in the history of Indian cinema. One of his most notable roles was in the 1975 film Sholay.
He was a member of the 14th Lok Sabha of India, representing Bikaner constituency in Rajasthan from Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
In 2012, he was awarded India’s third-highest civilian honour Padma Bhushan by the Government of India.
- Full name: Dharam Singh Deol
- Profession: Indian film actor
- Born: 8 December 1935 (age 84 years), Nasrali, India
- Height: 1.78 m
- Spouse: Hema Malini (m. 1979), Parkash Kaur (m. 1954)
- Children: Sunny Deol, Bobby Deol, Esha Deol, Vijeta Deol, Ahana Deol, Ajeita Deol
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Dharmendra was born on 8 December 1935 in Nasrali, a village in Ludhiana district, Punjab, India. To Kewal Kishan Singh Deol and Satwant Kaur in a Punjabi Jat Sikh family, His ancestral village is Dangon, near Pakhowal Tehsil Raikot, Ludhiana.
He spent his early life in the village of Sahnewal and studied at Government Senior Secondary School at Lalton Kalan, Ludhiana, where his father was the village school’s headmaster.
He did his intermediate studies at Ramgarhia College, Phagwara in 1952.
Dharmendra won the famous Nationally organised Filmfare magazine’s new talent award and went to Mumbai from Punjab, to work in the movie promised, being the award winner, but the movie was never made.
He later made his debut with Arjun Hingorani’s Dil Bhi Tera Hum Bhi Tere in 1960. He had a supporting role in the film Boy Friend in 1961, and was cast as the romantic interest in several films between 1960 and 1967.
He worked with Nutan in Soorat Aur Seerat (1962), Bandini (1963), Dil Ne Phir Yaad Kiya (1966) and Dulhan Ek Raat Ki (1967), and with Mala Sinha in Anpadh (1962), Pooja Ke Phool (1964), Ankhein (a very big hit) and Baharen Phir Bhi Aayengi, with Nanda in Akashdeep and with Saira Banu in Shaadi and Ayee Milan Ki Bela (1964).
Dharmendra formed a successful pairing with Meena Kumari and shared the screen in 7 films namely Main Bhi Ladki Hoon (1964), Kaajal (1965), Purnima (1965), Phool Aur Patthar (1966), Majhli Didi (1967), Chandan Ka Palna (1967) and Baharon Ki Manzil (1968).
He had a solo hero role in Phool Aur Patthar (1966), which was his first action film. It has been speculated for a long time that Meena Kumari and Dharmendra had an intimate relationship in the 1960s.
Meena Kumari helped him to establish himself among the A-listers of that time. Phool Aur Paththar became the highest-grossing film of 1966 and Dharmendra received his first Filmfare nomination for Best Actor. His performance in Anupama was critically acclaimed.
He was given a souvenir at the 14th National Film Awards in recognition of his performance in the film. He did romantic roles in films like Aaye Milan Ki Bela, Aaya Sawan Jhoomke, Mere Humdum Mere Dost, Pyaar Hi Pyaar and Jeevan Mrityu.
He did suspense thrillers like Shikar, Blackmail, Kab Kyun Aur Kahan and Keemat. He received a Filmfare Best Actor nomination for an action hero role in the 1971 hit film Mera Gaon Mera Desh. Having played romantic as well as action hero parts, he began to be called a versatile actor by 1975.
Dharmendra in his early years
His most successful pairing was with Hema Malini, who went on to become his wife. The couple played together in many films including Raja Jani, Seeta Aur Geeta, Sharafat, Naya Zamana, Patthar Aur Payal, Tum Haseen Main Jawaan, Jugnu, Dost, Charas, Maa, Chacha Bhatija, Azaad and Sholay.
His most notable acting performances include Satyakam with Hrishikesh Mukherjee, and Sholay, which is listed by Indiatimes as one of the “Top 25 must see Bollywood films of all time”.
In 2005, the judges of the 50th annual Filmfare Awards awarded Sholay the special distinction of Filmfare Best Film of 50 years.
Dharmendra went on to star in a number of action films between 1976 and 1984, including Dharam Veer, Charas, Azaad, Katilon Ke Kaatil, Ghazab, Rajput, Bhagawat, Jaani Dost, Dharm Aur Qanoon, Main Intequam Loonga, Jeene Nahi Doonga, Hukumat and Raaj Tilak.
Along with Rajesh Khanna he acted in Tinku, Rajput and Dharm Aur Qanoon, all of which became hits, however their last film in cameo appearance together; Mohabbat Ki Kasam (1986) was a flop.
He worked with Jeetendra in Dharmveer, Samraat, Burning Train, Jaan Hatheli Pe, Kinara, Dharam Karma and Nafrat Ki Aandhi. He also played con man or gangster in Shalimar, Qayamat, Jaan Hatheli Pe, Jhuta Sach, Sitamgar, Professor Pyarelal and Phandebaaz.
He has worked with various directors, each with a different style of film-making. His longest collaboration was with director Arjun Hingorani from 1960 to 1991.
Dil Bhi Tera Hum Bhi Tere was the debut film of Dharmendra as an actor and Arjun’s first directorial venture with Dharmendra as the lead hero.
They worked together in Kab? Kyoon? Aur Kahan?, Kahani Kismat Ki, Khel Khilari Ka, Katilon Ke Kaatil and Kaun Kare Kurbanie where Arjun Hingorani was the producer and the director, and Sultanat and Karishma Kudrat Kaa, produced by Arjun Hingorani.
He worked with director Pramod Chakravorty in Naya Zamana, Dream Girl, Azaad and Jugnu. Dharmendra has played dual roles in many films such as Yakeen (1969) as both the hero and the villain, Samadhi (1972) as father and son, Ghazab (1982) as twin brothers, unrelated identical person in Jhuta Sachch and Jeeo Shaan Se (1997) in triple roles.
Dharmendra has worked with all members of the Kapoor family except for Prithviraj and Kareena Kapoor.
He has periodically made films in his native tongue of Punjabi, starring in Kankan De Ohle (Special Appearance) (1970), Do Sher (1974), Dukh Bhanjan Tera Naam (1974), Teri Meri Ik Jindri (1975), Putt Jattan De (1982) and Qurbani Jatt Di (1990).
Throughout the 1980s and 1990s he continued to appear in many Hindi films in both leading and supporting roles.
Dharmendra in October 2012
In 1997, he received the Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award. While accepting the award from Dilip Kumar and his wife Saira Banu, Dharmendra became emotional and remarked that he had never won any Filmfare award in the Best Actor category despite having worked in so many successful films and nearly a hundred popular movies.
Speaking on this occasion Dilip Kumar commented, “Whenever I get to meet with God Almighty, I will set before Him my only complaint – why did you not make me as handsome as Dharmendra?”.
He experimented with film production; he launched both of his sons in films: Sunny Deol in Betaab (1983) and Bobby Deol in Barsaat (1995) as well as his nephew Abhay Deol in Socha Na Tha (2005).
He was the presenter for his films like Satyakam (1969) and Kab Kyun Aur Kahan (1970). In one of her interviews, actress Preity Zinta has been quoted as saying that Dharmendra is her favourite actor. She recommended him to play her father’s role in Har Pal (2008).
After a four-year hiatus from acting since 2003, he reappeared in films as a character actor in 2007 in Life in a… Metro and Apne; both films were both critically and commercially successful.
In the latter, he appears with both his sons, Sunny and Bobby for the first time. His other release was Johnny Gaddaar.
In 2011, he starred alongside his sons again in Yamla Pagla Deewana, which was released on 14 January 2011.
A sequel, Yamla Pagla Deewana 2, was released in 2013. He appeared with his daughter Esha Deol in his wife (Hema Malini)’s directorial venture, Tell Me O Khuda in 2011. In 2014, he played a double role in the Punjabi film, Double Di Trouble.
In 2011, Dharmendra replaced Sajid Khan as the male judge of the third series of popular reality show India’s Got Talent.
On 29 July 2011, India’s Got Talent aired on Colors with Dharmendra as the new judge and surpassed the opening ratings of the previous two seasons.
In 1983 Deol set up a production company known as Vijayta Films. In its maiden venture Betaab, released in 1983,Vijayta Films launched Sunny Deol as the lead actor.
The movie was the second highest-grossing movie of the year. In 1990 he produced the action film Ghayal, also starring Sunny.
The film won seven Filmfare Awards, including the Best Movie Award. It won the National Film Award for Best Popular Film Providing Wholesome Entertainment.
Dharmendra then launched the career of his younger son, Bobby, in 1995 in Barsaat.
Dharmendra served as a Member of the Indian Parliament (Lok Sabha) representing Bikaner in Rajasthan from 2004 to 2009 on behalf of the Bharatiya Janata Party.
During his election campaign in 2004, he made an offensive remark that he should be elected dictator perpetuo to teach “basic etiquette that democracy requires” for which he was severely criticised.
He rarely attended Parliament when the house was in session, preferring to spend the time shooting for movies or doing farm-work at his farmhouse.