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Dharmendra, Sharmila Tagore Turn A Year Older …Chupke Chupke

It’s really hard  if not impossible to imagine  two of  our cinema’s  most good-looking stars as being old.

But reality, as they say, is the Bigg Boss  of  destiny.Dharmendra , the he-man who took off his shirt for Meena  Kumari in  the iconic action film Phool Aur Patthar is 82 today while one of his favourite co-stars Sharmila Tagore is a ripe old 73 today.

To me, these two superstars are ageless. Eternally young and representational of  a generation of stars with whom I shared an actual relationship beyond hello and  how-are-you.

One of my all-time favourite actresses who stars in Amar Prem ,my most favourite Hindi film of all times, I remember how my knees wobbled  and heart palpitated  when I met THESharmila Tagore for the first time.

It was  during the shooting of my dear departed friend Rituparno Ghosh’s murder mysteryShubo Mahurat in  Kolkata.And I  couldn’t believe my luck. I was finally meeting my favourite!  To my chagrin the encounter was set on a rather sticky wicket since I was hosted by the film’s other leading lady Raakhee Gulzar who is like family.Now, anyone  familiar with filmy gossip knows  about the coldwar  between Sharmila and Raakhee that was triggered  off during the making of Yash Chopra’s Daag.

 So there I was trying to sneak an idolatry smile at Sharmilaji while pretending to be focusing fully on the other diva on the sets.And I don’t mean dear Rituparno.I did sneak  a small conversation with her at one point during the cluttured shoot where I told her she was looking absolutely beautiful.

“Oh I look  like a frog,” Sharmilaji had replied

Why a  frog, I wonder to this day.

 Over  the years as I had many conversations with her   I realized Sharmilaji is an extremely  private person. So I don’t ‘know’ her the way  I know Raakheeji,Hema MaliniShabanaAzmi  or Asha ParekhjiSharmilaji doesn’t invite proximity beyond a point. In that sense she is a true star, preserving an aura of enigma to this day .Those priceless dimples give nothing away.

 Dharamji also has dimples and a smile so disarming he can melt your heart even if you are afeelingless jerk(which I hope I am not). I got to know Dharmaji  pretty late. I was always very close to his better-half Hema Malini.

Then she introduced us.

My life was  never the same again. Connecting with Dharamji is akin to bonding with the God of  bonhomie. His positivity is so….ummmm…POSITIVE , he envelopes you  in the warm sunshine  of life’s best most cherishable feelings . The  only other actor who made me feel so good about life is Dev Anand.And Dev Saab was the human embodiment  of  the Eternal Sunshine Of  The Spotless Mind.

 Ditto Dharamji. When he trusts you  he surrenders unconditionally. When he has something to say he gives you a fumbling synopsis. “Baqi aap likh dijiye,” he says with endearing artlessness.

They don’t make stars as goodlooking , giving and as gracious as Dharmendra and SharmilaTagore anymore.

 The two have a lot in common  besides their birth date. Hrishikesh Mukherjee , for one. This star couple  was Hrishida’s favourite. He  told me so  himself.

“Beta, I love all my actors. But Dharmendra among the  men and Sharmila  among the women are special,” Hrishida said  to me once.

I agree, Hrishida.

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