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 Malini, ShabanaAzmi or Asha Parekhji. Sharmilaji 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.