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Memorable films

Hema Malini

 

Upperstall profile by: Karan Bali aka TheThirdMan

Hema Malini was the second South Indian actress after Vyjayanthimala to be a major Hindi film star. At her peak she wielded such strong commercial clout that actors like Dev Anand and Rajesh Khanna had to turn to her to give them that much wanted hit. When Dev Anand's films in the 70s particularly those with Zeenat Aman crashed, Ameer Gareeb (1974) with Hema Malini was a hit. When Rajesh Khanna's films started sinking, her Prem Nagar(1974) with him gave him a new lease of life, albeit temporarily.

Ironically her career almost ended before it began. Born on October 16, 1948, her first director CV Sridhar threw her out of a Tamil film he was directing in 1964, saying she had no star appeal! Hema resolved she would make it big where it mattered the most - the world of Hindi cinema. Not only did she do so but when she did, the same Sridhar came back to her for her to star in his Gehri Chaal (1973).

She began her career opposite Raj Kapoor in Mahesh Kaul's Sapnon ka Saudagar (1968) where the posters splashed her picture with the catch phrase - 'Dream girl.' The film flopped but Hema survived. With Waaris (1969) and Johny Mera Naam (1970), Hema became a top star and with Seeta aur Geeta (1972), where she showed splendid comic timing and perfectly played, both the timid Seeta and bindaas Geeta , she became the the top female star in Hindi filmdom. A string of successful films particularly opposite Dharmendra (Raja Jani (1972), Jugnu (1973), Sholay (1975)) followed as Hema's stock only went higher and higher.

Though critics have dismissed her as generally a one-note actress, to be fair to her she did occasionally show that she could give a performance of much depth were she directed properly. As Raaj Kumar's scheming mistress in Lal Patthar (1971) she not only made the audience empathize with her negative character but also stole a march over no less an actress than Raakhee! She dared to convincingly play a young widow in Andaaz (1971) , a role turned down by most actresses. She tried to change her glamorous image by working with Gulzar and did some of her best and perhaps most introspective work in his films - Khushboo (1975), Kinara (1977) and Meera (1979). Re-uniting with Ramesh Sippy after Andaaz and Seeta aur Geeta, she showed her comic timing and versatilty once again in Sholay where she is spot on as the talkative Basanti.

On the personal front, Hema had her share of admirers. Both Jeetendra and Sanjeev Kumar proposed marriage to her but it was Dharmendra who wooed and won her. She flouted convention by becoming his second wife and having children by him but so strong was her morally upright image that she was able to go through the marriage without being slandered by press or public.

After ruling the world of Hindi cinema right through the 1970s, by the early to mid 80s her reign was coming to an end with Rekha having taken her place. She concentrated on her dance performances and turned to playing strong characters with feminist undertones on both film and TV, in fact ,giving a finely modulated performance in Rihaee (1988) as a woman who has an affair when her husband is away and has another man's child.

She has dabbled in other channels of film production having produced Swami (1977), Sharara (1984), Aawargi (1987) and Marg (1992 but unreleased) besides directing Dil Aashna Hai (1991) and Mohini (1994) for Television. She was still seen in the occasional film (Hey Ram (2000)) even as she concentrated on helping elder daughter Esha try to make her mark as an actress.

Hema made a remarkable return to the screen in Ravi Chopra's Baghban (2003) opposite Amitabh Bachchan. The two of them scored heavily playing an elderly couple split up and made to suffer by their inconsiderate children. What's more, she looked absolutely ravishing. Her subsequent films have seen her paired mainly opposite Bachchan only - Veer Zara (2004), Baabul (2006) and the Bhojpuri film Ganga.

Hema Malini has also directed the TV serials Noopur (1990) and Women of India (1996). She has been awarded the Padma Bhushan in 1999 for her contribution to Indian Cinema.





 

 

 

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