Hema Malini turns 75: Milestones of a Legendary Career

Hema Malini turns 75 on October 16. Photo: Publicity Photo 

Hema Malini celebrates her 75th birthday on October 16. The actress, originally publicized as the Dream Girl by her PRO, has proved to be much more than that in films, dance, politics and more. As a stage dancer even before coming to the movies, she continues to dazzle in stage recitals even now. So here is looking at the milestones of her epic career so far.

1948: Hema Malini is born in a Tamil Iyengar family to Jayalakshmi and V.S.R. Chakravarti Iyengar in Srirangam.

1963: Hema does her first film—a small role as dancer in the song Singara therukku selai in the Tamil Idhu Sathiyam. Other small roles in the South follow.

1966: Her Bharatanatyam dance concerts have become very popular even as Hema is in her late teens.

1968: Her first hero—that too in Hindi cinema—is none other than Raj Kapoor in Mahesh Kaul’s Sapnon Ka Saudagar. She is termed by her publicist as the ‘Dream Girl”. The film flops, but Hema and her dances and performances are noticed and the industry welcomes her.

1969: The actress gets her first hit—Waris—co-starring Jeetendra.

1970: Hema surges ahead, with five films, of which four—Sharafat, Tum Haseen Main Jawan, Johny Mera Naam and Abhinetri, all with her in diverse roles—do well. Sharafat is her first release with Dharmendra, while Johny Mera Naam is her first Golden Jubilee runner (50 weeks) and is the highest-ever Hindi grosser until then. In some centres, her other Dharmendra film, Tum Haseen Main Jawan, releases earlier to Sharafat. Hema also gets to showcase her dancing skills in this film and Abhinetri.

1971: Hema has unseated Mumtaz to become the Numero Uno heroine. Of her films this year, however, only Naya Zamana is a hit, and she completes a hat-trick with Dharmendra.

1972: She plays her first double role in Seeta Aur Geeta, a role turned down by Asha Parekh and reportedly Mumtaz, and not only bags her first award—for Filmfare Best Actress—but also the biggest hit of the year again. With Raja Jani, she completes five consecutive super-hits with Dharmendra and they are now the hottest team going. Her talent is also noticed in a meaty, gray role in Lal Patthar.

1973: Hema’s sixth film with Dharmendra—Jugnu—does a Golden Jubilee.

1974: Hema has six hits—Dost, Patthar Aur Payal, Amir Garib, Premnagar, Kasauti and Haath Ki Safai. The first two are her seventh and eighth consecutive jubilee hits with Dharmendra, in whose heart feelings blossom for Hema. Haath Ki Safai marks her singing debut with her duet with Kishore Kumar—Peenewalon ko peene ka bahana chahiye. Kishore later becomes her fave singer and today, as a life member of ISKCON (Indian Society for Krishna Consciousness), she regularly records Lord Krishna devotionals.

1975: Sholay releases, and becomes her career’s and India’s biggest-ever hit. It is Hema’s first of many movies to come in 70 mm, which becomes a fad for a while. In this year, she stars also in Dharmendra’s home production, Pratiggya, and the pair creates a record by now having 10 consecutive hits. All her other films this year—Dulhan, Dharmatma, Sanyasi and Khushboo, also prove successful.

1976: Charas with Dharmendra is Hema’s first film shot abroad and is also a hit. By now, Dharmendra is ardently in love with Hema and this leads to funny incidents abroad when shooting for this film between Hema’s father and him. The law of averages catches up and Dharmendra-Hema get their first flop in the jungle adventure, Maa. But she also got the year’s biggest hit yet again in Dus Numbri. This film sees her in a double role as mother and daughter. And she also plays a dual role in Jaaneman.

1977: This year, Dharam and Hema co-star in their last super-hit, Manmohan Desai’s Chacha Bhatija, while Dream Girl, Hema’s home production, is moderately successful. They co-star in a record four more films: in Hema’s other home production, Swami, as well as in Chhoti Si Baat, they are seen in song-cameos. Hema makes a special appearance in Dharmendra’s Khel Khilari Ka and Dharmendra does the same in Hema’s Kinara.

1978: The Dream Girl stars in Dharmendra’s second home production, Dillagi.

1979: Hema’s home production, Ratnadeep, is produced by her brothers, R. Kannan and R. Jagannath.

Dharmendra and Hema Malini. Photo: Publicity Photo

1980: Finally, Hema and Dharmendra wed on May 2 in a private ceremony in Mumbai and also star in two films, both made in 70mm—The Burning Train and the first Indo-Russian co-production, Alibaba Aur Chalis Chor. The latter is a tepid success in India and a roaring hit in Russia.

1981: Hema makes an appreciated cameo in the Subhash Ghai-directed Dharmendra home production, Krodhi. Their first daughter, Esha Deol, was born on November 2, 1981.

1983: Natyavihar Kalakendra, Hema’s Dance Academy, is launched on April 1.

1985: Hema’s second daughter, Ahana, is born.

1987: Hema takes up the honorary responsibility of editing the woman’s magazine, Meri Saheli.

1990: Hema stars in her first bold film on sexuality, Rihaee, opposite Vinod Khanna and Naseeruddin Shah. She also makes her first TV appearance in Noopur, in which she also makes her directorial debut—the show is centered around the life and struggles of Bharatanatyam dancers.

1992: The actress invites TV actor Shah Rukh Khan to Mumbai and signs him for Dil Aashna Hai, with which she makes her debut as director and officially also as producer. She does not star in the film.

1996: “Dividing time between my daughters, dance, filmmaking, business and this is tough, but not impossible!” Saying this, Hema adds being one more magazine’s editor—of New Woman. Her cousin Madhoo features in Hema’s second directorial, Mohini.

1999: She begins campaigning for Vinod Khanna, who stands as Member of Parliament from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

2000: The actress is appointed as the first female chairperson of the National Film Development Corporation (NFDC) for a term of three years. She also appears in her first TV serial, Jai Mata Ki, and is also awarded the Padma Shri.

2002: Esha makes her acting debut in Koi Mere Dil Se Pooche. It is a proud moment for Hema and Dharmendra.

2003: Hema gives a smash hit performance again in Baghban. She again forms a successful team with Amitabh (Kasauti, Naseeb, Satte Pe Satta et al), this time in middle-aged roles for both, in more films like Veer-Zaara, Baabul and Bbuddah Hoga Terra Baap. Nominated by the then-President, A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, Hema becomes a Rajya Sabha MP, serving until 2009.

2004: Hema Malini officially joins the BJP.

An early photo of Hema Malini. Photo: Publicity Photi

2005: The first of three biographies, Hema Malini: Diva Unveiled, is released.

2010: She becomes the General Secretary of the BJP. In cinema, she turns producer-director again with Tell Me O Khuda, to re-launch the career of Esha. A postal stamp of her is issued by the Government of Norway at the 10th Annual Bollywood Festival.

2014: Hema stands for the Lok Sabha polls from Mathura as MP (Member of Parliament) and wins.

2017: Hema becomes a grandmother for the first time as Esha delivers a daughter in October.

2019: As an MP, Hema is re-elected from Mathura, showing her worth as a representative of her constituency.

2020: As of now her latest release as actress, Shimla Mirchi, hits the screen. By now, she has had over 150 film releases including in South Indian languages, and has been the highest-paid actress for most of her starry career.

2021: Hema is honored with the Indian Film Personality of the Year Award at the 52nd  International Film Festival of India.




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