By Subhash K Jha
MUMBAI: He was the first he-man of Hindi cinema. His chiselled physique sent women swooning. Now Dharmendra, who turned 78 this month, has hit the gym big-time again. The idea is to make all the three Deol men—papa Dharam and sons Sunny, Bobby– equally fit at the same time.
Says Dharamji, “I’ve always been physique conscious. I was known as the first hero to go shirtless. With me the paunch went out of style. When I went bare-chested in Phool Aur Pathar it wasn’t fashionable to show your physique on screen. I had the body, so I showed it. Now, of course a great physique is a given for stardom.”
While the scion of the Deol family has been hitting the gym regularly, elder son Sunny Deol too is very health-conscious. It’s the younger son Bobby who is lethargic about physical fitness.
Dharamji has been urging Bobby to become a regular at the gym, so that the two of them would be physically well-matched together when they begin shooting for their film together next year.
Informs Dharamji, “It’s a film titled Cheers. Sangeeth Sivan, who has just directed Yamal Pagla Deewana 2 with me, Sunny and Bobby would be directing Cheers with me and Bobby on the lead. It’s a father-son story with a lot of dramatic conflict. The son feels he has been neglected by his father. There’s a lot of emotional give-and-take in the script.”
Elements from his real-life relationship with his sons would be taken in Cheers. However, Yamal Pagla Deewana 2 is an out-and-out escapist fare with no bearing to real life.
Says Dharamji, “It’s a completely mad film. Sunny, Bobby and I had great fun shooting it in London. We had to make sure that the sequel went ahead of the first film. The characters are the same. But the plot is completely different.”
During the three months that the Deols shot for Yamla Pagla Deewana 2 in London there were four birthday celebrations.
Says Dharamji joyously, “It was like a never-ending party. The film’s director Sangeeth Sivan celebrated his birthday. So did the film’s cinematographer Neha (who’s the first female cinematographer in Hindi cinema), then my son Sunny and finally me…we all had our birthdays during the shooting in London. I’ve come back feeling very positive about the film. We worked like a family. For me as well as my sons, it’s very important to feel at home when working. Otherwise we tend to get distracted and uncomfortable. So many directors who have worked with us have gone on to make it big with other banners. We wish them all the best. For us the people we work with are precious.”
Dharamji says he feels he’s just starting out at 78. “There’s so much I want to do, so many things remain to be done. Fortunately my children are all settled down. Even Esha got married and is happy with her husband. I couldn’t ask for more in life.”