“Jab jab meri guzri kahaani yaad aati hai
Kisi meherbaan ki meherbaani yaad aati hai…” writes Gurbachan Singh praising Dharmendra, the He-man of Bollywood.

Recently I happened to finish yet another Bollywood biography – Dharmendra Not just a He-man by Rajiv Vijaykar -which encapsulates the life of Dharmendra, the yesteryears’ superstar. His looks, his smile is enthralling and I have been his fan all my life.

Despite being in entertainment beat for 7 years, never once did I have an opportunity to meet the He-man. But I have heard about this generous soul. And that’s what Rajiv sir pens in this book. He talks about the rise and fall of the superstar and his steady stardom despite the losses. Rajiv sir takes us into the life of a superstar traversing from reel to real.
The book is an easy read and divided into 3 parts, each part highlighting a different aspect of the actor’s life. There is conviction in Rajiv sir’s words but the dates of the film and the number business sort of turned me off. The book give us a glimpse into the man that Dharmendra is. His strict parental stature, his helping and kind nature, his work ethics, his cordial relationship with co-stars, the truth about his marriage, his closeness to Meena Kumari etc.

I remember an incident that my ex-boss, Harish Sharma, who had been doing a PR for a brand with Dharmendra as an ambassador told me. The event was over and Dharmendra was tired and wanted to leave the venue, Harish sir’s wife and partner Meenakshi ma’am wanted a pic with Dharmendra. Despite the fatigue he happily clicked cheerful pics with ma’am!

And this isn’t the only incident I have to share with you.

My father was a national level boxing champion and he was once chosen to teach the same to Dharmendra. For some reason the film was shelved but a brief meeting with Dharmendra was something that Baba kept telling me about because Dharmendra had been kind and caring towards Baba throughout that meeting.

Rajiv Vijaykar is a senior journalist and I trust his words and research. However, I kept feeling throughout that it is not much meaty stuff in there. The gossips, I felt, were tackled with tact. There was only one chapter about Hema Malini and the most talked about B-town affair. As also his closeness to Meena Kumari wasn’t discussed to satisfaction, in my view. One thing I have seen in most biographies is that it talks about one or two superhits that the celeb has given. Here, I was expecting an entire chapter dedicated to Sholay but it wasn’t mentioned much.

Dharmendra is an enigma and this books sort of falls short to unfurl Dharmendra’s magnanimous personality. But I guess it is I who wanted more out of this book.

Overall, this book is a good read and if you want to delve into the life and personality of Dharmendra, if he is one superstar you have always wanted to read about, then this book is for you.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Publisher: Rupa Publication
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