1. Dharmendra was introduced by Arjun Hingorani in Dil Bhi Tera Hum Bhi Tere in 1960. The movie bombed. But Dharamji and Hingorani remained friends until the latter’s death. Dharamji worked in most of Hingorani’s films known for their ‘KKK’ titles: Kahani Kismat Ki, Kab Kyon Aur Kahan, Khel Khiladi Ka, and Kaatilon Ke Kaatil.
2. A true loyal friend , there were directors Dharamji never said no to like Arjun Hingorani, O P Ralhan, Manmohan Desai, Ramanand Sagar and Hrishikesh Mukherjee. Hands-down the best Dharmendra performance was in Hrishida’s Satyakam. Hrishida told me his favourite actor was Dharmendra, a fact that irked Hrishida’s other favourite Rajesh Khanna to no end.
3. Dharmendra and one of his favourite co-stars Sharmila Tagore share the same birthday. The two are very fond of each other, having worked together in innumerable films including the three Hrishikesh Mukherjee classics Anupama, Satyakam and Chupke Chupke.
4. Dharmendra never hesitated in doing female-oriented films even when he was a superstar. At the start of his career he did Soorat Aur Seerat with the great Nutan, knowing fully well she had the main role (her husband directed the film). Later Dharamji did Bandini with Nutan where she had the author-backed role .He stood his ground.
5. Dharmendra is one of Bollywood’s most versatile adventurous and underrated actors. He was always open to challenges. In 1983 he signed on the avant-garde director Sai Paranjpye to direct him and Shabana Azmi in a film titled Bichchoo. But the film couldn’t go beyond the first schedule and was shelved. Many years later Dharamji’s son Bobby did a film titled Bichchoo. No relation to the other film.
6. Sholay remains Dharamji’s most popular film. Strangely no one thought of bringing together Dharamji and Mr Bachchan again except Vijay Anand who signed them together for the flop Ram Balram and Hrishikesh Mukherjee who signed them together in comedic roles for Chupke Chupke.
7. During his 60-year career Dharmendra has worked with every possible heroine, from Tarla Mehta (Shola Aur Shabnam) to Tamil Nadu’s Iron Lady Jayalalitha (Izzat) to Suchitra Sen (Mamta). But the weirdest pairing of Dharmendra’s career was in a film called Dushman Devta in 1991 where his love interest was Dimple Kapadia, rumoured to be Dharamji’s son Sunny’s special friend. Dharam Paaji even had a kissing scene with Dimple in this awful film (directed by Rupali ‘Anupama’ Guha’s father Anil Ganguly). The kiss was completely uncalled for. Dharmendra has never kissed any other heroine in his career.