Dream Girl on her Diamond Jubilee… Hema Malini @ 75

Yogesh Mishra | yogesh@bollywoodtown.in

 Bollywood’s Iconic Dream Girl, Hema Malini, marked a momentous milestone as she gracefully celebrated her 75th birthday on October 16, 2023. Renowned not only for her illustrious acting career but also for her captivating dance performances and impactful foray into politics, the celebration of her Diamond Jubilee was nothing short of extraordinary. In a candid and exclusive interview by Yogesh Mishra, Hema Malini reflects on her remarkable 75-year journey, shares a heartfelt birthday message from her beloved husband, Dharmendra, discusses her emotions surrounding her daughter Esha Deol’s National Film Award, divulges her enduring fitness regimen, and offers a glimpse into her intriguing future plans. In this exclusive conversation, we delve into the life, experiences, and aspirations of a true Bollywood legend who continues to inspire and captivate generations.

First and foremost, belated birthday wishes to you on reaching the magnificent milestone of 75 years! Congratulations! How does it feel to be a ’75-year-young’ Dream Girl?

Well, to be honest, it took my family to remind me that I had hit the grand 75. I was going about my usual routine, working in my constituency, and just being my active self. When they said, “It’s your 75th birthday this year,” I was like, “Oh my God, really?” It’s funny how time flies when you’re busy living life. I believe in keeping myself engaged and not sitting around feeling sorry for myself. If I ever have a day of inactivity, I start to feel restless. So, staying active is the secret to feeling young at heart and keeping those ‘blank’ moments at bay.

Your 75th birthday celebration was truly grand and multi-faceted. Can you tell us whose brilliant idea it was and how the celebrations unfolded?

Well, my life is like a delightful mosaic with three distinct pieces – one as a dancer, one as a actor, and one as a politician. So, for my 75th birthday, I wanted to blend all these aspects into one grand celebration of ‘Hema Malini.’ Prior to my actual birthday, I kicked off the festivities in my constituency, Mathura, with blessings from the Sadhu and Sants from various temples. Later that evening, I rejoiced with my constituency’s people, my political party comrades, and friends in Mathura-Vrindavan. Then, on October 14, I headed to Delhi to celebrate with my fellow parliamentarians and ministers, who have been incredible support in developing my constituency. Finally, on the big day, October 16th, I knew I had to celebrate with my film fraternity, where I have found fame, recognition, and a lifetime of memories. I’ve dedicated over five decades of my life to this industry, and it’s where my heart belongs. I am so grateful to everyone who graced my birthday party; most of those I invited attended. The festivities continued on October 18th with a delightful celebration at home, where my cherished dance troupe performed. Their presence and performance were a memory that warms my heart with the likes of Madhuri, Vidya Balan, Jaya ji, Shabana ji, Padmini Kolapuri, Juhi Chawla, Shilpa Shetty, and many others joining in the fun. Singers like Anup Jalota, Suresh Wadkar, and Sonu Nigam lent their voices to the celebration. Salman Khan graced the event wish Shahrukh Khan could make it too.

Speaking of your 75th birthday, who were the family members and film industry friends that took you by surprise with their enthusiasm?

Well, it was actually my children who spearheaded the idea of a grand celebration for my 75th birthday. They were so excited about it, and many of my friends, as well as my son-in-law, joined in to support this grand idea. When it came to planning the celebration, I must admit, I wasn’t quite sure about the details. But I told them, “If you want to make it grand, go ahead, and I’m all in!” My vision was to celebrate at three different locations, including Delhi.

How did your birthday celebration unfold with ministers and friends from the political arena?

It all began when I discussed the idea with Om Birla ji, the esteemed Speaker of Lok Sabha, who has always been exceptionally kind to me. During our conversation, he inquired about my plans to run for re-election. I mentioned that I was approaching 75, and there’s a constitutional age limit for MPs. However, I assured him that if I remained physically fit, I would consider contesting again. It was heartening to hear that even Yogi Ji (Yogi Adityanath) expressed his support, emphasizing that there was no such constitutional barrier as long as one remained physically capable. The love and support from my constituency, Mathura, are immensely precious to me, and I believe Mathura yearns for my continued service. We celebrated my birthday in Mathura, where I was joined by wonderful friends such as Anurag Thakur, Hardeep Puriji, Piyush Goel ji, and many others from the political landscape.

What are the ongoing development initiatives in Mathura City, and what are the community’s expectations?

The people of Mathura are quite pleased with the transformative changes taking place in the city. These endeavors are filling gaps that have persisted for years. Notably, the redevelopment of the railway station has been a remarkable achievement. The station needed improvement, and we made it a priority to enhance its infrastructure and aesthetics, bringing out the true essence of Mathura. Moreover, we’ve been championing the concept of a ‘Temple City Development,’ which extends beyond the railway station. It’s about enhancing the overall aura of Mathura as a sacred place. The transformation is evident in the newfound beauty of the Mathura station, which now radiates the spirit of the city. Another exciting development is the Meera festival in Mathura. Meera Bai, a revered saint-poetess, spent a significant part of her life in Vrindavan, and her legacy is deeply intertwined with this sacred land. Recognizing the importance of Meera Ji, I proposed the idea of a grand festival in her honor. I shared this vision with our Prime Minister Modi ji, and we both agreed that a Meera festival would be a fitting tribute to her rich legacy. This initiative aims to celebrate and promote the cultural and spiritual significance of Mathura, ensuring it remains a focal point for devotees, scholars, and enthusiasts alike.

Your thoughts & priorities on family life at 75…

Dharam Ji has made a wonderful recovery and is back in India, and yes, he was part of the grand celebration on my 75th birthday. His presence means the world to me, and it’s not just about his physical presence at the party, but the unwavering support he has provided me throughout my life. This morning, he gave me a heartfelt call and shared a special message. He expressed how he has always been the right person for me in life. What truly touched my heart is that he not only allowed me to pursue my dreams but actively encouraged me in every step I took, whether it was my journey into politics, my passion for dance, or any other endeavor. His message was simple yet profound: “Keep doing what you’re doing. It’s because of all these pursuits that you remain so fit.” He emphasized the importance of not giving up and even urged me to pass on this message of determination and persistence to our children. Maintaining my physical health is a priority for my dance, and I diligently engage in daily workouts, especially to keep my knees in good shape. This dedication to my fitness has been a crucial part of my journey to reach 75 with vigor.  But above all, it’s the immense support and love from my family, including my brothers, sisters, sister-in-law, my children, and, of course, Dharam Ji, that have been my rock. Their unwavering support has given me the freedom and strength to keep working and achieving. Without their backing, I wouldn’t have been able to embrace the opportunities and challenges that have come my way over the years. It’s a testament to the power of family support in my life, allowing me to continue my work and contribute to the world.

You have maintained remarkable fitness at your age. Do you have any valuable fitness advice for the younger generation or those who admire you?

Certainly, I’d be delighted to share some fitness tips that have worked for me over the years. First and foremost, it’s crucial to be mindful of your diet and eating habits. Avoid overindulgence and steer clear of excessive consumption of oily and unhealthy foods. Today, people are increasingly health-conscious, and it’s wise to focus on a balanced diet that includes ample vegetables and essential nutrients. Strive for moderation in everything you eat.

Additionally, it’s essential to maintain a healthy lifestyle by being mindful of late-night activities, such as attending overnight parties. While social gatherings are important, excessive late nights can take a toll on your well-being. Ensuring you get sufficient sleep, ideally between 6 to 8 hours, is fundamental. A good night’s rest rejuvenates you for the challenges of the day ahead.

Incorporating yoga and meditation into your daily routine is another key aspect of staying fit. I personally practice morning yoga and meditation, which not only keeps me physically agile but also nurtures mental and emotional well-being.

In essence, the foundation of fitness lies in maintaining a balanced diet, prioritizing proper sleep, and incorporating regular yoga and exercise into your life. These fundamental principles form the cornerstone of a healthy and active lifestyle.

Esha Deol’s outstanding work in the movie “Ek Dua” earned her the prestigious National Film Award. What are your thoughts on her achievement?

Esha played a pivotal role in the creation of this film, not only as an exceptional actress but also as the producer. Her performance in the movie was truly remarkable; she showcased her talents beautifully on screen. It’s incredible to witness her evolution as a fine actress and a skilled artist. “Ek Dua” may be a smaller film, but it carries a profound and meaningful message, and I’m immensely proud of her for receiving this well-deserved award. Esha’s dedication and talent are evident, and I have no doubt that she will continue to excel in her endeavors.

You’ve been honored with numerous awards throughout your illustrious career. Is there a particular award that you still aspire to achieve?

It’s truly heartwarming wherever I go; people show their love and deep respect for me. This, in itself, is more precious to me than any award. Every award I’ve received has been a source of immense pride and I’ve accepted each one with the utmost reverence. Furthermore, I’ve been bestowed with several honorary doctorates by universities as a recognition of my contributions. While I hold a doctorate, I haven’t actively utilized it. Yet, these gestures of respect from various esteemed institutions stand as a testament to the work I’ve dedicated my life to. For me, these acknowledgments are fulfilling and provide all the validation I could ever wish for.

In closing, any cheerful message for your fans and well-wishers?

Remember, never give up! And if you’re feeling unwell, just tell that pesky illness, “Hey, you’re not welcome here! It’s time for you to pack your bags and leave.” After all, you’re a child of God, and it’s your birthright to lead a joyous and beautiful life. Have faith, and trust that the Almighty has your back!!