One of the finest exponents of Indian classical dance, Hema Malini is all set to reprise ‘Jaya Smriti’, an annual dance event held in memory of her late mother, Jaya Chakravarthy. At this event, young talent and veterans from the field of dance are recognised for their achievements. In an exclusive conversation with The Indian Express.com, Hema Malini talks about dance, Dharmendra and Bollywood.
Ques:How did dance happen in your life?
Hema Malini: Dance happened because of my mother Jaya Chakravarthy. She had decided that I would be a dancer even before I was born. There was no sonography and stuff in those days. Still she knew she would give birth to a girl and she had decided that the girl would be named Hema Malini and she would become a dancer.That is the vision she had. So once I was born, right from a very young age she put me into dance and instilled the interest in me. She then started accepting shows left, right and center. I was in Delhi then and as a small girl I started performing. That is how I got interested.
Ques:Were you ever nervous in your early days while performing on stage?
Hema Malini: I used to be totally nervous and used to make so many mistakes. After every mistake, I would look at my mother who would shout at me. She was strict but she trained me well in dance and taught me how to be smart enough to correct a mistake on stage when it happens.
Ques:What new will we get to see in ‘Jaya Smriti’ this time?
Hema Malini: It’s a new set of artistes who will be performing. Young girls who will be performing classical dance whether it is Bharat Natyam, Odissi, Kuchipudi or Kathak. It will only be classical dance.
Ques: Don’t you think there are less takers for classical dance today?
Hema Malini: Yes. Today there are only 1/4th who are interested in pursuing classical dance forms. The rest are into Bollywood. The ratio is not even. It is very difficult to sustain the interest in classical dance. That is why it is necessary to preserve these classical dance forms which are ours. I am doing my bit and there are other artists like me too who are inviting youngsters to perform.
Ques: Will you get into teaching dance as well?
Hema Malini: I am not a good teacher as I tend to be very strict. At my academy, I have hired a group of expert teachers and everybody will be taught exactly what I want. I also plan to get teachers from south.
Ques: We don’t see you much in Bollywood these days. Why?
Hema Malini: I have done my bit in Bollywood. I will do films only if a good role like Baghban comes my way. There is nothing wrong in doing one good film. I am also blessed in the sense that I can act when I want, dance, spend time with the people of my constituency and also with my family. What else can I ask for.
Ques: Do you like being called a dream girl?
Hema Malini: Why should I not like it? I was introduced as a Dream Girl. So, I will always remain one. I am okay with that.
Ques: Hema-Dharmendra has been the most evergreen pairing both and on and off screen. What’s the magic behind it?
Hema Malini: (Smiles) We came together, acted together, delivered hits and are together. It is all destiny and nothing is planned.
Ques: Dharmendra never won many awards for his performances. Do you think industry was biased towards him when it came to awards?
Hema Malini: Yes, he was not given awards. But public loves him and that is his biggest award. Even if you see me, I never received many awards except for a couple. Today they make a category to give an award. So you have something like a heroine in a negative role and many such awards. This is done so that people come in large numbers to attend the function. Had that been the case during my time, I would have got innumerable awards. For a movie like Lal Patthar, I didn’t get any award because it was a negative role.
Ques:How is your relationship with Rekha today?
Hema Malini: We are very friendly. It’s a different kind of a friendship between us. Not that everyday she comes and sees me. Once in a while we talk and she is always there for me. She is a very sweet girl.
Ques: Will we ever get to see both of you together in a film again?
Hema Malini: We did Sadiyaan together. Ab film karke kya karenge? We are over the age.
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Ques: Will you like to direct again?
Hema Malini: I directed two films, Dil Ashna Hai and Tell me O Khuda. The latter I did out of compulsion. But yes, if I get a chance again, I would like to direct. I am very good at it.
Ques: Any film that you liked in recent times?
Hema Malini: I loved Bhajrangi Bhaijaan.
Ques: Which young actor and actress do you find the most talented in today’s times?