Author Ram Kamal Mukherjee, a former journalist and television serial producer, wrote a coffee table book on Hema Malini before, but beyond being a big fan of the Dream Girl, he also thinks that the evergreen star has a great story to tell – A story of independence, fierceness, love and talent.
Ram Kamal shares, “Hemaji didn’t want a book written on her. That’s her way of saying that she doesn’t deserve a book written on her. She has always been so humble. So, it was very very difficult to convince her to do a book. She told me that since I had already done a coffee-table book on her, and there is one book by Bhavna Somaiya too, she didn’t want one more book on herself. But I was convinced that there has to be a book which tells Hema Malini’s stories, minus the cliched past like her equation with Jeetendra, her marriage with Dharamji etc. Of course, these are a part of the book too, in great detail and we have done full justice to this part of her life, but she has so much more to share. She is much more than the ‘dream girl’. She has turned 69 yesterday, and has been in the industry for fifty years.”
Ram had written a coffee table book on Hema Malini fifteen years back. He says, “My first book ended when she came back to acting with Baghban. So, we had shown how she made a comeback. In that particular year, Hemaji was nominated in the Best Female Actor category with Kajol, Preity Zinta and Rani Mukerji. She was fifty then. It was a huge achievement for an actor in her late fifties to be nominated in this category in a commercial film set up. That was the high point where I ended.”
Ram Kamal Mukherjee also tells us how Hema Malini has opened up like never before. He says, “What happened after the 2015 accident? Hema ji never spoke about that, and how she coped with the accident. She has told her version of what happened that night. How did the accident happen and how did she cope up with the death of an innocent little girl in that accident. How she connected to the victims of that accident. This is the first time in the history of Bollywood biographies that an active prime minister of our country has written a foreword. While we have a foreword from Narendra Modi, we also have an afterword written by filmmaker Ramesh Sippy.”
When asked why is the book called ‘Beyond the Dream Girl’, and Ram says, “Ramesh Sippy has summed this up beautifully. He has said that Hema Malini was launched as a Dream Girl in Sapno Ka Saudagar, but after that, with her own life and her understanding of cinema, she showed the world who the true Hema Malini is. She has never been the bra-burning feminist, but has lived her life by her rules, and worked on her own terms.”
Gulzar has also shared an anecdote in the book. Ram says, “Gulzar sahab has written in the book about how one just has to observe Hemaji’s life and understand what feminism stands for.”
Ram Kamal Mukherjee also talks about how Hema Malini has always worked on her own terms, “While researching on Hema ji, I realised how she has done the maximum number of female-centric title roles. Even recently in her last Hindi release, Ek Thi Rani Aisi Bhi, she portrayed a title role, or even in her Telugu film, Gautamiputra Saptakarni. It was Bala Krishna’s hundredth film”, he adds.
Here he shares how the following five poignant points in the book also shaped Hema Malini’s life in a great way:
1) The birth and death of Sujata: “Not many people know that she was named Sujata and how she was rejected the first time she was on stage. And how that amounted to a kind of depression in her life. She had never spoken about that part of her life – on how she re-emerged as Hema Malini after this part of her life. She was supposed to make a debut with Jayalalithaa in a film, with a parallel role. We all know how big a superstar did Jayalalithaa become, she was almost a goddess. But Hema Malini has spoken about her struggle then.” says Ram.
2) Both the chapters from daughters Esha and Ahana: Ram, who spent a couple of years to write the books, spoke to both Ahana and Esha. He says, “Both the daughters have poured their hearts there. In the last fifteen years, Esha and Ahana got married, and they have their own stories to tell. Esha has never spoken so freely and frankly the way she has spoken in this book. People never talk about these things in the book. Ahana has given her first ever interview in detail about her life and why she constantly refused films that were offered to her. From Dev Anand to Shoojit Sircar wanted to launch her, but she didn’t take it up. And, what went wrong with all those films?”
3) Chapters about her colleagues: Ram also remarks how her colleagues were very important to Hema Malini. He says, “Hemaji has been very candid about her colleagues. She has spoken very freely about her equation with Jeetendra, Shatrughan Sinha and Amitabh Bachchan. She even adds Amitabhji has had a great impact on her career. She has included Dharamji as her colleagues, apart from talking about her personal equation with Dharamji as her husband. Shah Rukh Khan fans will love reading the chapter about how she got him into films, and her equation with King Khan. There is one entire chapter I dedicated to Shah Rukh Khan.”
4) The political journey: Ram Kamal Mukherjee found it a tad difficult to get Hema Malini to talk about politics as she never wanted to join politics herself. He says, “Hemaji is an elected member of parliament from Mathura. She won by six lakh votes. She has spoken about how she didn’t want to be a politician, but how her mother cajoled her to join politics so that she could give back to a society which gave her so much love. And how Vinod Khanna was the one who brought her into politics.”
5) Vinod Khannaji’s last interview: Hema Malini and Vinod Khanna acted in many movies together. Luckily Ram spoke to the late actor in great depth which has also formed a great backbone to the book. He says, “Hema Malini and Vinod Khanna acted together in Khanna’s last film – Ek This Rani Aisi Bhi. Just before his last scene in the film, where he is shown dying, we did an interesting interview where he spoke about Hemaji very candidly. After this, we directly heard of his deteriorating health and finally, he passed away. So that chapter is also very important in the book.”
Hema Malini didn’t hang her boots and retire to maintain a certain image. She continues working as an actor and as a politician. Hema actively participates in her family matters and loves supporting several causes. She also supports art and culture through dance and music.
Ram Kamal Mukherjee’s Beyond the Dream Girl will take you into the world of Hema Malini, and it is now available in a bookstore near you and online on Amazon.