The headlines got it wrong. Dharmendra Deol is not a troll. While pointing out that his wife and BJP MP Hema Malini seemed a bit of an “anaari” (inept) while attempting to use a broom in the Parliament complex as part of the Swachh Bharat campaign, he did not, for example, disrupt an ongoing conversation or derail a debate through abuse. He did, as he admitted later, speak his mind: “Kuchh bhi keh baithta hoon. Kuch bhi ki bhawna ko. Kuchh bhi samajh baithte hain yaar log. TWEET BADSHAH. Kuch bhi kiya… baat jhaadu ki bhi… tauba tauba…. Kabhi na karoonga.” No, Dharmendra is not a troll. He is Tweet Badshah.
First things first. A broom in hand Hema Malini did look a bit out of sorts — no regular sweeping motion, just a sort of awkward stick dance. Most of her colleagues, and her many fans, were likely too polite to point this out. But Dharmendra has a history of telling truth to power, at least when it comes to family. In May, for example, he was more than forthright about son Sunny not being the most politically astute Lok Sabha candidate: “Sunny cannot debate”, “I told Sunny politics is a difficult thing”.
What makes Dharmendra so endearing on social media isn’t just his forthrightness. It is a genuine innocence, a kind of honesty so rare in an age of image consultants, where even non-celebrities carefully curate every word and photograph they put out. In all caps, with ellipses galore, Dharmendra shares across social media platforms his idyllic retired life at his farmhouse. Then there’s the fact that this whole “rural gentleman” thing might just be one big punchline. His apology tweet, after all, has a sarcastic ring, more sorry for offending the “jhaadu” than the person wielding it.