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Hema Malini, the Dream Girl of Bollywood

Full Name Hema Malini R. Chakravarthy
Age 74
Birthday October 16, 1948
Birth Sign Libra
Born India
Relationship Married
Height 5′ 6′′
Net Worth $60M
Social Media

Hema Malini is an iconic actress who has captivated audiences for over five decades. Known as the "Dream Girl" of Bollywood, she has appeared in over 150 films and continues to be active in the movie industry today. This blog post will provide an in-depth introduction to Hema Malini, exploring her early life, rise to fame, most notable roles, and impact on Bollywood.

Early Life and Initial Dance Training

Hema Malini was born on October 16, 1948 in the village of Ammankudi in Tamil Nadu, India. She was the youngest of two daughters born to her Tamil Iyengar Brahmin parents. From a very early age of 3, Hema was drawn to the performing arts, especially dance. She began intensive training in the classical Indian dance form of Bharatanatyam under the tutelage of acclaimed gurus including K.J. Sarasa. Hema would practice dance for several hours daily from a young age. This strong foundation in classical dance would later shape her film career.

During her school years, Hema also acted in several plays and became proficient in other dance forms like Kathak and Odissi. Her initial training in the performing arts sparked her interest in pursuing an acting career in films. At age 15, she moved to Chennai to join the film industry.

Rise to Stardom in Hindi Cinema

Hema Malini‘s rise to fame in the 1970s transformed her into a leading star of Bollywood. But her early years were marked by struggle. Although she was a trained dancer, it took several years before she got the opportunity to showcase her dancing on-screen. Her first lead role came in 1968 opposite Raj Kapoor in Sapno Ka Saudagar, which tanked at the box office. However, the movie established Hema as an actress to look out for.

Her first major break was the Johnny Mera Naam in 1970, where she starred opposite Dev Anand. Hema portrayed a glamorous character showcasing both western and Indian sensibilities. The movie was a hit and Hema won her first Filmfare nomination as Best Actress. Another important film in her initial years was Andaz (1971) which featured her in a triangle love story opposite Rajesh Khanna and Shammi Kapoor. Her graceful dance performance to ‘Zindagi Ek Safar Hai Suhana‘ became immensely popular.

But it was Seeta Aur Geeta (1972) that catapulted Hema to fame. Her portrayal of twin sisters with contrasting personalities earned widespread praise. Hema effortlessly switched between the demure Seeta and feisty Geeta on-screen. She won her first Filmfare Best Actress trophy for this double role. 1972 proved to be a breakthrough year as she also starred in hits like Raja Jani and Lal Patthar.

In the mid-70s, Hema cemented her position as the Dream Girl of Bollywood appearing opposite actors like Dharmendra, Shashi Kapoor, and Raaj Kumar. Her on-screen pairing with Dharmendra became especially popular. Some of her memorable films include Joshila (1973), Sholay (1975), and Charas (1976).

Most Iconic On-Screen Roles

Here are some details on the most iconic roles essayed by Hema Malini at the peak of her career in the 1970s:

  • Basanti in Sholay (1975) – As the talkative tangewali, Hema added both humor and heart to this larger-than-life action epic. Her spunky on-screen chemistry with Dharmendra and friendship with Amitabh‘s Jai established Basanti as one of Bollywood‘s most beloved heroines.
  • Geeta in Seeta Aur Geeta (1972) – As the feisty twin separated at birth, Hema got to display great comic timing and her dancing skills especially in the song ‘Naino Mein Sapna.‘ The role showcased her versatility as an actress.
  • Sumita in Charas (1976) – Paired opposite Dharmendra, Hema portrayed an enigmatic woman caught in a drug trade conspiracy. Her performance in this suspense thriller was praised for its complexity.
  • Kamini in Sholay (1975) – As Thakur Baldev Singh‘s daughter-in-law, Hema stood out in the star-studded cast of Sholay in an author-backed role.

Later Career – The 1980s and beyond

While Hema Malini took on fewer films in the 1980s as she focused on raising her daughters, she continued to play strong character roles. She appeared in hits like Naseeb (1981), Satte Pe Satta (1982) and Vijay (1988) opposite actors like Amitabh Bachchan, Rishi Kapoor and Rajesh Khanna.

In the 1990s, Hema Malini expanded her repertoire by directing and producing films like Dil Aashna Hai and Tell Me O Khuda. She also made television appearances and participated in dance tours and concerts.

Even today, Hema Malini‘s cinematic appeal endures. She appeared in the 2000 film Baghban playing Amitabh Bachchan‘s wife. Her most recent film was Shimla Mirchi in 2020. Now in her 70s, Hema Malini continues to act occasionally in character roles while supporting various social causes.

Marriage to Dharmendra and Family

Hema Malini married her frequent co-star Dharmendra in 1980 after starring together in many successful films. The couple has two daughters – Esha Deol, who is an actress, and Ahana Deol, who is a trained Odissi dancer. Esha made her acting debut in a Hindi film directed by her mother.

Hema Malini maintains a busy schedule even today balancing her film work, directional projects, dance tours, political campaigning and family commitments. She continues to inspire many with her dedication to staying active professionally even in her 70s.

Accolades and Awards

Some of the key awards and honors won by Hema Malini over her illustrious career include:

  • Filmfare Award for Best Actress for Seeta Aur Geeta (1972) and Dream Girl (1977)
  • Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award (2000)
  • National Film Award for Best Actress for Seeta Aur Geeta (1972)
  • Padma Shri, India‘s fourth highest civilian honor from the Government of India (2000)
  • Outstanding Contribution to Indian Cinema award at IIFA Awards (2015)
  • NTR National Award from Government of Andhra Pradesh (2017)

She has received several other prestigious awards like the Kalakar Award, Sansui Viewers Choice Award, Stardust Award for Lifetime Achievement, etc. which recognize her stellar contributions on and off-screen.

Philanthropic Endeavors

Apart from acting, Hema Malini is also a dedicated philanthropist. Some of her charitable initiatives include:

  • Hema Malini Foundation to promote and fund performing arts and support women‘s empowerment
  • Fundraising dance concerts for various social causes
  • Supporting treatment for cancer patients and people with disabilities
  • Opening dance training institutes like Natya Vihar Kalakendra to teach and promote classical art forms

She was also appointed as the first Goodwill Ambassador for the Step Up campaign in India. Through her philanthropic work, she aims to support underprivileged sections of society.

Legacy and Enduring Popularity

Hema Malini‘s cinematic legacy and enormous popularity is evident from the countless ways she shaped Hindi cinema:

  • Broke language barriers becoming one of the first actresses to work in Tamil, Telugu, Hindi, and Punjabi films
  • Mainstreamed classical dance in commercial films and created song sequences that became iconic
  • Inspired generations of actresses to enter Bollywood with her success and paved the way for dancers on celluloid
  • Epitomized versatility through author-backed roles of different genres – from potboilers to arthouse cinema
  • Remains active and popular in the movie business even today in her 70s

Even after a career spanning over 50 years, Hema Malini‘s films, songs, and dance performances remain hugely popular among audiences. She continues to inspire newcomers in Bollywood with her lasting success. Hema Malini‘s glorious cinematic journey makes her an unforgettable star with few peers.