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Still a dream girl, not a dream effort

SURESH KOHLI

Hema Malini is gorgeous but this coffee table book on her is certainly not so, though it has a lot of facts on the dream girl and some rare pictures too.


This is a comprehensive coffee table book on the gorgeous actress that everyone associated with it would certainly not be proud of, particularly the amateur author and the famed publishing house. Ram Kamal Mukherjee's Magna publication, "Diva Unveiled", is almost an insult to the most enduring diva of the Hindi screen; an under-rated actress who has excelled even in the most challenging roles; a woman of extraordinary courage and convictions who dared to tread where her so-called bolder colleagues shuddered to walk; a mother who has given growing up space to her daughters, and respected their choice of careers; an individual who knows what she wants, and how to get it - a quality that opened even the political vistas when destiny directed her to play a role on the national scene.

But it is such books that result in killing a concept. . And, unfortunately, behind all such endeavours are some of the most seasoned signatures in mainstream film journalism of the pedestrian kind, a tribe whose total claim to posterity is sustained mediocrity. It is a treasury of contradictions - full ofgrammatical, factual, printing errors and a lot of repetition. There are duplicate references even in the filmography, and the second entry invariably bears a different release date, apart from a different cast.

Rare pictures

Nevertheless some facts as listed in the otherwise well-printed pictorial biography carrying some rare pictures - Hema Malini, which also means goddess Laxmi, was born in Jayeepuram, a small town 15 kilometres from Thirichinapalli on October 16, 1948. She was, however, brought up in Delhi and later in Chennai where she perfected her dancing in Bharatnatayam, Kuchipudi and Mohiniattam styles. When barely 16, she was screen tested and rejected by producer Sridhar. But she was cast by producer Ananthaswamy opposite Raj Kapoor in "Sapnon ka Saudagar", a dream break for the girl who continues to be regarded as the `dream girl'.

And she has proved to be the most enduring Hindi film heroine. From "Sapnon ka Saudagar" (1968) to "Veer Zara" (2004) she has starred in 135 films (117 as a heroine between 1968 and 1992), apart from 15 television serials and programmes. She has had the distinction of working with Dharmendra (31), Jeetendra (13), Amitabh Bachchan (12), Shashi Kapoor (11), Rajesh Khanna (10), Dev Anand and Vinod Khanna (nine each), apart from other heroes of the Hindi screen. She is the only South Indian actress who has never worked in a South Indian language film. And although she has essayed the whole range of typical and offbeat roles available to a Hindi film heroine, she has won just one Filmfare award, for the double-role in "Seeta aur Geeta" (1972).

Although her name was romantically linked with co-stars Sanjeev Kumar, Jeetendra and Girish Karnad, she went on to marry the already married Dharmendra. That was in 1974.The marriage has not only survived, it has generally escaped social sanction as well. Summing up life, Hema Malini has observed: "One doesn't always get what one wants in life. When one is younger, one dreams of a perfect life, which doesn't exist. I didn't get everything that I wanted. But I never gave myself the chance to miss all the things I didn't have... Maybe I expected more of my husband's company. I thought we will be together more often... As a human being I'm bound to have regrets... But he loves me like mad. When I think of his feelings for me, everything seems worth it, even his physical absence. I'm thankful for all that I have. And now I'm in the Rajya Sabha, I want to do more for the country. It's not enough to be a beautiful and admired celebrity. It's important to use that power for social good."

One couldn't agree more with friend Gautam Rajadhyaksha in his description of Hema Malini: "Dignified and glorious, that improves with age like vintage wine. Modest talent, but a face and image of the ideal Indian woman every man would like to take home to." A face, a body, a mind that everyman only fantasises about. And to add, a wonderful, brave woman.

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