Who would’ve thought that a girl born into a Tamil Iyengar family, in Ammankudi, Tiruchirapalli, Tamil Nadu, would one day rule a million hearts?
Born to V.S. Ramanujam Chakravarthy and Jaya Chakravarthy on 16 October 1948, Hema Malini started her career young, dropping out of 10th grade because she bagged a film.
Debuting with a Bollywood blockbuster film like ‘Sapno Ka Saudagar’, Hema was catapulted into instant stardom. Her defining moment, so to speak, came in 1977, when she starred in a film called ‘Dreamgirl’. This set the tone for the wondrous things to come, and the gorgeous Hema Malini literally became that: a dream girl, for millions of Indians.
Her career was checqured with hits and misses, but she was always appreciated for her beauty, grace and unparalleled elegance. Subsequently, even her comic timing was lauded; a first for a mainstream Bollywood heroine.
Her performances in superhits like ‘Seeta aur Geeta’, ‘Charas’, ‘The Burning Train’, ‘Andaaz’, ‘Lal Patthar’ and many others established her as a formidable actress to reckon with. But what really set her career soaring, was when she starred alongside her future husband Dharmendra, in the 1975 blockbuster hit ‘Sholay’.
Hema Malini’s personal life was nothing short of a film script. Falling in love with a much-married Dharmendra, and her subsequent conversion to Islam to wed him in 1980, is straight out of a Bollywood potboiler.
Malini bore Dharmendra two daughters in Esha and Ahana Deol.
Trailblazing could well be Hema Malini’s middle name, for she continued to work in films, even after marriage (which was quite unusual for an actress at the time).
Her second stint in films began in the early noughts, when she starred alongside her hero of many films, Amitabh Bachchan in ‘Baghban’ (2003). Since then, she has been appreciated for her small but pivotal role in ‘Veer Zaara’, and has since directed her daughter and husband in the 2011 film ‘Tell Me O Khuda’.
Malini has also been a proficient performer in Bharatanatyam, and is the recipient of the prestigious Padma Shri Award. Interestingly, she won the honour the same year that she was awarded with the Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award.
Here’s wishing the multi-faceted actress, dancer, director, entrepreneur, politician and mother a very happy birthday!