Dharmendra in 2012
Member of Parliament, Lok Sabha
In office
13 May 2004 – 16 May 2009
Preceded byRameshwar Lal Dudi
Succeeded byArjun Ram Meghwal
Personal details
Dharmendra Kewal Krishan Deol

(1935-12-08) 8 December 1935 (age 87)
Sahnewal, Punjab, British India
(present-day Punjab, India)
NationalityBritish Indian (1935–1947)
Indian (1947–present)
Political partyBharatiya Janata Party
  • Parkash Kaur
    (m. 1954)
  • (m. 1980)
Children6; (including Sunny, Bobby and Esha)
RelativesSee Deol family
Alma materRamgarhia College, Phagwara
Panjab University, Chandigarh
  • Actor
  • politician
AwardsPadma Bhushan (2012)

Dharmendra Kewal Krishan Deol (born 8 December 1935), better known mononymously as Dharmendra, is an Indian actor, producer and politician who is primarily known for his work in Hindi films, as well as in a few Punjabi films. Sometimes nicknamed the He-Man of Bollywood, Dharmendra is widely regarded to be amongst the most handsome Indian actors of his time.[1][2][3][4][5] He received the Padma Bhushan, India's third highest civilian honour, from the Government of India in 2012.[6] Dharmendra has worked in over 300 films in a career spanning over six decades,[7][8] He is considered one of the most successful actors in the history of Hindi Cinema.[9][10]

After making debut in a small film, he first gained popularity in the mid 1960s for films such as Ayee Milan Ki Bela, Kaajal, Phool Aur Patthar, Aaye Din Bahar Ke among others.[11] He then achieved greater stardom in later years, dubbed India's Garam Dharam for several of his on-screen roles in Hindi films. He consistently starred in top grossing Hindi films since late 1960s to 80s, such as Aankhen, Shikar, Aya Sawan Jhoom Ke, Jeevan Mrityu, Tum Haseen Main Jawan, Sharafat, Mera Gaon Mera Desh, Seeta Aur Geeta, Samadhi, Raja Jani, Jugnu, Yaadon Ki Baaraat, Kahani Kismat Ki, Loafer, Dost, Sholay, Pratiggya, Charas, Dharam Veer, Chacha Bhatija, Ram Balram, Kaatilon Ke Kaatil, Ghazab, Naukar Biwi Ka, Ghulami, Hukumat, Insaniyat Ke Dushman, Loha, Aag Hi Aag, Elaan-E-Jung and Tahalka.[12][13][14] He earned critical acclaim for his portrayal of a prison doctor in Bandini, a soldier in Haqeeqat, a writer in Anupama, a righteous man in Satyakam and a professor in Chupke Chupke.[15][16]

Since late 1990s, he began to appear in character roles in several successful and acclaimed films such as Pyaar Kiya To Darna Kya, Life in a... Metro, Apne, Johnny Gaddaar, Yamla Pagla Deewana and Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani.[17][18][19][20]

In 1997, he received the Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award for his contribution to Bollywood. He was a member of the 15th Lok Sabha of India, representing Bikaner constituency in Rajasthan from Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). In 2012, he was awarded India's third-highest civilian honour Padma Bhushan by the Government of India.[21]

Early life

Dharmendra was born as Dharmendra Kewal Krishan Deol[22] in Sahnewal, a village in Ludhiana district, Punjab, British India on 8 December 1935 to Kewal Krishan[22] and Satwant Kaur[23] into a Punjabi Jat family.[24][25][26][27] His ancestral village is Dangon, near Pakhowal Tehsil Raikot, Ludhiana.[28][26]

He spent his early life in the village of Sahnewal and studied at Government Senior Secondary School at Lalton Kalan, Ludhiana, where his father was the village school headmaster.[29] He did his matriculation in Phagwara in 1952.[30] In those days schools of Punjab came under Panjab University, Chandigarh.


Dharmendra was the winner of Filmfare magazine's nationally organised new talent award and went to Mumbai from Punjab, to work in the movie promised, being the award winner, but the movie was never made.[citation needed] He later made his debut with Arjun Hingorani's Dil Bhi Tera Hum Bhi Tere in 1960.[31][32] He had a supporting role in the film Boy Friend in 1961, and was cast as the romantic interest in several films between 1960 and 1967.[citation needed]

He worked with Nutan in Soorat Aur Seerat (1962), Bandini (1963), Dil Ne Phir Yaad Kiya (1966), and Dulhan Ek Raat Ki (1967); with Mala Sinha in Anpadh (1962), Pooja Ke Phool (1964), Baharen Phir Bhi Aayengi (1966), and Ankhen (1968); with Nanda in Akashdeep (1965); and with Saira Banu in Shaadi (1962), Ayee Milan Ki Bela (1964), in which he was the second lead, but with negative portents, and Resham Ki Dori (1974). Dharmendra formed a successful pairing with Meena Kumari and shared the screen in 7 films namely Main Bhi Ladki Hoon (1964), Kaajal (1965), Purnima (1965), Phool Aur Patthar (1966), Majhli Didi (1967), Chandan Ka Palna (1967) and Baharon Ki Manzil (1968).[citation needed] He had a solo hero role in Phool Aur Patthar (1966), which was his first action film. It has been speculated for a long time that Meena Kumari and Dharmendra had an intimate relationship in the 1960s.[33][34][35] Meena Kumari helped him to establish himself among the A-listers of that time.[36] Phool Aur Paththar became the highest-grossing film of 1966 and Dharmendra was nominated for Filmfare Award for Best Actor for the first time.[37] His performance in Anupama was critically acclaimed.[38] He was given a souvenir at the 14th National Film Awards in recognition of his performance in the film.[39] He did romantic roles in films like Aaye Milan Ki Bela, Aaya Sawan Jhoomke, Mere Hamdam Mere Dost, Ishq Par Zor Nahin, Pyar Hi Pyar and Jeevan Mrityu.[citation needed] He did suspense thrillers like Shikar, Blackmail, Kab Kyun Aur Kahan and Keemat. He received a Filmfare Best Actor nomination for an action hero role in the 1971 hit film Mera Gaon Mera Desh.[citation needed] Having played romantic as well as action hero parts, he began to be called a versatile actor by 1975.[citation needed]

Signed photograph of Dharmendra in 1965

His most successful pairing was with Hema Malini, who went on to become his wife.[31] The couple played together in many films including Raja Jani, Seeta Aur Geeta, Sharafat, Naya Zamana, Patthar Aur Payal, Tum Haseen Main Jawaan, Jugnu, Dost, Charas, Maa, Chacha Bhatija, Azaad and Sholay. His most notable acting performances include Satyakam with Hrishikesh Mukherjee,[40] and Sholay, which is listed by Indiatimes as one of the "Top 25 must see Bollywood films of all time". In 2005, the judges of the 50th annual Filmfare Awards awarded Sholay the special distinction of Filmfare Best Film of 50 years.[41]

Dharmendra went on to star in a number of action films between 1976 and 1984, including Dharam Veer, Charas, Azaad, Katilon Ke Kaatil, Ghazab, Rajput, Baghawat, Jaani Dost, Dharm Aur Qanoon, Main Intequam Loonga, Jeene Nahi Doonga, Raaj Tilak and Hukumat. Along with Rajesh Khanna he acted in Tinku, Rajput and Dharm Aur Qanoon, all of which became hits, however their last film in cameo appearance together; Mohabbat Ki Kasam (1986) was a flop.[42] He worked with Jeetendra in Dharmveer, Samraat, Burning Train, Jaan Hatheli Pe, Kinara, Dharam Karma and Nafrat Ki Aandhi. He also played con man or gangster in Shalimar, Qayamat, Jaan Hatheli Pe, Jhuta Sach, Sitamgar, Professor Pyarelal and Phandebaaz.[citation needed] He also was in the 1987 movie Superman.[citation needed]

He has worked with various directors, each with a different style of film-making.[43] His longest collaboration was with director Arjun Hingorani from 1960 to 1991. Dil Bhi Tera Hum Bhi Tere was the debut film of Dharmendra as an actor and Arjun's first directorial venture with Dharmendra as the lead hero.[44][45] They worked together in Kab? Kyoon? Aur Kahan?, Kahani Kismat Ki, Khel Khilari Ka, Katilon Ke Kaatil and Kaun Kare Kurbanie where Arjun Hingorani was the producer and the director, and Sultanat and Karishma Kudrat Kaa, produced by Arjun Hingorani. He worked with director Pramod Chakravorty in Naya Zamana, Dream Girl, Azaad and Jugnu. Dharmendra has played dual roles in many films such as Yakeen (1969) as both the hero and the villain, Samadhi (1972) as father and son, Ghazab (1982) as twin brothers, lookalikes in Jhutha Sach (1984) and Jeeo Shaan Se (1997) in triple roles.[citation needed]

Dharmendra has worked with all members of the Kapoor family except for Prithviraj Kapoor and Kareena Kapoor. He has periodically made films in his native tongue of Punjabi, starring in Kankan De Ohle (Special Appearance) (1970), Do Sher (1974), Dukh Bhanjan Tera Naam (1974), Teri Meri Ik Jindri (1975), Putt Jattan De (1982) and Qurbani Jatt Di (1990). Throughout the 1980s and 1990s he continued to appear in many Hindi films in both leading and supporting roles.[citation needed] In 1997, he received the Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award. While accepting the award from Dilip Kumar and his wife Saira Banu, Dharmendra became emotional and remarked that he had never won the Filmfare Award for Best Actor despite having worked in so many successful films and nearly a hundred popular films.[46] Speaking on this occasion Dilip Kumar commented, "Whenever I get to meet with God Almighty, I will set before Him my only complaint – why did you not make me as handsome as Dharmendra?".[47]

He experimented with film production; he launched both of his sons in films: Sunny Deol in Betaab (1983) and Bobby Deol in Barsaat (1995) as well as his nephew Abhay Deol in Socha Na Tha (2005).[48] He was the presenter for his films like Satyakam (1969) and Kab Kyun Aur Kahan (1970). In one of her interviews, actress Preity Zinta has been quoted as saying that Dharmendra is her favourite actor. She recommended him to play her father's role in Har Pal (2008).[49]

After a four-year hiatus from acting since 2003, he reappeared in films as a character actor in 2007 in Life in a... Metro and Apne; both films were both critically and commercially successful. In the latter, he appears with both his sons, Sunny and Bobby for the first time.[50] His other release was Johnny Gaddaar. In 2011, he starred alongside his sons again in Yamla Pagla Deewana, which was released on 14 January 2011.[citation needed]

A sequel, Yamla Pagla Deewana 2, was released in 2013. He appeared with his daughter Esha Deol in his wife (Hema Malini)'s directorial venture, Tell Me O Khuda in 2011. In 2014, he played a double role in the Punjabi film, Double Di Trouble.[51] In 2018, he appeared in Yamla Pagla Deewana 3.

In 2023, he starred alongside Jaya Bachchan and Shabana Azmi in Karan Johar's romantic comedy family drama Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani. The film grossed over 336.21 crore (US$42 million) worldwide, emerging as the year's sixth highest-grossing Indian film and third highest-grossing Hindi film.[52]

Other works

Political career

Dharmendra served as a Member of the Indian Parliament (Lok Sabha) from Bharatiya Janata Party representing Bikaner in Rajasthan from 2004 to 2009. During his election campaign in 2004, he made an offensive remark that he should be elected dictator perpetuo to teach "basic etiquette that democracy requires" for which he was severely criticised.[53] He rarely attended Parliament when the house was in session, preferring to spend the time shooting for movies or doing farm-work at his farm house, for which he was again widely criticized.[54]

Television career

In 2011, Dharmendra replaced Sajid Khan as the male judge of the third series of popular reality show India's Got Talent.[55]

On 29 July 2011, India's Got Talent aired on Colors TV with Dharmendra as the new judge and surpassed the opening ratings of the previous two seasons.[56]

In 2023, he appeared in his first television acting role as Salim Chisti in the historical series Taj: Divided by Blood which aired on Zee5.

Producing and presenting films

In 1983, Dharmendra set up a production company known as Vijayta Films. In its maiden venture Betaab, released in 1983, Vijayta Films launched Dharmendra's elder son Sunny Deol as the lead actor.[57] The movie was the second highest-grossing movie of the year. In 1990 he produced the action film Ghayal, also starring Sunny. The film won seven Filmfare Awards, including the Filmfare Award for Best Film.[58][59][60] It won the National Film Award for Best Popular Film Providing Wholesome Entertainment. Dharmendra then launched the career of his younger son, Bobby, in 1995 in Barsaat, which was again a Box office hit.[61][62]

Personal life

Dharmendra with his sons, Bobby (on left), Sunny Deol (right hand side)

Dharmendra's first marriage was to Parkash Kaur at the age of 19 in 1954, when he had not entered films.[63] He had two sons from this marriage, Sunny Deol and Bobby Deol, both successful film actors, and two daughters, Vijeeta and Ajeeta. His nephew Abhay Deol is also an actor.

After moving to Bombay and getting into the film business, Dharmendra married Hema Malini, which was mired with controversies at that time, with rumours about Dharmendra and Hema Malini converting to Islam for this marriage, a fact which has been denied by both since then.[64][65] He and Malini starred together in a number of movies in the early 1970s, including Sholay.[66][67] The couple has two daughters, Esha Deol (an actress, born in 1981) and Ahana Deol (an assistant director, born in 1985).

His grandson, Bobby Deol's son, is also named "Dharam", after him.[68]

In 2019, Dharmendra's grandson, Sunny Deol's elder son, Karan Deol, made his debut as an actor with Pal Pal Dil Ke Paas, which was directed by Sunny Deol himself.[69] In 2023, Sunny Deol's younger son, Rajveer Deol, will be making his debut as an actor with Dono, directed by Avnish R. Barjatya, Sooraj R. Barjatya's son.

Dharmendra have a farmhouse in Lonavala hill station, while his sons and wifes lives in Juhu, Mumbai, he lives in the farmhouse.[70]

In 2023, he expressed that, Bollywood neglected his family and never appreciated his family's contribution to the Cinema.[71]


Dharmendra's signed photo
Dharmendra at an event

Dharmendra is widely regarded as one of the greatest actors of Indian cinema.[72][73] He was considered one of the most handsome men in the world during his early career.[74] Widely known as the He Man of Bollywood, in 2022, he was placed in Outlook India's "75 Best Bollywood Actors" list.[75] Rediff.com placed him 10th in its "Top 10 Bollywood Actors of All Time" list.[76]

When Dilip Kumar was giving Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award to Dharmendra, then he commented, "Whenever I get to meet with God Almighty, I will set before him my only complaint – why did you not make me as handsome as Dharmendra?".[77] One of the most successful actor of 1970s and 1980s, Dharmendra appeared in Box Office India's "Top Actors" list eighteen times from 1968 to 1984 and 1987. He topped the list four times (1972-1975).[78]


Main article: Dharmendra filmography

Accolades and honours

Dharmendra being awarded in 2017

Civilian award

Main article: Civilian award

National Film Awards

Main article: National Film Awards

Filmfare Awards

Main article: Filmfare Awards

Year Category Film Result
1965 Best Supporting Actor Ayee Milan Ki Bela Nominated
1967 Best Actor Phool Aur Patthar Nominated
1972 Mera Gaon Mera Desh Nominated
1974 Yaadon Ki Baaraat Nominated
1975 Resham Ki Dori Nominated
1984 Best Comedian Naukar Biwi Ka Nominated
1991 Best Film Ghayal Won
1997 Lifetime Achievement Award Won

Other awards and recognitions


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