Hema Malini (born 16 October 1948) is an Indian actress, director and producer, Bharatanatyam dancer-choreographer, a politician. Making her acting debut in Sapno Ka Saudagar (1968), she went on to appear in numerous Bollywood films, most notably those with actor and future-husband Dharmendra and with Rajesh Khanna. Malini is regarded as one of the greatest and most influential actresses in the history of Indian cinema. She was initially promoted as "Dream Girl", and in 1977 starred in a film of the same name. During this period, she established herself as one of Hindi cinema's leading actresses, noted for both her comic and dramatic roles, her beauty, and her accomplished classical dancing.
Malini is among the most successful female film stars in the history of Indian cinema. Appearing in over 150 films in a career span of 40 years, she has starred in a large number of successful films, and her performances in both commercial and arthouse cinema, were often recognised. During her career, she has been nominated 11 times for the Filmfare Award for Best Actress, of which she won once in 1972. In 2000, she was presented with the Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award. In the same year, she was honoured with the Padma Shri, the fourth-highest civilian honour, by the Government of India. In 2012, the Sir Padampat Singhania University conferred an Honorary Doctorate on Malini in recognition of her contribution to Indian cinema. She also served as the Chairperson of the National Film Development Corporation. She was awarded the prestigious "SaMaPa Vitasta Award 2006" in Delhi by SaMaPa - "Sopori Academy of Music And Performing Arts" by Music Legend Pandit Bhajan Sopori for her lifetime contribution and service to Indian culture and Dance.
Of late Malini spends most of her time on charitable and social ventures, while making occasional appearances in films. She is a member of India's Bharatiya Janata Party and was nominated member by the party in Rajya Sabha, the upper House of parliament during 2003–2009.
Hema Malini Chakravarthy was born into a Tamil speaking Iyengar Brahmin family in Ammankudi, Tiruchirappalli to V.S. Ramanujam Chakravarthy and Jaya Chakravarthy on 16 October 1948. Her mother was a film producer. Malini was the youngest of the three children and has two brothers. She was not interested in academic studies but enjoyed history, her favourite subject in school. She was educated at Andhra Mahila Sabha in Chennai.She studied at DTEA Mandir Marg till class 10 but did not complete class 10 when she got acting role.
Some of Bollywood's most popular actors like Sanjeev Kumar and Jeetendra have proposed to Hema Malini. In her authorized biography, Hema Malini mentions she almost accepted Jeetendra's proposal, but later backed out. Unable to tolerate the rejection, Sanjeev Kumar was reportedly driven to alcoholism and remained unmarried till his death in 1985.
Hema fell in love with her co-star Dharmendra during the filming of Sholay. She eventually married him in 1980. Before they married, they both converted to Islam, since Dharmendra was married to Prakash Kaur who refused to divorce him. Apart from Sholay, the Dharmendra-Hema pair appeared together in films like Seeta Aur Geeta, Dreamgirl, Charas and The Burning Train. After her marriage she became the step-mother of Sunny Deol and Bobby Deol, both popular actors in Bollywood. She has two daughters with Dharmendra, Esha Deol (born 1981) and Ahana Deol (born 1984). Her elder daughter Esha is a well-known actress in Bollywood who married a diamond merchant Bharat Takhtanj, on 29 June 2012: while her younger daughter Ahana is an aspiring director who worked as an assistant director to Sanjay Leela Bhansali for his film Guzarish (2010).
Hema Malini's niece is actress Madhoo who had starred in films Phool Aur Kaante (1991), Roja (1992) and Annayya (1993).
Hema performed in the song Singara Therukku Selai sung by Seergazhi Govindrajan and L.R.Eshwari as a supporting actor from the 1963 Tamil film Idhu Sathiyam starring S.A.Asokan as the hero. Hema was considered for a Tamil film Venniradai when she was 15 but rejected by director C. V. Sridhar saying that she was too thin. In 1965, she got an opportunity to portray a danseuse in Pandava Vanavasam, a Telugu film. Later Ananthaswamy, a film poducer, offered her a role opposite Raj Kapoor in his film Sapno Ka Saudagar (1968). She was promoted as the dream girl of Bollywood right from that film.
In Johnny Mera Naam (1970), she was cast in a more pivotal role and the film became a blockbuster. She took challenging roles which most of the heroines of the 1960s refused to do. She played the role of a young widow in Andaaz (1971) and in Lal Patthar (1971) she played a character with negative shades. The following year, Hema double-roled with Dharmendra and Sanjeev Kumar in Seeta Aur Geeta. Even after many years the film remains one of the best in her career. The film was a blockbuster and earned her first Filmfare Best Actress Award. Within four years of making her debut, she established herself as one of the leading actresses in Bollywood.
During the mid 70s, her fans started calling her "Dream Girl", an allusion to the movie of the same name where she starred opposite Dharmendra.
A majority of her films released during this period were highly successful; Sanyasi, Dharmatma and Pratigya. Sholay, released in 1975, became a box-office phenomenon, where she played the role of Basanti, an unforgettable role of a talkative girl.
Malini starred in many movies throughout the 1970s and is perhaps best remembered for her glamour, style, and accomplished classical dancing. The Dharmendra-Hema pair had back to back hits from the early 70's like Sharafat, Tum Haseen Main Jawan, Naya Zamana, Raja Jani, Seeta Aur Geeta starring together in 28 movies in all, eventually marrying him in 1980. The pair continued with box office hit movies like Patthar Aur Payal, Dost, Charas, Jugnu, Azaad, Dillagi and Dil Kaa Heera. She also achieved some strong dramatic or comic moments in films like Trishul, Joshila and Khushboo. In the late 1970s she acted in female-centric movies like Kinara (1977) and Meera (1979), directed by Gulzar.
After her marriage she continued to work in films like Kranti, Naseeb, Satte Pe Satta and Vijay Anand's Rajput. Dharmendra & Hema Malini were paired together after marriage in Alibaba Aur 40 Chor, Baghavat, Samraat and Razia Sultan. In 1983 she starred in Andha Kanoon which marked the debut of Tamil actor Rajinikanth in Bollywood. In the film she played the sister of Rajinikanth, seeking revenge for the death of her parents. The following year she acted in K. Balachander's Ek Nai Paheli, a remake of his Tamil film Apoorva Raagangal. She portrayed the role of a classical singer in the film. Her on screen pairing opposite Rajesh Khanna was very popular as they appeared in a number of box-office hits such as Andaaz, Bandish, Prem Nagar, Mehbooba and Kudrat.
She was a part of the hit multi-starrers Baghavat and Raaj Tilak both opposite Dharmendra, and continued to gain success in films focusing on her character like Aandhi Toofan, Durgaa and Ramkali in 1985, Sitapur Ki Geeta in 1987 saw her doing action oriented roles while Ek Chaddar Maili Si (1986), Rihaee and Jamai Raja (1990), saw her playing more matured roles.
Hema also directed a film, Dil Aashna Hai which was a commercial failure and her career tapered off as she chose to concentrate more on her dance commitments and Television serials.
After taking a break from films for a number of years, Hema made a comeback with Baghban (2003). The film had Amitabh Bachchan playing her husband and also earned her a Filmfare Best Actress Award nomination. She also played a cameo in the 2004 film Veer-Zaara. In both films, she played a self-possessed, elderly married woman. In 2011, she directed her second feature film that featured her daughter Esha Deol in the lead role alongside her husband Dharmendra in Tell Me O Khuda which released on Diwali of 2011.
Hema Malini and her husband have been involved in politics, as members of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). She was elected to the Rajya Sabha, the upper house of the Parliament of India, with the support of the Bhratiya Janata Party. She campaigned for the BJP candidate, Vinod Khanna, former Bollywood actor in the 1999 Lok Sabha Elections in Gurdaspur in Punjab. In 2004, Hema Malini joined the Bharatiya Janata Party.
In February 2004, she joined the party (BJP) officially. With her film career less hectic, she has been an active member of the party, attending party meetings and rallies and campaigning for the party through various elections. In March 2010, she was made general secretary of the BJP. In February 2011, it was reported that Hema Malini has been recommended by H.N.Ananth Kumar, party general secretary.
Hema Malini is a trained Bharatanatyam artist. Her daughters are well trained in the same dance form; the three have performed together at charity dance concerts. Malini is also trained in Odissi by Guru Kelucharan Mahapatra. Her refulgent smile eased her portrayal of a wide range of characters ranging from the fiery Narasimha to a graceful Rama in Tulasidas's Ramcharitmanas. In 2007, she performed in Mysore on the eve of Dussera, where she played the roles of Sati, Parvati and Durga. She had performed at the Khajuraho Dance Festival with her daughters.
In 2003, she played the role of Goddess Durga in television serial Jai Mata Ki, directed by Puneet Issar and aired on Star Plus. She then starred in the title roles of twin sisters in the Sahara One serial Kamini Damini. She directed and starred in the television serial Noopur, in which she played the role of a Bharatanatyam dancer. She owned the editorship of New Woman, a Hindi woman's magazine. In 2000 she was appointed as the first-ever woman chairperson of the National Film Development Corporation for three years. She owns a dance school, Natya Vihar Kalakendra.
In 2007, she was signed by Kent, a mineral water purifier system, as its brand ambassador. She is one of the three brand ambassadors of Pothys, a textile showroom in Chennai (the others being Sudha Ragunathan and Trisha Krishnan).
The first biography of Malini, Diva Unveiled-Hema Malini, was written by Ram Kamal Mukherjee and first published in 2005.