Did you know Dharmendra converted to Islam to stop Jeetendra and Hema Malini’s marriage and tie the knot with his Dream Girl

The original action hero of Bollywood Dharmendra turns a year older on Saturday. While he’s one of the most respected stars today, the Sholay actor often made news off-screen too. That’s right. Many know of his romance with Hema Malini. However, not many know that like in typical Bollywood romantic dramas, Dharamji too had to face a lot of obstacles before he married the Dream Girl. It was said that love blossomed between the actors a little before Sholay and it seems that the actor paid the assistant directors to go wrong while filming for romantic scenes with his ladylove just so that he could get to romance her in the pretext of retakes.

If this was the scene on the movie sets then off it the couple faced strong opposition from Hema Malini’s mother, who did not approve of her beautiful daughter’s affair with a married actor. In fact, Hema’s parents wished that their girl got hitched to another rising star of those days, Jeetendra. Even though Hema was not keen to tie the knot with Jeetendra, with who she shared a very strong friendship. But the actress’ family convinced her and the Jeetendra too did not oppose despite being in a steady relationship with Shobha Sippy, an air hostess who the actor eventually married.

As stated in an authorised biography by Ram Kamal Mukherjee, titled Hema Malini: Beyond The Dream Girl, Dharmendra almost gate crashed Hema-Jeetendra wedding in Madras and stopped them from getting hitched. Here’s an excerpt:

“Hema, Jeetendra and their families had flown to Madras and the wedding was supposed to happen there. But an evening daily got a whiff of the sensational news and their next issue carried the ‘big story’. It left much of the industry in a state of disbelief but more importantly, it gave Dharmendra a jolt he was clearly unprepared for. Recovering his wits quickly, he rushed to Shobha Sippy’s house – then Jeetendra’s airhostess girlfriend – and the two took the next flight to Madras to take matters into their hands.”

What unfolded next could very well be a scene from a hit Bollywood film…

When they reached Hema’s house in Madras, the scene, ironically, was no less dramatic than a blockbuster. Hema’s father couldn’t contain his rage and almost physically pushed Dharmendra out of the house. ‘Why don’t you get out of my daughter’s life? You are a married man, you can’t marry my daughter,’ he repeatedly yelled. But a pleading, helplessly sentimental and slightly inebriated Dharam could not be budged. Finally, they agreed to let him talk to Hema alone in a room, while everybody else – Hema’s parents, Jeetendra’s parents and the registrar of the marriage bureau – waited outside on tenterhooks.

Inside the room, the two were going through an emotional turmoil of catastrophic proportions. Dharmendra, distraught and on the verge of falling to pieces, kept begging Hema not to make such a ‘big mistake’. Outside, it was Shobha’s turn to give vent to her rage. When a nonchalant Jeetendra announced to Shobha his decision to marry Hema, apparently all hell broke loose.

When Hema finally came out of the room – puffy-eyed and visibly shaken – her voice quivered as she asked everyone if they could wait for a few days. Jeetendra and his parents, livid by now, declared that that was not an option. The marriage had to happen now or never. As everyone waited desperately for an answer, Hema quietly shook her head. The insult was far too much for Jeetendra and he stormed out of the house with his parents.

Dharmendra then converted to Islam became Dilawar Khan and married Hema Malini.

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