After an intense month of election campaigning the hardworking superstar-politician, Hema Malini is back in Mumbai with her family. “My daughter Esha is expecting her second child in June. I’ve had no time to be with her, or to look into the running of my home. It’s been on auto-pilot for a while. Once you become an MP your life becomes a rollercoaster of travel, work and sleepless devotion,” says Hema Malini who is a true-blue politician.
Fiercely devoted to the betterment of her constituency Mathura, she says she would like to come back for one more tenure as MP and then give up politics. “Bass, uske baad , aur nahin.Bahot ho gaya. I need to slow down. Be with my children and grandchildren. But the next five years, if I return to parliament, would be more hectic than my first 5 years. I’d say whatever I learnt in my first 5 years would now be of great use to me,” says the Dream Girl, now far removed from the world of dreams.
“Mathura has changed. We’ve built so many flyovers, cleaned out the city. Made it more tourist-friendly and at the same time made devotees more comfortable. I got a lot of funds for Mathura from outside the constituency. But a lot of the funds came from Yogiji (UP’s CM Yogi Adityanath). He was surprised at how much I wanted to do (for Mathura). He said, ‘I thought you were just a big name from the glamour industry who had come into politics.’ I am glad the perception of film people as glamorous props in politics is changing.”
“Yes, a lot has changed in Mathura. But a lot more needs to be done,” says Hema with a resolute sigh. Speaking of her future plans, she rattles off one astounding scheme after another. “I want to start a metro service connecting all the major temples in Mathura. I want to make the city of Krishna more tourist-friendly. But I also want to ensure that the devotees feel more comfortable when they visit the temples to do their prayers. So I am working towards a separate entrance for devotees and tourists in all the major temples.”
Speaking of tourists, Hemaji feels they bring both a blessing and anxiety to Mathura. “Tourists no doubt mean huge resources to Mathura. And we need to respect that. But they also bring a lot of practical problems with them, such as crowding and littering. We want to ensure the tourists are comfortable. But not at the cost and comfort of the local population.”
For the tourists, an aerodrome is planned by the visionary Dream Girl. “We want a small airport in Mathura where small aircraft with tourists can land instead of landing in NOIDA. We also want to build a shaheed smark for our martyred soldiers who are brought home in coffins in Mathura. It’s heartbreaking. They deserve to be honoured.”
And yes, no acting school in the constituency of the superstar-actress as yet. “But I’ve spoken to producers. They are willing to hold mass auditions in Mathura, so talented aspiring actors can get an opportunity in Hindi cinema.”
The volume of work ahead for Hema Malini, the politician just takes our breath away. She had her husband, the iconic Dharmendra, joining her in Mathura for a day of campaigning. “He was there for just a day. But he was happy. Because his fans were happy. Rarely does he get a chance to interact with such a broad spectrum of fans from one platform. Now, of course, he is busy sharing political advice with Sunny(Deol).”
Hemaji is delighted to have Sunny Deol join the BJP. “Sunny will be an asset. He is as sincere and hardworking as his father. And he is in politics to do good for the people. I am so glad he’s standing for elections from Gurdaspur which was my friend and co-star Vinod Khannaji’s constituency. Now Sunny will carry on Vinodji’s good work in Gurdaspur if he wins. I am confident he will.”
Hemaji says she is saddened to see her friend Shatrughan Sinha leave the Bharatiya Janata Party. “And that too to join a party that has always badmouthed us. Why did he have to do this after so many years of loyalty to the BJP? If Shatruji had any problems with the High Command he should have sat down with Modiji and sorted them out. Conversations are the only solution to any deadlock.”
She lights up when I mention Akshay Kumar’s interview with PM Modiji. “I saw the interview and I instantly warmed up to it. Even I like to speak to Modiji about ordinary things. When I meet him and I ask him how he is he replies, ‘Main kaisa hoon? Jaisa tha waisa hi hoon.’ We quickly get the politics out of the way and then we just chat about life. He loves to talk about things other than politics. So do I.”
What about films? We miss seeing her on screen. “I don’t miss myself on screen. I don’t have the time to do films right now. Maybe later,” she laughs. Incidentally, almost the entire interview was conducted in Hindi, and Hemaji is proud of that. “Politics has done to me what 40 years of acting couldn’t do for me. Made me fluent in Hindi. Now I can give speeches in shuddh hindi