The original 'action king' of Bollywood, Dharmendra was a lanky lad from Punjab who came to Mumbai with starry eyes and went on to become one of the biggest names in Hindi films with a career spanning over five decades and almost 250 films. Born on December 8, 1935 to headmaster Kewal Kishan Singh Deol and Satwant Kaur in Phagwara, Dharmendra spent his early years in Sahnewal, Ludhiana. Dharmendra was a star struck teenager who devoured film magazines and greatly admired actors such as Motilal and Dilip Kumar. He shifted to Mumbai to pursue his acting dreams and was crowned winner of the Filmfare Talent Contest.
Dharmendra made his B'Town debut in 1960, starring opposite Kumkum in Dil Bhi Tera Hum Bhi Tere and the offers started pouring in. Thereafter he worked in several more black and white romantic films such as Soorat Aur Seerat,Shaadi, Bandini, Ayee Milan Ki Bela and the blockbuster Phool Aur Patthar, which earned the young actor his first Filmfare nomination for 'Best Actor'.
He proved his acting prowess with memorable performances in films such as Anupama and Devar and romanced most leading ladies of the time on screen including Meena Kumari, Saira Banu, Sharmila Tagore, Mumtaz, Asha Parekh, Parveen Babi, Zeenat Aman and Hema Malini. Dharmendra's performance in Hrishikesh Mukherjee's Satyakam is widely considered to be the highlight of his illustrious career, as is the biggest blockbuster in Hindi cinema, Sholay. He shared screen space with Amitabh Bachchan, Sanjeev Kumar and Amjad Khan in Ramesh Sippy's superhit, and is still remembered for his inimitable portrayal of Veeru.
Though he acted alongside many top actresses, Dharmendra's pairing with his future wife Hema Malini in films such as Raja Jaani, Seeta Aur Geeta, Sharafat, Tum Haseen Main Jawan, Dost, Teesri Aankh and 'Sholay' made them B'town's most beloved couple.
Through the 70s and 80s, Dharmendra continued to act in a wide variety of genres and worked with some of the biggest names in B'town such as Bimal Roy, Yash Chopra, Raj Khosla, Ramesh Sippy, Rajkumar Santoshi, Hrishikesh Mukherjee and Basu Chatterjee. His notable films of the time include Pratiggya, Chupke Chupke, Dharam Veer, Dream Girl, Chacha Bhatija, The Burning Train, Naseeb and Hathyar.
In 1983, Dharmendra diversified into production and launched his elder son Sunny Deol in Betaab, which was produced by Vijayta Films. He would go on to launch the successful careers of his younger son Bobby in 'Barsaat' and nephew Abhay Deol in Socha Na Tha under the banner.
After a brief hiatus, Dharmendra returned to B'Town with a pivotal role in the Salman Khan Kajol starrer Pyaar Kiya To Darna Kya (1998) and also made an appearance in the multi starrer Life in a... Metro. That same year, he appeared in Johnny Gaddaar and starred alongside his sons Sunny and Bobby Deol for the first time ever in Apne. The hit combination was repeated in 2011's Yamla Pagla Deewana, which is one of the highest grossing films of the year.
With the sequel to the laugh riot, Yamla Pagla Deewana 2, ready for release and another comedy, Cheers with Bobby, helmed by Sangeeth Sivan in the pipeline, Dharmendra proves that even after five decades in cinedom, he's still not done entertaining his fans.