Dharam Singh Deol won the Filmfare magazine’s new talent award in Punjab and came to Mumbai with starry eyes to follow his dream of becoming an actor. Handsome looks, chiselled body and a flair for acting gave rise to a complete package called Dharmendra who made his debut in Dil Bhi Tera Hum Bhi Tere in 1960. He started getting many films playing the love interest of many top heroines in films like Soorat Aur Seerat, Bandini, Dil Ne Phir Yaad Kiya and many more.
His first action movie was Phool Aur Patthar in 1966 for which he also got nominated for best hero for Filmfare Awards. Later on Mera Gaon Mera Desh established him as an action hero and Dharmendra became the He-Man of India.
Dharmendra was critically acclaimed for films like Anupama and Satyakam while he was loved by the audience for his comic timings in films like Chupke Chupke, Nauker Biwi Ka, making him a versatile actor. People liked his pairing with Sharmila Tagore, but his most successful pairing was with Hema Malini who went on to become his wife. They gave number of hits together including Seeta Aur Geeta and the evergreen Sholay.
Let us take a journey into his pre- He-Man days and explore the black and white era of the ever-handsome Dharmendra!
1. Ya dil ki suno – Anupama (1966)
Playing the role of a writer and teacher, Dharmendra stands tall in front of the rich, not afraid of putting forth his feelings. Sung and composed by Hemant Kumar, this song has the sombre mood with tints of rebellion Main gham ko khushi kaise keh doon, jo kehte hain unko kehne do. The less use of instruments highlights the gravity of Hemant da’s voice as it lingers on in our mind even after the song ends.
2. Mujhe dard-e-dil ka pata na tha – Akashdeep (1965)
The songs of this movie were composed by Chitragupt and lyrics were by Majrooh Sultanpuri. This song is sung by Mohd. Rafi. It portrays the emotions of separation which the hero actually enjoys as they are new to him and are a part of being in love. He even complains that he was doing just fine when he was alone and why did they meet to part again? Chale jaa rahe thhe juda juda mujhe aap kis liye mil gaye.. Dharmendra is seen remembering his lady love Nanda and sees her in almost everything around him. The atmosphere is filled with her memories and love of the hero for his beloved.
3. Mujhko iss raat ki tanhai mein – Dil Bhi Tera Hum Bhi Tere (1960)
This rendition by Mukesh is composed by Kalyanji Anandji. This movie marked Dharmendra’s debut but no one can say that it’s his first. A song filled with sadness, separation; raushani ho na saki dil bhi jalaya maine.. sheer desperation.
4. Yehi hai tamanna – Aapki Parchhaiyaan (1964)
Here’s a peppy number to lift your spirits. Dharmendra is seen in a playful mood interacting with the heroine Supriya Chaudhary. The tune of this Madan Mohan song was later presented to us in a different film many years later. Can you guess which?
5. Ek haseen shaam ko – Dulhan Ek Raat Ki (1967)
The movie stars Dharmendra, Nutan and Rehman. This trio was seen a year earlier in 1966 film Dil ne phir yaad kiya. The song Ek haseen shaam ko is yet another Mohd Rafi special which was a favourite among many during those times and even now.
6. Ab do dilon ki mushkil – Pooja Ke Phool (1964)
Again a Madan Mohan duet sung by Asha Bhosle and Mohd Rafi, it stars Mala Sinha opposite Dharmendra. Enjoy this romantic song.
7. Aaya hai mujhe phir yaad – Devar (1966)
This 1966 film stars Dharmendra and Sharmila Tagore with Shashikala and Deven Varma in prominent roles. The film is based on a short Bengali novel and a remake of a Tamil movie. Just look at the handsome hunk in the “bandhgala” sitting in front of the piano and singing the song of the days bygone.. hum aaj talak bhi na bhoole woh khwaab suhana bachpan ka…
8. Kahin se maut ko lao – Mera Qasoor Kya Hai (1964)
A touching, emotional number by Mohammad Rafi, with some long interludes by Ravi. The soulful song is written by Rajendra Krishan. Dharmendra paired opposite the beautiful Nanda for the first time.
9. Badal jaaye agar mali – Baharein Phir Bhi Aayengi (1966)
This film was produced by Guru Dutt. Initially it starred Guru Dutt himself but the movie had to be reshot with Dharmendra as the lead due to Dutt’s death. It also stars Mala Sinha and Tanuja. The music is by O.P. Nayyar and this title track is sung by Mahendra Kapoor. It is an encouraging song for everyone and carries a strong message of “Life should go on.”
10. Jeet hi lenge baazi hum – Shola aur Shabnam (1961)
What a combination this song has! Music by Khayyam, lyrics by Kaifi Azmi, singers are Lata Mangeskar and Mohd Rafi and it stars Dharmendra. It one of his earlier films when Dharamendra was still a newcomer in the industry.