Basanti and Dream Girl are my surnames – Hema Malini

‘D’day for younger daughter Ahana is around the corner. And ‘Dream Girl’ Hema Malini is fully into preparing for the event.

Says the radiant mother of the bride-to-be, “The wedding is on February 2. We’re all so excited. I don’t feel as if I am giving away another daughter in marriage. Instead it feels like two sons are being added to my family. Both Esha and Ahana’s partners are so loving, caring and affectionate towards both me and Dharamji.”

Hema has double reason to celebrate, as Sholay has opened in a new 3D avatar.

Says Hema Malini, “I saw parts of the 3D version. Dharamji has seen the whole film in 3D. We both love what they’ve done. All those bullets flying into the audiences’ faces and horses galloping out of the screen adds to the excitement of the original. See, we have to move on with the times gracefully.”

The yesteryears’ marquee queen who has done two other films Andaz and Seeta Aur Geeta with the Sholay director says, “‘Deam Girl’ and ‘Basanti’ are the two names by which fans call me out. These are almost like my surnames. My mother didn’t allow me to keep our family name ‘Chakravarthy’. But Ananth Swamiji who discovered me for the screen gave me the epithet of ‘Dream Girl’. And that stuck. Later Ramesh Sippy made me play Basanti.And that became the other name I am known by to this day.”

Speaking about the enduring popularity of the Basanti character, Hemaji says, “I guess it’s the chirpiness of the character that appealed to people. I did two other very important films of my career with Ramesh Sippy. But its Sholay’s Basanti that has the most recall value.”

Hema’s role in Ramesh Sippy’s Seeta Aur Geeta is also her political party the BJP’s leader Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s favourite.

Recalls Hema, “When I met Atalji for the first time he wouldn’t look at me. He seemed very embarrassed and uncomfortable. I wondered why until someone from his team told me he’s a big fan of my film Seeta Aur Geeta. Atalji has seen it 25 times.”

It was Atalji’s 89th birthday on December 25. Hema attended the party and recited poetry for her eminent fan which moved him to tears.

Says Hema, “Everybody was reciting poetry for Atalji so I thought why not me? Incidentally, I wore a saree gifted to me by Lataji for Atalji’s birthday. I even clicked a picture of me in the saree and sent it to Lataji. She and I go back a long way. I am very fond of her. Until recently I didn’t know she was so fond of me.”

Hema says it wasn’t easy shooting for Sholay. “We shot in the blistering sun in a place near Bangalore where there were no hotels or rest houses. I was in full make-up with wigs and costume riding on my tonga. It was tough.”

Speaking of her enduring passion for wigs the yesteryear’s box office queen says, “I could never do without wigs. During those days we actresses were required to sport all kinds of hairstyles, from French cuts to curly hairs. For Gulzar’s Meera I needed straight falling hair and for Sholay I needed a more curly look. I couldn’t subject my real hair to all this strain. Hence the wigs. Once I ceased to use wigs I gave them all away…dozens and dozens of my wigs to fans hairdressers and transvestites.”

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