Who can forget the epic scene from ‘Sholay’ where Veeru (Dharmendra) stands on the top of a water tank drunk and declares that he would jump and die because Basanti (Hema) could not be his. Likening himself the greatest tragic lovers like Romeo, he threatens he’d what they did for their love. “Suicide! Suicide! Suicide!” he screams. All that drama leads to a union between the two.
The real-life love story Dharmendra and Hema Malini had is no less dramatic. When they met, Dharmendra was 44, a married man with two sons. Hema was 29, and one of the most coveted women in the industry. Some of the most prominent actors fell in love with her and yet she chose Dharmendra. To be together, they literally fought the whole world and even changed their faith.
Dharmendra and Hema changed their faith to Islam because Dharmendra’s first wife Prakash did not want to grant him a divorce.
Hema’s father was strictly against the marriage because of Dharmendra’s age and already existent family. The prospect of change of faith found even less favour.
Hema married Dharmendra only after her father passed away but it is said that the move hurt her mother deeply.
According to Outlookindia.com, their Nikahnama records their marriage as Dilawar Khan Kewal Krisn accepting Aisha Bi R. Chakravarty as his wife in the presence of two legal witnesses and at a mehr of Rs 11000. This was kept a secret and they later got married Iyengar style as well.
Hema was literally a dream girl and a heart-breaker. Sanjeev Kumar is said to have fallen deeply in love with her and proposed marriage on the sets of ‘Sholay’. Her refusal is said to have caused anger, grief and extreme alcoholism which ultimately led to his heart attack and death.
Jitendra also fell in love with Hema while playing the middle man for Sanjeev Kumar. They were almost engaged before Jitendra decided to go back to his wife.
Hema and Dharmendra continued dating for 5 years before they got married. The love affair that started on the sets of ‘Tum Saseen Main Jawaan’ has now lasted over 3 decades.