The on-screen magic of the DHARMENDRA -SHARMILA TAGORE ‘jodi’


Sharada Iyer

This is a post to celebrate the on-screen pairing of two of the most charismatic actors to have entered our film industry- Dharmendra and Sharmila Tagore. Even though his pairing with Hema Malini and her pairing with Rajesh Khanna attained more popularity, these two stars created special magic whenever they came together. Apart from sharing a great chemistry in the films they have acted together, these two stars also happen to share their birthday which falls on 8th December.

With his distinctive combination of a gentle face and a rugged physique Dharmendra is undeniably amongst the best-looking actors of Hindi cinema and retains much of his charm even today. He turned 81 on 8th December, 2016. He belongs to the exclusive set of actors to have completed 50 glorious years in the film industry; yet he remains humble and does not hanker after publicity. In the initial years of his career especially in the Black & White films, he played gentle, soft-spoken, good-hearted characters and after the seventies he found popularity in action and comedy roles and got the tag of He-Man attached to his name. He may not have won any popular ‘Best Actor’ awards but his simple nature and the genuine warmth and affection of his fans made him into one of those rare actors who have been loved and respected by all generations.

Sharmila Tagore who incidentally turned 71 this year remained an actress par excellence and can easily be called the most versatile actress of our industry in terms of the sheer variety of roles she has essayed. Switching from a child-bride to a bikini-babe to a widow to a prostitute she has fit into any and every character with effortless ease and handled them all with panache never letting any one individual image of hers overpower the other. She maintained an admirable balance between simple, serious and glamour-oriented roles and shared great on-screen chemistry with all her co-stars be it Rajesh Khanna, Sanjeev Kumar, Shammi Kapoor or Dharmendra.

Both these rare artistes had the good fortune of working under great directors who helped their talent to shine through giving us some great cinematic moments. They had the opportunity to star in eight memorable films in their career which stood out for excellent direction, memorable stories, catchy music and invariably had a brilliant supporting cast in the form of  Ashok Kumar, David, Deven Verma, Om Prakash, Tarun Bose, Brahm Bharadwaj, etc., who added their own luminous touch to these films.

ANUPAMA (1966)

It was in 1966 that director Hrishikesh Mukherjee decided to cast these two actors in his ANUPAMA. It is the poignant story of a girl-Sharmila Tagore- whose mother dies during child-birth and her father, unable to bear the separation from his beloved wife forever could never bring himself to give any love to the motherless child. The girl grows up to be a reticent and introverted character who hardly utters a word and is always in fear of her father. But love enters her world in the form of a simple and honest teacher Dharmendra.

It is a beautiful film flawless in every respect with outstanding performances from both the actors especially Sharmila. Her eyes speak volumes and convey the angst, pain and love felt by the character turning this into one of her career-best roles. The film had beautiful music by Hemant Kumar. Here are two outstanding numbers from the film:


The same director-actor trio joined together for a second time to give us a film which is considered by director Hrishikesh Mukherjee himself to be his most satisfying film and this time Dharmendra gives his career-best performance. In the role of the honest Satyapriya, his strict principles of honesty and unwillingness to compromise in life by supporting corruption don’t always  have a positive outcome. His family suffers and his relations with his best friend are strained. Sharmila Tagore plays a prostitute who gets raped because of a delay on his part to help her and he marries her out of guilt and later discovers that she is pregnant with the rapist’s child. When his end comes as he succumbs to cancer, the character remains with us long after the movie is over.

Unfortunately the film flopped at the box-office and Dharmendra who had been the producer of the film faced a lot of hardships financially.Here are two superb songs from the film


The third outing together of the same trio resulted in giving to Hindi cinema one of its all-time great comedy films (the others being Padosan , Half-Ticket, Golmaal and Chalti ka naam  gaadi). Dharmendra and Sharmila Tagore play a happily married couple but he is jealous of her admiration for her ‘jijaji’ or brother-in-law Om Prakash. So Dharmendra decides to play a trick on the revered brother-in-law by posing as a driver and gets employed in Om Prakash’s house. After a while Sharmila comes to stay with her sister Usha Kiran and ‘jijaji’ and Amitabh Bachchan is made to pose as her husband but he ends up falling in love with Usha Kiran’s sister. The confusion and mayhem that follows is hilarious, the dialogues are superb and though the entire cast comes up with performances, it is Dharmendra’s character and his flair for comedy that stand out in the film.

This is the most popular song from the film:


In this film directed by Amar Kumar, Sharmila Tagore plays a rich heiress who stays with her friend Mumtaz and guardian Ajit. One day when she is posing as a model in simple clothes for her friend who is a painter, Dharmendra mistaking her to be a poor girl gives her some money and also feels attracted towards her. She is also drawn towards him and decides to hide her true identity from him for fear of losing him and asks Mumtaz to pose as her landlady. Expectedly one day he chances upon the truth, feels very hurt and misunderstands her intentions. Later it turns out that Ajit had actually murdered Dharmendra’s father and there are further complications. Though the plot will not win any brownie points in terms of logic, the end product is highly entertaining and is studded with lovely songs. The good-looking star-pair along with Mumtaz add a lot of glamour-quotient and make for pleasant viewing!

Here are two songs which Dharmendra sings to Sharmila-one when he is in love with her and the other out of anger on learning the truth:

DEVAR (1966)

Directed by Mohan Sehgal, this is again a rare film where Dharmendra and Sharmila Tagore who had been childhood sweethearts get separated and meet years later as brother-in-law and sister-in-law! They get separated when her father gets a transfer and he grows up thinking of her and the only way to ever identify her is a tattoo she had done as a child. Ironically fate plays a cruel game with him. Unknowingly though his marriage is fixed with Sharmila Tagore, his friend Deven Verma who goes to see the girl on behalf of his friend ends up falling for her. He plays a mean trick because of which Dharmendra is married to Shashikala and Deven Verma to Sharmila. After he comes to know the truth Dharmendra keeps the truth of his identity to himself.

Roshan’s haunting music adds to the poignancy of this story and needless to say the star-pair give excellent performances. Here are two outstanding songs from the film:


This film directed  by Devendra Goel had a weaker plot as compared to their other films. Here Sharmila Tagore plays secretary to Ashok Kumar who runs a publishing house and he has a daughter Leena Chandravarkar who is studying abroad. Sharmila is in love with Dharmendra who though honest and capable is unable to stick to a job for more than a period of two months at a stretch. She has an eye problem and during one of her check-ups gets to know that she has a condition which may cause her to become blind in a few months. As she does not want her lover to suffer a blind wife she comes up with a weird idea to get him to hate her by marrying Ashok Kumar!!! Expectedly he hates her and becomes a alcoholic and womanizer till Leena Chandravarkar enters his life.

Now the useless doctor realizes that he had made a mistaken diagnosis and calls to tell her that there is nothing seriously wrong with her eye and has no clue to the havoc he has caused in her personal life! When Sharmila decides to go back to Dharam she finds out that her step-daughter is in love with the same man. There is enough juice for the plot to thicken and the narrative to move forward before ending in a predictable climax.

Again the songs of the movie were a hit. Here is a lovely Kishore Kumar number which Dharmendra sings when he spots Ashok Kumar and Sharmila dining together in a club…

YAKEEN (1975)

This highly entertaining thriller directed by Brij had a taut script, fast-paced narrative and delightful chase sequences involving scientists and espionage as the theme. The film  had our ‘Garam-Dharam’ playing a dashing double role -as a noble scientist and a ruthless killer. Sharmila Tagore provides the perfect female angle with her ultra-glam quotient and superb acting. Here the scientist is kidnapped by the villains and the ruthless killer impersonates him by taking his place and is able to fool everyone but his pet dog. The film had all the elements of a typical suspense thriller of the seventies and the lovely songs were an added bonus:

Here is a fabulous song from the film which actually has two versions in the voices of both Rafi and Lata. While the rafi version is sung by the scientist Dharmendra, the Lata version has the killer Dharmendra pretending to be the scientist…

SUNNY (1984)

This was their last film together. Directed by Raj Khosla, the film had Dharmendra playing father to his real-life son Sunny Deol but father and son had no scenes together on screen. Though he is married to Waheeda Rehman, he has an illicit relationship with the prostitute Sharmila Tagore and Sunny Deol is a child born out of wedlock. Dharmendra had a small role and dies early in the film. Waheeda lies to Sharmila that the son born to her is a still-born and brings up Sunny Deol as her own son. After a lot of drama,the truth is revealed. Songs by R D Burman are one of the highlights of the film.





8 thoughts on “The on-screen magic of the DHARMENDRA -SHARMILA TAGORE ‘jodi’

  1. Thanks for mopping the dust off this memory lane! Anupama and Satyakam are two of the greatest movies of Hrishida. Chupke chupke.. redefined the very genre of comedy films. And all these had a lot to do with the individual performance and on-screen chemistry of this duo.
    Very well researched and interestingly presented article👍

    Liked by 2 people

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