Sunday, June 10, 2007

Dharmendra-Amitabh Relive Jai-Veeru Magic At IIFA

Bollywood veteran Dharmendra and his two sons Sunny and Bobby Deol turned emotional as thousands of fans gave a standing ovation to the thespian when he was honoured at the IIFA awards Saturday night for his outstanding contribution to the Indian film industry.

The popular Jai-Veeru duo of blockbuster 'Sholay' came together as Amitabh Bachchan recounted his long association with Dharmedra and presented the award for 'Outstanding Contribution to the Film Industry'. Bachchan went on to disclose a secret.

He said: 'Had it not been for Dharmendra, I would never have worked in Sholay. He recommended me. He insisted to (director) Ramesh Sippy to cast me in the role of Jai. I am very grateful to Dharmedra for this'.

As Dharmedra came on to the stage to receive the award from Bachchan, the thousands of fans gathered in the Sheffield FM Arena gave a standing ovation for the simple man from Phagwara, Punjab who made it big in the Indian film industry.

A clip showing a selection of Dharmendra's old films sparked off a wave of nostalgia among the audience.

Moved by the accolade and the standing ovation, Dharmendra paid tributes to his fans, and went on to emotionally recollect his association with Bachchan who, earlier, had regretted that 'we live about 50 feet away from each other in Mumbai, but we never meet. We had to come all the way to Yorkshire to meet'.

Dharmendra said: 'I don't remember if I had recommended him for the role in Sholay. In the film, he always used to get the upper hand by using the coin that had the same image on both sides. Today also he has scored over me.

'While shooting for Sholay, I remember Amitabh as an extremely introvert, painfully introvert, kind of a person. I tried to open him up by cracking jokes. He did open up later but not to the extent that I wanted.

'He is my neighbour in Mumbai and I wish I could just go across and pick up a bottle of liquor from his house.'

Dharmendra endeared himself to the large gathering comprising mainly Asians from Yorkshire and elsewhere in the UK when he said in an emotionally charged voice that India was his mother, but that he also held what he called his 'mausi' (mother's sister), Pakistan, close to his heart.

'I get emotional when I talk of Pakistan. I am everyone's', he said.

His two sons, Sunny and Bobby, joined him on stage, and the three spoke about their new film, 'Apne' in which they act together for the first time. Bobby Deol broken down in tears when he took the mike as he said: 'He's the best.'

During the awards ceremony, Basu Chatterji was honoured for his contribution to the industry, while Deepa Mehta was honoured for her contribution to the industry from outside India.

Popular actress Shilpa Shetty was honoured by reputed Yorkshire crickter Geoffrey Boycott on behalf of the local authorities for the poise and dignity she showed in the face of bullying in the January episode of Celebrity Big Brother.

The event saw scintillating dance performances by Akshay Kumar, Shilpa Shetty, Bipasha Basu and the Amitabh-Abhishek duo.


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