My only close friend in the industry is Rekha: Hema Malini

By Subhash K. Jha

Mumbai, Oct 16 (IANS) Dream Girl Hema Malini turns an ageless 60 Thursday and her daughters - Esha and Ahana - have planned a grand birthday party where all her close friends will be present, and only one good pal from the film industry - Rekha.

"I've kept the birthday party for Saturday when I'll be back from the Tirupati temple after my annual visit with all my relatives. I like to have a birthday party every year for which family and close friends are invited," Hema told IANS.

"My close friends are all from outside the industry, except Rekha. I'll only call her. We're very fond of each other over the years. We've been colleagues and friends for decades. I've invited her. I hope she comes," she added.

Hema and Rekha featured in Feroz Khan's "Dharmatma", but they didn't have any scenes together.

The actress, who is gearing up to play erstwhile Gwalior queen Vijayaraje Scindia in the movie "Ek Thi Rani Aisi Bhi", says she had her first birthday party when she turned 16.

"I don't remember any birthday party as a child. Even that 16th birthday party was organised by my producer Ananthswamy who discovered me for Hindi cinema in 'Sapnon Ka Saudagar'. It was when he insisted that I have a birthday party I realised, 'My god, you have party on your birthday?'"

Excerpts:

Q: So what makes this birthday so special?

A: You tell me. People like you make it special for me. Believe it or not, I didn't know what a birthday was until I was 16 years old. I don't remember any birthday party as a child. Even that 16th birthday party was organised by my producer Ananthswamy who discovered me and gave me a chance in "Sapnon Ka Saudagar". It was when he insisted that I have a birthday party I realised, 'My god, you have party on your birthday?'

Q: What do you mean?

A: My mother never celebrated my or mine or my brother's birthday. I don't know why! Looking back it seems so funny. Sad, no? I think birthdays are big in North India, not so big in the South.

Q: So after 16 you became addicted to birthday parties?

A: Once you become a star, everyone is eager to celebrate your birthday. There would be a cake on the sets, co-artistes singing for me. I started looking forward to my birthdays.

Q: So how are you bringing in your birthday this year?

A: It started nicely enough two evening earlier with the 'mahurat' of "Ek Thi Rani Aisi Bhi" where I play Rajmata Vijayraje Scindia. I met Vinod Khanna, my parliamentarian colleague who plays my co-star. He's looking so good these days. We had done one of my favourite films "Meera" together many years ago. Now we're doing another film in the same Rajasthani ambience.

Q: You haven't changed at all since "Meera".

A: Neither has Vinod Khanna.

Q: What about the birthday party?

A: I've kept that for Saturday when I'll be back from Tirupati after my annual birthday visit with all my relatives. I like to have a birthday party every year for which family and close friends are invited. Everyone is so busy with their life. This is one time during the year when I'm able to meet all the people who matter to me.

Q: And who are they?

A: My close friends are all from outside the industry, except Rekha. I'll only call her. We're very fond of each other for years. We've been colleagues and friends for decades. I've invited her. I hope she comes.

Q: Who's planning the party?

A: Esha and Ahana. Everything is being organised by them while I'm off to Tirupati with about 15 of my relatives including the brother.

Q: Will Dharamji be there at the party?

A: Of course, he will. What do you mean? He has to be there.

Q: And your fans, how do they connect on your birthday?

A: There're some fans for years who would go crazy if I don't let them wish me. I make it a point to take their call on my birthday. There's a lady from Nasik Lata Shirke. She's so fond of me. She sends all kinds of gifts like perfumes. I truly value this kind of love. And when you say no one in the industry speaks badly of me I feel my life is worth it.

Q: When you visited Tirupati on your birthday what you prayed for?

A: I hardly have anything to ask for. I just want to be doing the right things in life. And to create new opportunities for myself. I can feel god with me all the time. Also, I'd like to produce a film with Esha in the lead. I don't know why that isn't happening as quickly as I want.

Q; What gift would you like this birthday?

A: Some new level of excitement in my life? Can you suggest something.

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