His latest release ‘Yamla Pagla Deewana: Phir Se’ is running in theatres, which marks Dharmendra’s comeback to the big screen along with sons Sunny and Bobby Deol. Not just shooting for the film, the veteran actor has also left no stone unturned in promoting it. What keeps him going even at this age? In an interview with My Nation, Dharmendra said, “The love that I have received from people. I never forget that I am here today because of my fans. I work for them.”

Sholay’s Veeru seemed to be in a reminiscent mood as he recollected how he began his acting career back in the 1950s. He said, “It was my biggest dream (to become an actor). Not everybody gets a chance to fulfil their dreams. This is the only place which gives you the opportunity to be loved, liked and admired. I didn’t come for money or fame. Dilip saab (Dilip Kumar) was an inspiration. After watching his pictures, I was mesmerized and felt where does this handsome shehzada come from? I should go to such a place. At the same time, there was a sense of responsibility. I was my father’s eldest son. So, I analysed first whether I will be able to do it or not.” Explaining how he has learnt acting, the 82-year-old said, “To me, acting is a reaction. For example, now I am reacting to your questions. An emotional person reacts fast, be it anger, sadness or joy. I never went to any acting school. I have come straight from a village, main mitti ka beta hoon. I am romantic, witty, naughty, angry-- everything at the same time. Combining everything, I became an actor.”

Does he miss his olden times? “Yes,” said Dharmendra, adding, “I miss my people. I miss my colleagues a lot. Sometimes when I go to a studio, I just think of them. They come in front of my eyes, Mehmood, Johnny Walker all the artists who are gone. That gives me pain. Studios were temples to us at that time. Mohan studio, Natraj was like gurukul to us. I am attached to them. I am an emotional person. Time changes but memories keep flooding on my mind.” The actor revealed that when he feels extreme pain, he writes shayari, which makes him feel better.

Even though he misses his times, the veteran star is full of appreciation for today’s young actors and their work. He said, “The youngsters are very smart. They serve the food as per the audience’s taste. They are doing good. Ranveer Singh is a fine actor. The way he walks with a sword in the movie, I saluted him after watching it. I saw Dangal and had tears in my eyes.” Comparing his times and now, the actor said, “In our times, even if the film was obvious and predictable, people would flock to the theatres to watch it. Like they knew Dharmendra will now beat up the villain but they still came to watch it and would even clap.”

Talking about the changing definition of stardom, he said, “I can't forget Dilip Kumar even today or Raj (Kapoor) saab. These people will stay forever. That was a different era altogether— their personalities, their performance everything. At that time, good looks were important but now anyone can become an actor as long as he can act.”

There is stiff competition between stars these days. Did it exist even in his times? Dharmendra recalled, “I have never felt like competing with anyone but yes, it was there in our times too. There were people who would tell on your face what a wonderful film you have done and, in your back, would go about saying that it was bakwas. So, this tendency has always been there. There were some people who would even open champagne bottles if somebody else’s film flopped!”

When asked, who would he like to see essaying him if his biopic is made, the actor paused for a while and answered, “My biopic will not be made, mine was a long journey.”