“Never in my wildest dream did I think I’d one day be Dr. Hema Malini,” says the Dream Girl who will be conferred with a Ph.d doctorate today (September 27) at the Singhania University, Udaipur.
For Hema, this is a double whammy after the stamp issued by the Norwegian government with her face on it.
“I keep asking myself, ‘Why me?’ Why all these honours for me when I haven’t achieved anything much? When the Singhania University called me up to announce that they’d like to confer a doctorate on me I asked them why they had selected me. Honorary doctorates have been given to people like Lataji (Mangeshkar) and Amitji (Bachchan) who have influenced generations. What have I done? Then when they told me that the doctorate is given to those whose influence goes beyond their chosen profession I realized, haan maine bhi kuch kiya. My dancing, for example, has been a substantial extension of my chosen vocation. Today I am ready to embark on the Aurobindo Society’s very noble Sarvam campaign as their brand ambassador. So yes, I do feel a sense of achievement.”
Hema would be at the Singhania University in Rajasthan on Thursday to receive the honour. So do now we call her Dr. Hema Malini?
She laughs, “It should actually be Dr. Chakravarty. That’s my family surname. But my mother removed it when I joined films. She felt an artiste should not be identified with any community or region. I agree. She always dreamt of making me a doctor. Now I’ll have a ‘doctor’ attached to my name, though in a different context. It still hasn’t sunk in.”
About the Norwegian stamp the ageless Dream Girl says, “Who would think I’d have any impact so far away in Norway? There’s a sizeable population of Indians in Norway. I was there recently for the 10th Bollywood Festival. That’s when I came to know that a stamp is being issued with my face on it. Again there’s a sense of unreality to this. I’ve never taken myself that seriously.”
The Dream Girl’s picture on the stamp is from the movie Baghban. “Since that’s the best film I’ve done in recent times I am happy.”
Bringing more happiness in her life is her new role as the brand ambassador for Sarvam, a campaign undertaken by the Aurobindo Society to empower and rehabilitate rural India.
Explains Hemaji, “70 percent of India lives in the villages. And yet we neglect rural India. I am happy to be chosen as the brand ambassador for Sarvam. It’s a scheme whereby backward villages are adopted and empowered. I firmly believe India can’t grow unless the villages are empowered. Even my daughters are very excited about this assignment. We’re all going to pitch in with our best.”