Mumbai: Actress-politician Hema Malini, who is busy campaigning for the ongoing Lok Sabha polls, catches her breath to remember Feroz Khan and says he was the only colleague to use an endearment for her and give her a sensuous avatar in his hit film Dharmatma.
"He was the first and last man who called me 'baby'. No one has ever dared. I wish they would. What a suave man he was," Hema said.
"When I agreed to do Dharmatma he made it very clear I was there in the first-half only. He said, 'You can't say no, baby!' That was a new experience for me. My mother was more shocked than I was. With everyone addressing me as 'ji' it feels nice if someone comes up with a term of endearment.
"Earlier this week I was in Darjeeling campaigning when someone from the crowd shouted out 'Hemu' and disappeared into the mountains. I felt good because that's what my near and dear ones call me," she added.
Flamboyant actor-filmmaker Feroz Khan died at his farmhouse in Bangalore on Sunday after a year-long battle with cancer. He was 69.
Feroz Khan calling Hema 'baby' was not the only change that he brought to her life.
"He decided to take on the challenge of making me look more glamorous and sensuous than ever before. That was a tough job because I was constantly fighting to cover myself up more than those costumes by Parmeshwar Godrej allowed. I don't think I've ever used so many safety pins in my entire lifetime. He wanted me to be as uninhibited as today's heroines. That wasn't possible for me."
Hema shot in Afghanistan for Dharmatma and says it was a memorable experience.
"I don't think any film unit had gone there before. It was a memorable experience. And we really had to rough it out. It was freezing cold in Kabul. We had to stay in tents. In the evenings, we'd all sit together and prepare for next day's scenes,” she said.
"Otherwise after shooting I always kept to myself. But he persuaded not just me but also my mother to join the unit in the evening. 'Come on, mom. Join us.' My mother was taken aback. We're basically very shy people. But he'd make her part of the discussions. That's the way to make films. One gets so charged and enthusiastic. I wish Feroz Khan and I had done more films together," Hema said.