Hema Malini's biography is to be launched this Monday. ANUJ KUMAR speaks to the author BHAWAMA SOMAAYA

Today when stars are ready to share what they do in their bathrooms, it is hard to imagine that a star could refuse to answer a question just because she was out walking. Yes, we are talking about Hema Malini, and the young journalist who displayed the alleged bad manners was Bhawana Somaaya. That was in the late '70s. Times have changed, and now Bhawana has come up with a biography of the dream girl. A seasoned journalist Bhawana, has written extensively on cinema. She says the ice between the two was broken when Bhawana reviewed her ballet "Draupadi". "She called me and asked me to write a book on her as a dancer. She felt that people know the actor, the star she is, but they don't know that there would be no Hema Malini without her dance and the hardships she had to go through."

The trust

But Bhawana had never worked on a commissioned book. "I told her that the book would be incomplete unless we include the actress and the woman. She agreed, and thus started our meetings. At times, I would leave a draft of 2500 words with her. Next morning I would find a thousand words added to the text. Sometimes, it hurt the journalist in me, but as an author it made my work more challenging." So here Hema talks candidly not only about her career but also about the highs and lows in her relationship with her mother, father and Dharmendra. Talking about the person about whom reams were written but rarely ever with her quote, Bhawana says there is no double side to her. "Her face reflects whatever she has in her heart. One of the reasons that she chose me was that I never indulged in `sensational' journalism."Time and again critics have called her a limited actress, who thrived on her magnetic beauty and screen presence, but Bhawana feels Hema has been "enormously lucky". "She trusted her directors. Initially, she was apprehensive about playing the naughty Geeta's part in Seeta aur Geeta. She found a way out. She would ask director Ramesh Sippy to first enact every scene to her. Like the scene where she had to sit on the ceiling fan, or for that matter in Sholay, where she had to dance on glass pieces in `Jab Tak Hai Jaan'!" Bhawana holds Hema never diluted the classical dance forms to suit the popular taste. "She always maintained if the audience want to see her popular dance numbers they should come to cinema theatres." Bhawana reminds us Hema did her share of offbeat films like Kinara, Rihai and Ek Chadar Maili Si, "but like most successful stars fell into the image trap." Her aversion to exposure, even when the script demanded it, Bhawana calls a matter of personal choice. "Even Amitabh has stayed away from kissing scenes and nudity."Final word: "She brought dignity to whatever she did and managed to retain her innocence despite the hardships."