Hema Malini later turns to be the first female actress to be given a leading role in a Bollywood film. In 1984, she made her debut in Balraj Sahni's directorial Yaadon Ki Baraat and received a Best Actress nomination for the film. In 1985, she starred opposite Amitabh Bachchan in her first villainous role in Aaj Ka Murder. In her next movie Poonam, she played the role of a dancer.
Hema Malini began playing more heroines in the early '80s. Her first release, in 1985, was Aaj Ka Murder. She was catapulted to fame after her performance as Surjeet in Ram Avtar (1986). Surjeet, a classical dancer, is brought to a village where she meets Vinod Khanna (who was at the time playing Prem Chopra's role in an important movie), and the two fall in love and marry.
Then, in the early '80s, when Bollywood's male actors were playing varied roles as cops, army men, or college boys, it was Hema Malini's turn to play damsels in distress. Despite the dominance of Shashi Kapoor and Amitabh Bachchan in the film industry, Hema Malini also began playing major roles as a housewife in several movies including Namak Halaal, Deewana Hoon Tumse Na, and Poonam. During the mid-1980s, Hema Malini was the highest paid actress in Bollywood. She was an extremely popular film actress at the time, and she still continues to remain among the most adored and bankable actors in Bollywood.
Hema Malini and Rajesh Khanna with their son Aryan Dev in a still from Deewana Hoon Tumse Na (1980).
Hema Malini's first major break was in Ram Avtar. She received great recognition for her role and became a household name in Bollywood. The movie also won the Filmfare Award for Best Film. In 1980, Hema Malini acted in Alibaba Aur 40 Chor along with her husband Prem Chopra. Later she worked with her husband in Aakhri Dao (1985) and Yaadon Ki Baraat (1980).
In the early 1980s, she was cast in the lead role in the romantic drama Ram Avtar, which was the first time in the history of Indian cinema that a Hindi film actress was given the lead in a major film by a male-dominated industry. The same year, she starred in Deewana Hoon Tumse Na, playing a housewife who goes to confront a rogue brother. The plot was similar to the French farce Le joli mai (The Lovely Month) by Jean Renoir, which was directed by her husband Raj Kapoor in the 1950s. The movie was a major hit at the 0b46394aab