Hema regards Shashi Kapoor, Rajesh Khanna and Dev Anand to be her favorite co-stars.
The 4th South Indian actress after Vyjayanthimala, Padmini, Waheedha Rehmaan to become a major Hindi film star. Ironically, Hema's career almost ended before it began. She worked as background dancer in 2 Tamil films in 1963. C.V.Shridhar, director threw her out of a Tamil film Veniradai he was directing, saying she was too thin. Hema then made her debut only in 1968 in Hindi.
In the book "Hema Malini: The Authorized Biography," (2007) she revealed that both actors Jeetendra and Sanjeev Kumar proposed marriage to Hema, but it was Dharmendra, with whom she formed a hugely successful on-screen couple, that won her hand in the end. She defied the conventional norm at the time by becoming his second wife and continuing to work after having children.
In an effort to re-establish herself as a classical dancer (she is an expert Bharatnatyam dancer), she directed TV serials such as Noopur (1990) and "Women of India" in 1996.
Set up a Natya Vihar Kalakendra, an institution dedicated to create, spread and present the age old Indian mythological themes from the epics like Ramayana, Mahabharata and other ancient scriptures through the medium of dance.