Where is Hemant Birje?

The security official who turned into India’s Tarzan

Mayur Lookhar

Edward Rice Burrough’s fictional ape man Tarzan became the inspiration for a number of Hollywood films, prompting filmmaker Babbar Subhash (who made Mithun Chakraborty a star with Disco Dancer) to introduce him to Hindi cinema.

Some A-listers were keen on the role but Babbar was looking for a muscular guy with a shy attitude. He found Hemant Birje, then working for a security firm. After months of training, the Belgaum-born lad began shooting for Adventures of Tarzan, which hit screens in 1985.

Birje found his Jane in Kimi Katkar, and the audience embraced both. Slowly, Birje created his own identity. Unfortunately, he could never replicate the success of Tarzan. He switched to horror films, and while some (Veerana, Kabrastan) fared reasonably well, it didn’t take his career to the next level. After a small role in the Salman Khan-starrer Garv, he tried his luck down South but to no avail.

Last heard, fans were shocked when his wife accused him of domestic violence in 2012.