New Delhi (Agency): No celebratory parties on this occasion would have pepped up the man who was in love with his youth and zest for life. Small wonder, his refusal to age gracefully was manifest in his later day films which even his most diehard fans would have dismissed as duds.
It went against Dev Anand’s nature to age let alone gracefully. This is arguably the clue to the roles when clad in the fashion of the day jackets, colourful scarves and a gingham cap he pathetically tried to act in a manner that would have befitted him if he had walked into a time capsule.
But it is not this man whom his fans spread across generations would have liked to see on the silver screen in a dark air conditioned hall romancing Waheeda Rehman or Nanda. For the audience was certain that unlike the two of his off screen peers, Dev Anand would ultimately be united with his lady love.
Corruption, crime, poverty and price rise confronted the audience outside the cinema hall. Watching a Dev Anand movie, the men and women would be rid of their problems for a few hours and go back home happy and optimistic.
Optimism was in the air as India had just won its freedom. And even though a suave hero with a urbane image appearing in the silver screen in a film with a whodunit plot ought to have been the last thing movie goers would have looked forward to, Dev Anand ‘s films ran to packed houses.
Hatted and scarved, walking past the heroine to romance her in an inimitable style, Dev Anand was almost the slick city dweller. He knew he was not cut from the same cloth as his intimate friends Raj Kapoor and Dilip Kumar who made up the triumvirate ruling the Hindi film world for decades.
Anand almost never played the villager in dhoti, his limbs caked in mud after long hours behind a pair of oxen ploughing the ancestral field. He left such roles to his friends Kapoor and Kumar.
And unlike the duo whose acting made the women leave the movie theatre teary eyed, Anand never failed to make his audience feel a song in their hearts and a spring in their steps. Small wonder, he remained the highest paid hero for decades for very justifiable reasons – his films always turned out to be bigger hits.
No hero of Dev ‘s times tried to act in the parts which were to his liking. The roles of a sleuth, a gambler, a tourist guide who lives together with the wife of another man, a jail bird, a man who earns his living selling cinema tickets in the black market, a member of dope smoking group of hippies were essayed to perfection by him.
There he was, Dev Anand, the first really cool hero of Indian films. Urban themes were topics of his film company Nav Ketan where he was directed by his brothers Chetan and Vijay.
When he arrived in Bombay during the World War Ii and taken up the job of a censor in a military post office, Dev Anand had dreams in his eyes. His chance meeting with Guru Dutt in those struggling days led to a lifelong friendship involved always in discussions on how to make a good film. Dev was involved with Indian People’s Theatre Association (IPATA) in post second world years. This interaction along with his elder brother Chetan Anand prepared him for his acting career with strong social sense and awareness about the changing India.
Anand’s acting career started with Hum Ek Hain which was nothing to write home about, his dreams of being a star in his own right took shape with the release of Ziddi. It was also marked by the voice of a young singer, Kishor Kumar.
A star was born when Baazi (The Gamble), the second Nav Ketan production, a light and shadow film directed by a newcomer, Guru Dutt was released. It was about a small time gambler played by Dev himself. .Dev and Guru had a perfect mutual understanding and that was fully evident in their first film.
The cool cat hero has arrived. In film after film, Dev Anand in hat, jacket over a full sleeve shirt and a scarf around his neck continued to repeat his leaning tower gait, rat-a-tat dialogue delivery. The audience came back and asked for more of the same. If Kumar and Kapoor, the two other members of the troika had great talent manifest in their versatility and variety of their roles, Dev Anand held his own with his urbanity and a style which was all his own.
Anand’s films were blessed with great songs. Hum Dono (1960) had him lipping Abhi Na Jao Chod Kar Ke Dil Abhi Bhari Nahi, Bambaika Babu acting opposite none other than Suchitra Sen, Dev had in his lips Deewana Mastana.
Guide starring Waheeda Rehman was the magnum opus of his career. This was based on a novel by R K Narayan. It had ethereal music Wahan Kaun Hain Tera and Aaj Phir Jine Ka Tamanna Hai scored by SD Burman mesmerized the Indian audience.
The censors thought the story of a couple living as man and wife sans taking the marriage vows was unfit for Indian audience. It saw the light of the day following the intervention of the then Union information and broadcasting minister, Indira Gandhi who was clearly ahead of her times.
He was a restless traveller. After enjoying success in his prime, Dev Anand produced many films just for being in the film industry. The films of his last decades failed but he did not care. He was an incorrigible romantic. At the age of 82 after completing his film ‘ Prime Minister’, Dev wrote in his memoirs ‘ Romancing with my thoughts, moving forward forever, always looking to the future, never dwelling on the buried past- that special ray of sunshine still upon me’. This great lover of life breathed his last on December 3, 2011 at the age of 88. (IPA Service)
By Tirthankar Mitra