A Close Encounter with Dev Anand

It was nearly 25 years ago, on a winter afternoon, the Press Club in New Delhi was overflowing with members and guests, when the young Secretay-General of the club Chand Joshi led the stylish,debonair, ever young and evergreen guest of the day Mr. Dev Anand into the lawns where we all were waiting to catch a glimpse or shake hands with him.
And, to my excitement, I had my favourite actor and idol, Dev Saab standing at a hand-shake distance from me, his face glowing and exuding the youthfulness of a 25-year-old man. He mingled with the crowd before being led to the private dining room of the club and then to the main hall where a makeshift podium was erected for his talk.
One of the questions asked was obvious one, about his age. With no qualms or hesitation, he told the gathered media persons of the Capital that he never kept his age a secret and proudly declared,” I am 64 years old and born on 26th September 1923.”
While speaking, he displayed a great knowledge of varied subjects and answered questions from politics to culture and his personal life.
One day, while shopping at the Janpath, I stumbled upon his A0 sized poster in black and white and it was so attractive that I bought and displayed it in my bedroom and it remained there till I moved from the country.
I was not expecting to wake up to the sad news of his death. The first thought came to my mind was that he is evergreen and ever youthful how can he die! But even Dev Saab once said in one his interviews that everyone had to physically die and he would too but till that day comes, he will keep on working. And, he kept his word — he died with his boots on. He will be with us through his films no matter hits or flops.
He was a visionary and all his films were ahead of times. While I don’t watch the new generation movies but whenever I get a chance, it would be either of Dev Saab or my other favourite, Shammi Kapoor. Both of whom shared some great moments in their hey days. We learnt through Shammi ji that he got at least two movies because Dev Saab had either turned down or couldn’t do them. And, one of them propelled him to super stardom.
Incidentally, Shammi Kapoor died two months before his 80th birthday and Dev Saab departed two months after his 88th birthday. Both the legends died on a Sunday morning.
I had procured his autobiography Romancing with Life while I was in Sydney and it was so interesting that I read it five times and remember on what page what was written. One felt that every page we read brought us closer to him, his family and his work. Like, he mentions in the book of his fling with a woman when he was doing his first film and the daily trips to corn fields in Pune with her. Later, he used that incident in his movie Teen Deviyaan with him and Nanda singing “likha hai teri aankhon mein.”
He openly wrote about his affairs with Suraiyya and Zeenat Amman and how deeply involved he was with them. And, just when he was about to express his love for Zeenat, Raj Kapoor signed her for Satyam Shivam Sunderam and the relationship ended there and then.
His brother Chetan was not doing very well so he took some advance money from his producer to open a production house for him Navketan International. Under this banner, he produced and his brothers directed several memorable hits. Among the notable ones are Guide and Kala Paani that gave him two Filmfare awards. When Chetan walked away to set up his own company, Dev then roped in Vijay to direct Kala Bazaar. Although he ghost directed Teen Deveeyan but once Vijay bowed out of Navketan, Dev turned director with Prem Pujari, he wrote in the book. But as he described in the book, theirs was a very close-knit family.
Dev Saab gave break to so many newcomers under his production, including his best friend Guru Dutt, Balraj Sahani, S. D Burman, Kishore Kumar, Tina Munim, Jackie Shroff and Waheeda Rahman to name a few.
He tried to launch his son’s career but he couldn’t match his charisma and later went to manage Anand studio.
Dev Saab’s message of life ” main zindagi ka saath nibhaata chalaa gayaa” became the motto of so many of his fans and followers. One line in this song “gam aur khushi mein fark na mehsoos ho jahan, main dil ko uss mukaam pe laata chalaa gayaa,” was a true reflection of his film-making process. He never rued about his films being flopped and embarked on another one. Films was his life and lived films. Chargesheet, his last film released and he was ready with his next film– A sequel to Hare Rama Hare Krishna.
Rest word was not in his dictionary hence, it will be wrong to say rest in peace for the departed soul. I would say may his soul “work in peace.”

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About Ashok Kumar

Ashok Kumar is an accomplished journalist with over 38 years of experience in the profession in various capacities. He was a sub-editor in Patriot and later Chief Sub-editor in The Hindustan Times, New Delhi. He has several published articles and reports in Patriot and HT. Published reports in The Blacktown Sun in Sydney. He had also been a tutor in journalism in the University of Western Sydney. He is currently Editor at The Indian Sub-continent Times, Sydney.

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One Comment on “A Close Encounter with Dev Anand”

  1. Thanks for enlightening us with some of Dev’s life activities. Although Dev is no more in body, his creations will always live in our hearts.

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