Vandana Shukla, Tribune News Service
The heart-throb of millions Dev Anand died on Saturday night in a London hospital. He was 88. In his association of over five decades with the world of cinema, he created a huge body of work- leaving behind about 110 films that he acted in and 31 of his productions – some successful, some not so successful, made under the banner of Navketan Films. Many of these films, like Guide, Hum Dono, Jewel Thief and Hare Rama Hare Krishna are landmarks of Hindi cinema. Yet, Dev Anand was never tired of making films. Only death could say ‘pack up’ to his legendary joie de vivre last night.
Born as Dharma Dev Anand in a Punjabi family at Gurdaspur in Punjab on September 26, 1923, he graduated in English honours from Lahore before migrating to this part of India, in 1947, during the partition.
The debonair Dev became a heart- throb of millions with his peculiar gait and hairstyle, which was often compared with Gregory Peck. It was said that in the 50s and 60s, the day his films were released, colleges and universities used to wear a deserted look. His rapid-fire style of dialogue delivery, his disarming smile and the frequent nodding of head became his inimitable style, his ada.
After a struggle of ‘just two years’ as an actor with IPTA (Indian People’s Theatre Association), in Mumbai, Dev was spotted by Ashok Kumar, who gave him a lead role in Ziddi, a production of Bombay Talkies. Before this, he had acted opposite the famous singer- actress Suraiya in the 40s, but Suraiya’s popularity overshadowed his talent. And, his off-screen failed romance with Suraiya filled many gossip columns.
It was during his period of struggle that he came across Guru Dutt, and the two made a promise to each other, whosoever achieved success first, would help the other. And, the rest is history. In 1951 Guru Dutt made Baazi, starring Dev Anand and Geeta Bali. The film became a trend-setter in urban crime thrillers and was a hit. The film also introduced Kalpana Kartik, who became Dev Anand’s lead heroine for many films like House No 44, Nau Do Gyarah and Taxi Driver (1954). After delivering many hits, Kalpana married Dev and retired from films.
Munimji, Pocketmaar, Funtoosh, CID, Paying Guest, Kaala Pani, Bambai ka Baboo, Jaal, for which he played a role with negative shades, were a string of box office hits, which turned Dev became into an established star.
After exploring several genres – crime thrillers, dark humour and light hearted banter, Dev Anand established himself as a romantic hero towards the 60s. Manzil, Tere Ghar Ke Samne, Asli Naqli established that no one could romance ladies on screen better than him. Music also played an integral part in creating his romantic image. Hum Dono, another trendsetter, a film in which he played a double role was re-released in colour in 2008, with its evergreen numbers.
In Teen Deviyan his role of a playboy opposite Kalpana, Simi Grewal and Nanda was equally convincing. Whereas in Tere Ghar Ke Samne, his pairing with Nutan was a success, carried on the strength of the film’s super hit music, he featured in many hits with Waheeda Rehman, who was first introduced in CID by Guru Dutt.
When he produced Guide, based on the novel of R K Narain, the theme of a woman’s liberation — first from the oldest profession and later from an oppressive marriage, was much ahead of its times in 1965, when the film was released.
The film was also made in English simultaneously, a first of a kind for a Bollywood film. It was screened at Cannes Film Festival in 2007, 42 years after its release. In Jewel Thief and Johny Mera Naam, once again he paired with his brother Vijay Anand, as the director, after some differences. These films were not only commercially success stories, they were also thematically rich.
In 1971 he produced Hare Rama Hare Krishna, and dealt with the subject of breaking-up of families and the subsequent neglect of children, who turn hippies. Thereafter he continued to make topical films, addressing issues much before they surfaced to become a cause of social concern.
Like Guide, in Tere Mere Sapne, he once again picked a piece of literature, The Citadel by A J Cronin, to translate into the language of the celluloid. Des Pardes, Heera Panna, Amir Garib, Dharam Karam, Yeh Gulistan Hamara and many more followed. His last film was Chargesheet, a thriller.