DEV ANAND HAD LEGENDS AMONG HIS FANS AND ADMIRERS
He went away from this world just like he wanted to, like a drop of water from a river flowing noiselessly into the vast ocean, but he has left hundreds and thousands, eternal memories of a man who was always associated with all the best things of life, to make life more beautiful and who could not be linked with death even by those who hated him (I cannot for the life of me believe that he had people who could hate him because he was love all the way, only love and more love with no place in his life for petty feelings like hate, rivalry jealousy, strife and if he ever competed with anyone, it was with himself, Dev, as he loved being called and referred to).
He would have been ninety-three years old on September 26, 2016, and if death had not been jealous of the joie de vivre (the joy of living) he was a symbol of and taken him away kindly and softly like he wished to go, he would still be the Dev Anand for whom there was just no stopping, come hail, storm or one of those strikes in Mumbai which paralyse the entire city but could not stop him from getting into his car in the front seat with his chauffeur Prem and drive down to his office and recording studio, Anand.
I was like I always say a highly privileged “nobody” to be considered a somebody by him, a privilege he gave me till his last birthday he celebrated at his favourite hotel, the Sun-N-Sand where he lived in suite number 339 for more than twenty years. It was during our meeting at this birthday that I had a strange premonition that I would never see him again and as we kept talking in the same suite number 339 after so many years, I could hear his voice break and crack and I could see his tears rolling down his cheeks and when he embraced me for the last time, I remember how I could feel every bone in his body which gave me the feeling that all was not well with him…
He left for London with his son, Suneil and lived at the Dorchester Hotel which was his favourite. He was planning to write the script of his next film, but he had to just ask for a glass of water which his son Suneil handed over to him in the middle of the night and then he went to sleep without letting anyone know that he had gone to eternal sleep, never to wake up again…
I don’t want to remember that day when the news about the “Guide” who was lost forever because it will bring back terrible memories about how I broke down and tore everything in sight and screamed and cried like I had not for anyone else in the world.
I still remember him every day and especially every night when I have to listen to at least five or six of his best songs which are necessary for me if I have to have a sound sleep. It is a habit I would never like to give up till I lose the ability to have or develop habits…
On his ninety-third birthday, I remember some of the biggest of names who were his admirers and die-hard fans who believed that he was not just another human being, not just a star or a superstar or a legend but who recognised him as a man who had a heart that beat and bled for others.
Guru Dutt was lucky to have found a friend in Dev when the two were working together in Prabhat’s “Hum Ek Hai” in then Poona, now Pune. Guru was a choreographer and Dev the new hero of the film. They struck up a fond friendship and Dev who had still to take his first big step had seen promise in Guru and had told him that whenever he became a star and produced his own films, he would remember him and give him a break as a director. Dev became a star and started his own production company, Navketan and remembered the promise he had made to Guru Dutt and gave him, a newcomer who knew nothing about direction his first chance to direct “Baazi” which marked the beginning of a man and a maker who was going to do Indian cinema proud. Dev and Guru went their own ways, but Dev always remembered the evening Guru Dutt had dropped in at his office. He was in a dishevelled state, he had been drinking heavily and had turned all yellow because of the ravages of jaundice. Guru had faced disaster with his film, “Kaagaz Ke Phool” from which he could not recover. He told Dev he wanted to direct another film for Navketan. Dev gave him a patient hearing and asked him to get well soon and they would certainly do another film together. That was the last time Dev saw his friend Guru Dutt. The next morning Guru’s Man Friday called Dev Anand to inform him of the untimely death of Guru Dutt, he was only thirty-nine and Dev was the first to see his inert body lying on the floor of his apartment.
Among the other directors who looked up to Dev Anand as a “guru” figure were his younger brother Vijay Anand who made some of the most memorable films with his elder brother, films like “Taxi Driver”, “Tere Ghar Ke Saamne”, “Guide” and “Tere Mere Sapne” among others. Dev considered Goldie as a genius till he took to politics within the industry and was shattered when he took sanyaas and joined Bhagwaan Rajneesh only to be disillusioned and return to Bombay with the magic of the maker in him lost forever. The other director who looked up to Dev was Raj Khosla who had ambitions to be a singer like K.L Saigal but in whom Dev saw the makings of a good director and got him his first job as an assistant director of Guru Dutt after which he shone out as a brilliant director and would have continued his good work if he had not fallen a victim to alcohol and if he had not made a mess of his personal life…
Among the music directors who looked up to Dev were the father and son, S.D Burman and R.D Burman and among the lyricists were Shailendra and Hasrat Jaipuri and his favourite poet, Sahir Ludhianvi who gave him his philosophy of life with the song, “Har fiqr ko dhuye mein udaata chalaa gayaa”, a song from his film, “Hum Dono” also directed by Vijay Anand in which Dev played his first and only memorable double role. Among the writers who had all the respect for Dev’s ideas were the eminent English novelists, Pearl S Buck and R.K Narayan and a typical Hindi film writer called K.A Narayan who called himself “the emperor of stories” after he wrote “Jewel Thief” for Dev.
Dev had some of the biggest stars as his unabashed fans. Stars like Sunil Dutt and Dharmendra remembered him as the man who had just one look at them and saw a great future for them. Sunil Dutt was Balraj Dutt, an announcer with Radio Ceylon whose job it was to interview stars and it was when he was interviewing Dev that Dev told him that he had all the makings of a star. Dev saw Dharmendra in a crowd in a studio where he was shooting and called him out of the crowd only to tell him not to waste his time and not do insignificant roles because he was destined to be a very big star.
Among the other stars who had all the admiration and respect for Dev were Shammi Kapoor and Shashi Kapoor, and other stars of the new generation like all the three sons of Raj Kapoor, Govinda, Salman Khan and even a filmmaker like Subhash Ghai.
Amitabh Bachchan had the highest regards for Dev. The legendary Dev once wanted Amitabh to be the chief guest at one of his functions. Amitabh asked Dev to drop in at his house before attending the function and both Amitabh and Jaya gave him the welcome which moved Dev to tears. Amitabh also wore the same kind of shirt Dev had worn to attend the function. Together they created a sensation. There was a time when Amitabh was associated with the Congress Party and Dev as usual was always an anti-Congress man. An organisation believed that it was creating something sensational by bringing the two legends of different times on one platform expecting fireworks with the media attending the meet in huge numbers at seven- thirty in the morning. But the two legends disappointed them thoroughly as they didn’t speak a word of politics and only kept praising each other, with Amitabh even touching Dev’s feet. When Dev wanted Amitabh to release his autobiography, “Romancing Life” in Mumbai all he had to do was make just one call to Amitabh and he was there at “The Leela” hotel and spoke about Dev like very few must have.
Among the actresses who not only respected him but showed their reverence for him were Hema Malini who did six films with him, Waheeda Rehman who did seven films with him and Raakhee who did three. In fact, Hema and Raakhee used to visit temples and pray for Dev on his birthdays and especially on the days his new films were released. Tabu was the one female star of the new generation who looked up to Dev like her “godfather” and never forgot to say how she would not have been an actress if Dev had not seen her talent when she was just twelve years old and made an entire film called “Hum Naujawaan” with her as the central character.
Dev also had admirers in various fields of life, lawyers, doctors, judges and politicians. He was very close to leaders like Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, V.K Krishna Menon, the first defence minister of India, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, L.K Advani and leaders cutting across all political parties. When Dev was angry with the Emergency declared by Mrs. Indira Gandhi he launched his own National Party and the first meeting held at Shivaji Park sent shivers down the spines of several leading politicians. Dev had known the Shiv Sena Supremo, Balasaheb Thackeray when he was a junior cartoonist working with the Free Press Journal drawing a salary of hundred and fifty rupees and called him “Bal”. When Thackeray was at his peak, he called for the boycott of a film made by Dev because he felt Fatima Sheikh, the heroine of Dev’s film was from Pakistan. Dev was a worried man for the first time. I had the unique privilege of giving him the advice to talk to Thackeray on the phone and Thackeray invited Dev to his house, “Matoshri”. Dev was given a red carpet welcome with the entire Thackeray family present to welcome him. Dev finally asked Thackeray if he was serious about boycotting his film and Thackeray told him, “woh sab hamaara politics hai. Aap worry nahi karne ka. Kal main mere paper mein likh doonga ki mere se galti ho gayi aur tumhara heroine Pakistani nahi hai, bas khush”. There was no boycott of Dev’s film and the two remained friends till the end.
The goodwill Dev had could be seen when he visited places like Bhopal, Lucknow, Delhi, Pune and Kalyan. The entire population came out into the streets to give him the welcome they had not given to any politician or star or saint.
The ultimate respect was shown to Dev when he received the Dadasaheb Phalke Award at the Vigyan Bhavan in New Delhi. The late President Dr. APJ Kalaam was to present him with the award. The auditorium was packed to capacity with the who’s of the Capital. The then Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Mr. Ravi Shankar Prasad said his signing of the papers declaring Dev as the winner was “the greatest moment in my life”. The function came to a spectacular climax when the entire audience including the President who broke protocol gave Dev a standing ovation for more than ten minutes.
There is so much more that can be said about Dev Anand, the kind of Anand (joy) that comes into like just once in hundreds of years and leaves his Anand (joy) for all times to come.