At the very outset, I’d like to proclaim that this isn’t an obituary, hell no, it’s not a eulogy either. Obituaries, tributes, eulogies, elegies, and requiems are meant for the dead, not someone as alive and kicking as Dev Anand. Pick up any DVD of this debonair actor and you’ll know what I mean. Better still, read up his biography, ‘Romancing with life’ and you’ll wish you’d RIP apart all those who add the abbreviation, ‘RIP’ as prefix or suffix to Dev Anand on social networking sites.
The actor has always been special to me as the first film I ever watched in my life was ‘Paying Guest’, starring Nutan and Dev Anand. The next one to follow was his film, ‘Vidya’. The actor left an indelible mark on my mind. Like many would claim, I, too, used to emulate him by creating a puff on my stubborn curly hair. The puff lasted for few hours, but the fascination for ‘the actor with a puff on his head’ has always been an integral part of my life.
I could never fathom his ability to enamor women in the most effortless fashion. He lip-synced to the voice of singers like Mohd. Rafi, Kishore Kumar, and Hemant Kumar so convincingly that it’d give any actor worth his salt some serious competition. Watch him singing, ‘Tere mere sapne ab ek rang hain’ in Guide, and you believe that it’s Dev Anand singing, not Mohd. Rafi.
The peculiarity of Dev Anand was the fact that the songs were essentially honey-strewn and characters fundamentally grey shaded. The way he ‘sang’ ‘Ek buut banaunga tera aur pooja karunga’ in the film, Asli Naqli reaffirms this fact. The experience of watching Hum Dono in colour along with family will always remain one of the most cherished moments of my life.
After all, it was the first time I watched him on big screen. I like all his movies till Tere Mere Sapne (didn’t like any of the films directed by him including Hare Rama Hare Krishna). Hence my credentials as a diehard Dev Anand fan, is indeed doubtful.
As an adolescent, I remember walking up to a music shop and asking, “Uncle, I want Dev Anand’s cassette.” It was never a cassette of Mohd. Rafi, Kishore Kumar, Hemant Kumar or any other singer. I was a proud owner of almost all major cassette compilations of Dev Anand released by HMV in the nineties. I bought the copy of ‘Romancing with life’, his biography, on the very first day it was released at Crossword Vadodara, where I was the second customer to buy it. His friendship with Guru Dutt described in the book took me by surprise as both were of completely different personalities.
Dev Anand and Guru Dutt, during their struggling days, promised to each other that they’d give each other a break if they were ever to make a film. Inspired by this anecdote, I made a similar pact with a close friend who is currently assisting leading filmmakers in Indian film industry. We are nevertheless, yet to find the opportunity to fulfill the promise and honour the pact.
My cupboard proudly displays every DVD compilation of Dev Anand’s songs, and yes, I am doing a show-off, by sharing this: Films like Tere Ghar Ke Saamne, Asli Naqli, Jab Pyar Kisise Hota hain, Love Marriage, Hum Dono, Taxi Driver, Pocketmaar, Kala Pani, Baazi, CID, House No. 44, Baat Ek Raat Ki, Tere Mere Sapne, Guide, Jewel Thief, Johny Mera Naam, and Joshila have been my all-time favourites.
The Saturday of 3rd December 2011 was no different. I instinctively picked up the DVD of Guide. “How many times will you watch this film?” remarked my mother, prodding me to play something else. The first fifteen minutes of the film was enough to make my mother join me and watch the classic. The end scene in Guide, where Raju is leaving his body and his soul is speaking of life and death is a scene, which as a rule, I watch at least twice, going back and forth and reflecting for hours on the character of Raju guide.
Never did I know that the very next day, these lines would completely change its meaning forever. From now on, whenever I would listen to those lines, they’ll remind me of Dev Anand, and not Raju Guide.
Here’s what Dev Saab must be saying from up above:
Lagta hai aaj har iccha poori ho gayi,
Par ab maza dekho, aaj koi iccha hi nahi rahi !
Zindagi pighalkar prakash ban gayi,
Aur sacchaai mera roop hai !
Tan rahe na rahe , main rahoonga!
Na sukh hai, na dukh hai
Na deen hai, na duniya
Na insaan , na bhagwaan
Sirf main hoon, main hoon….