“Hai Apna Dil tho Awara” (movie Solva Saal), these words were slightly inquisitive to me as a child and I vividly remember listening to this in the tape recorder. My maternal aunt, who used to hymn this song repeatedly, played the record many a times. I didn’t know who the actor was and what was the song all about. I was three or even four and till date, there are glimpses of me holding onto our drawing room sofa and above me was the cassette player. Few years later, I got to know the actor being Dev Anand and my aunt was just one among million fans of his.
Interestingly enough, as a eight year old kid, the movie I enjoyed watching was ‘Awwal Number’ not because of the story but because of the cricket in it. I lived my school years watching his movies sporadically as and when it appeared on television, until one fine day….
That particular moment happened sometime in 2000, as I was looking for some old classics, I found this CD. Mohd Rafi and Dev Anand and thus started a special journey. ‘Tere Mere Sapne Ab Ek Rang Hai…..’
I had three weeks before my final exam and I was hooked to this song. The movie was Guide and it starred Waheeda Rehman alongside Dev Anand. R.K Narayan had written the novel and Dev Anand had produced this movie which was directed by his younger brother Vijay. Looking back, the curiosity of Guide took me deep into my hobby of researching movies. Prior to this, I knew facts of some movies but never went a step ahead in knowing the intricacies of it. I wanted to know why such a song existed in the movie Guide. Why is the title of the movie ‘Guide’? Why not any other Hindi name?
With such heavy thoughts, I was not entirely focused on the upcoming exams. While I was solving problems in the college library, and while picking up books, I saw the novel ‘Guide’ lying on the table next to a rack. Instead of two books of mathematics, I took one and other being ‘Guide.’
I so wished Guide to be part of my English class, it would have helped me reading and look like a stud in front of my English teachers (mostly they were females). But my thirst for knowing more about Guide overpowered any such thoughts and seamlessly, I began reading. The story of Raju, the Guide his encounter with Rosy, the dancer and her recluse husband Marcos and Raju’s friend Gaffur, the driver; I could visualise why such a song would have been written. I felt at the end of Guide, it wasn’t just about Raju I wanted to know, it was about the man and his movies that brought ‘Raju’ to the screen. Like a good boy, I finished my exams and then started my quest on knowing more on Dev Anand movies.
My mom was a kid and really young when Dev Anand was at his peak and hence my information was limited, nevertheless she provided a lot of facts concerning him. It so happened while spending post exam holidays with my grandparents I got to know more about my grandpa’s fascination for movies and wanted to know more about the movies he used to watch and in particular about Dev Anand.
Just to give an idea, my maternal grandfather is a great conversationalist and let it be any topic, he would have his opinion and always in a way the other person would want to hear. He made people laugh while conversing and yet he provided man important details; I really like that thing in him.
We started our conversation on movies and by that time my quotient on Old Hindi movies was getting enriched with many internet researchers and by reading backdated issues of Filmfare (I used to subscribe them) and the introduction of Star Gold channel on television. I was fifteen and few months older by this time as I went about watching his movies and collecting all his favourite songs.
His movies echoed something new each time since his debut in 1946. After his debut in ‘Hum Ek Hain’ he had to wait a good two years before he was toasted as the next big thing. The 1948 movie ‘Ziddi’ made him an instant superstar and raving on the success, Dev Saab got into the movie production business not surprisingly the production name was Navketan International was formed in 1949-50. Navketan means ‘newness’.
He was successfully paired with established actress Suraiya and even was left heartbroken when his proposal was rejected by Suraiya grandmother because of religious issues. Dev Saab and Suraiya made seven movies together and all were a success at the box-office. The last of the seven movies was released in 1951.
I remember watching the movie ‘Taxi driver’ on a Sunday morning long time ago. I was fascinated by the movie titles he came up with, especially the English titles. I am not sure if this was due to his heavy Hollywood influence or his background in English literature. Nevertheless, his titles were unique to the movie generation of the 1950’s and next. House No. 44, C.I.D, Paying Guest, Love Marriage, Jewel Thief, Gambler etc. It was during the filming of ‘Taxi driver’, he got interested in Mona Singh aka Kalpana Karthik and married after the movie got released. The pair went steady till date.
In my short movie research history, I can say no one has been given such adulation in spite of how movies performed in the box-office. Since 1971, he made 33 movies (latest being ‘Charge sheet’ which released in Sep 2011) but none hit the top mark. But yet, he went on….. Reminds me of the line ‘Mein Zindagi ka saath Nibata Chal Gaya’ from Hum Dono, the very same song I remember my granny hymning while cooking my favourite dishes. She gives a smile and has her own memory of Dev Anand. She remembers ‘Hum Dono’ a lot, which happens to be one of the first double acting movies in the Indian movie history.
Widely termed as the Gregory Peck of Bollywood, he had created his own niche in the movie industry. Be it dialogue delivery, the head nods or the style with which he went about making movies; it was creative in motion. He introduced the gangster movies to Indian audience, the first stand out romantic hero of Bollywood, an experimenter having many pot-boilers to his credit and the songs. Oh yes, the songs that will remain forever with ages to come. No wonder he chose the title ‘Romancing Life’ as the name for his autobiography.
He is no more and the great towering personality of positivity has left the world. Dev Saab known as the ‘ever green’ star was always full of life, a life filled with optimism. Again my mind goes back to the movie Guide and I remember the line, ‘Aaj phir Jeene ki Tamanna Hai’ (I would like to live again today) and it was how he lived his 88 years living each day.