“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 on the tape recorder. My maternal aunt, who used to hymn this song repeatedly, played the record many times.
I didn’t know who the actor was and what the song was all about. I was three or even four, and to date, there are glimpses of me holding onto our drawing room sofa and above me was the cassette player. A 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 an eight-year-old kid, the movie I enjoyed watching was ‘Awwal Number’ not because of the story but because of its cricket. 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 unique 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 wrote the novel and Dev Anand had produced this movie directed by his younger brother Vijay.
Looking back, the curiosity of Guide took me deep into my hobby of researching movies. Before this, I knew the facts of some movies but never went a step ahead in knowing its intricacies.
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 another 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.
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 to learn about Dev Anand movies.
My mom was a kid and 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 learn more about the film he used to watch and, in particular, about Dev Anand.
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 important man details; I like that thing in him.
We started our conversation on movies. By that time, my quotient on Old Hindi movies was getting enriched with many internet researchers and reading backdated Filmfare issues (I used to subscribe to them) and the introduction of the Star Gold channel on television.
I was fifteen and a 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 Anand 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 was left heartbroken when Suraiya’s grandmother rejected his proposal 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 films were released in 1951.
I remember watching the movie ‘Taxi driver’ on a Sunday morning a 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 English literature background.
Nevertheless, his titles were unique to the movie generation of the 1950s and next. House No. 44, C.I.D, Paying Guest, Love Marriage, Jewel Thief, Gambler, etc.
During ‘Taxi driver,’ he got interested in Mona Singh, aka Kalpana Karthik, and married after the movie got released. The pair went steady to date.
In my short movie research history, I can say no one has been given such admiration despite how movies performed at the box-office.
Since 1971, he has made 33 movies (the latest being ‘Charge sheet’ released in Sep 2011), but none hit the top mark. But yet, he went on….. It 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 memory of Dev Anand.
She recalls ‘Hum Dono’ a lot, which happens to be one of the first double-acting movies in Indian movie history.
Widely termed as the Gregory Peck of Bollywood, he had created his 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 the Indian audience, the first stand out the 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 tremendous towering personality of positivity has left the world. Dev Anand, 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.