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Evergreen Dev Anand

 NOSTALGIA

 

The nation fondly remembers late Dev Anand-one of the greatest and most influential actors in the history of Indian cinema on his 94th birth anniversary on September 26 next. Dev Anand was India's highest paid movie stars from 1955 to 1965. The third of four sons, Dharam Devdutt Pishorimal Anand was born in the Shakargarh tehsil of the Gurdaspur district in Punjab (British India). Anand spent his early years in Gharota village and holds a Bachelor degree in English literature from the Government College of Lahore in British India. He left his home-town for Bombay in the early 1940s. 

He began his career in the military censor's office at Churchgate, for a monthly salary of one hundred and sixty five rupees. Later he joined as a clerk in an accounting firm for a salary of eighty five rupees. He joined his elder brother, Chetan Anand as a member of the Indian People's Theatre Association (IPTA).

Dev Anand aspired to become a performer after seeing Ashok Kumar's performance in films like Achhut Kanya (1936) and Kismet (1943). Dev Anand once quoted in an interview, "I remember when I gate-crashed into the office of the man who gave me the first break, he kept looking at me - Babu Rao Pai of Prabhat Film Studios. At that time he made up his mind that this boy deserves a break and later mentioned to his people that 'this boy struck me because of his smile and beautiful eyes and his tremendous confidence.'" Then he was soon offered the lead role in Prabhat Films' Hum Ek Hain (1946) where Dev Anand was paired opposite Kamala Kotnis. 

While shooting for the film in Pune, Anand befriended actor Guru Dutt and they agreed that if one of them were to become successful in the film industry, the other would help the first to be successful. They formed a mutual understanding that when Anand produced a film, Dutt would direct it and when Dutt directed a film, Anand would act in it. 

Anand was offered his first big break by Ashok Kumar. He spotted Anand hanging around in the studios and picked him as the hero for the Bombay Talkies production Ziddi (1948), co-starring Kamini Kaushal, which became an instant hit. After Ziddi's success, Anand decided that he would start producing films. In 1949, he launched his own company Navketan Films along with his elder brother Chetan Anand which has produced 35 films.

In the late 1940s, Anand was offered a few roles starring as the male lead opposite singer-actress Suraiya in woman-oriented films. He considered himself to be very lucky to get a chance to star opposite such an established actress and accepted the offers. While shooting these films, they became romantically involved. The two of them were paired in seven films together like Vidya (1948), Jeet (1949), Shair (1949), Afsar (1950), Nili (1950), Do Sitare (1951) and Sanam (1951), all of which were successful at the box office. 

In these films, Suraiya was always first-biller in the credits, indicating that she was a bigger star than Anand. She fell in love with him during the shooting of the song 'Kinare Kinare Chale Jayenge' from the film Vidya. While shooting the song, the boat they were in capsized and Anand saved Suraiya from drowning. Initially, Suraiya's family used to welcome Dev Anand at home, but when her maternal grandmother found out that the two were in love, and even planned an actual marriage on the sets of the movie Jeet, she started monitoring them. The two even shared love letters and messages through their co-actors like Durga Khote and Kamini Kaushal. On the sets of the film Jeet, Anand finally proposed Suraiya and gave her a diamond ring worth rupees three thousand. But her maternal grandmother opposed the relationship as Dev Anand was a Hindu. Suraiya remained unmarried throughout her life till she died in 2004.

In 1954, Dev Anand married Kalpana Kartik, a Bollywood actress, originally from Shimla, in a very private marriage during the shooting of the film Taxi Driver (1954). Kartik was a Christian and they have two children, Suneil Anand and Devina Anand Narang.

Dev Anand's first colour film, Guide opposite Waheeda Rahman, directed by Vijay Anand, was an acclaimed movie. The movie was based on the novel of the same name by RK Narayan. Dev Anand himself was the impetus for making the film version of the book. He met and persuaded Narayan to give his assent to the project. Dev Anand tapped his friends in Hollywood to launch an Indo-US co-production that was shot in Hindi and English simultaneously and was released in 1965. 

Filmmaker Nasir Husain, early on in his career, wrote for Subodh Mukerji's films Munimji (1955), Paying Guest (1957) and Love Marriage (1959) - all featuring Dev Anand. Husain himself directed Dev sahab (as he was better known as) in Jab Pyar Kisise Hota Hai (1961). So when he was about to embark on his next project, it was natural to cast Dev Anand on the lead. The film was Teesri Manzil (1966). 

Concurrently, producer-director and brother Vijay Anand was supposed to direct Baharon Ke Sapne with Rajesh Khanna and Asha Parekh. While the two films were set, at an engagement party at Pali Hill in Bandra, Mumbai, for the actress Sadhana with RK Nayyar, Dev Anand and Nasir Husain had a major disagreement. Apparently, Nasir sahab overheard Dev Anand saying that, Husain was doing a big colour film with him and he (Husain) had given Goldie (Vijay Anand) a black and white film with some new chap Rajesh (Khanna). Nasir Husain got very upset with this which resulted in a bit of an altercation and they had to be pulled apart. This allowed Shammi Kapoor, a former hero of NH Films, to come back in the fold. 

Baharon Ke Sapne was a script that Nasir saheb had written during his college days. So later he declared that he himself would direct Baharon Ke Sapne and Vijay Anand would direct Teesri Manzil that too without Dev Anand! This was the tale of how Dev Anand was cast out of the film and Shammi Kapoor walked in to play Rocky in Teesri Manzil opposite Asha Parekh. Dev Anand never worked again with Husain again, sadly, after the blockbuster Teesri Manzil, neither did Kapoor.

Dev Anand reunited with Vijay Anand in 1967 for the movie Jewel Thief and Johny Mera Naam (1970). His directorial debut, the espionage drama Prem Pujari (1970), was a flop but has developed a cult following over the years. The film introduced Zaheeda and had Waheeda Rehman as the lead female artiste. His directorial debut in 1971 with Hare Rama Hare Krishna was also much talked about for the unusual hippie culture as the theme. 

Dev Anand has directed 19 films and produced 35 films of which 7 were directorial ventures. Critics say his directorial ventures have always been ahead of their time. Some films boosted Anand's image as the evergreen star even though he was well into his fifties. For instance, he was already 55 when he was paired with Tina Munim in 1978 in Des Pardes, which became among the top five grossing films of the year. Dev Anand is credited with giving actors like Shatrughan Sinha in Prem Pujari, Zarina Wahab in Ishq Ishq Ishq (1974), Jackie Shroff in Swami Dada (1982), Tabu in Hum Naujawan (1985) and Richa Sharma (Sanjay Dutt's first wife) a break in the film industry, discovering Zeenat Amaan and Tina Munim.

The Government of India honoured him with the Padma Bhushan in 2001 and the Dadasaheb Phalke Award in 2002 for his contribution to Indian cinema. His career spanned more than 65 years, acting in 114 Hindi films, of which 92 had him play the main solo lead hero, and two English films. He was the recipient of the Filmfare Award for Best Actor for his performances in Kala Pani and Guide, the latter being India's official entry to the Oscars. In 1969, Dev Anand became a member of the jury at the 6th Moscow International Film Festival.

Critics and audiences have frequently regarded Anand as one of Bollywood's most charismatic, handsome and charming actor. Dev Anand was titled as Mr. Evergreen by film critics and analysts. He is remembered as an energetic person, through-out the industry.