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Monday, June 09, 2014  

"The last man standing": A tribute to Dev Anand

"Born in Gurdaspur of undivided Punjab to a well-to-do advocate Pishorimal Anand on September 26, 1923, Dharamdev Pishorimal Anand - popularly called Dev Anand - graduated in English literature from the Government Law College in Lahore. His brothers were eminent film personalities Chetan Anand and Vijay Anand. His sister Sheel Kanta Kapur is the mother of director Shekhar Kapur."

Arup Ghosh

   

Probably it is best he went suddenly.

He would have hated being hospitalized, confined to a bed. In any case he hated being called old and ably fought time. The fact his health was failing was visible during the release of the coloured version of “Hum Dono”. Holding onto his son’s hand for support this was not the Dev Anand we were accustomed to seeing. It hurt almost to see the once handsome and charming actor being reduced to skin and bones.

It explains why aging actors often turn reclusive. They want to leave a certain imprint behind. Not Dev Anand. He was keen on embracing every moment without shying away.

Dev closely modelled himself on Hollywood actor Gregory Peck. They looked similar but Dev developed his own mannerisms along the way.

If you watch his earlier films the sloping walk and other exaggerations are not there. They crept in later. What worked for him were his incredible charm and the ability to light up the screen.

He sang, he danced and charmed his leading ladies with ease. The staccato, breathless dialogue delivery became all his own. Yet Dev was never a very accomplished actor. He knew it and worked within certain parameters.

In his career spanning over six decades as an actor-producer and director, Dev Anand gave countless hits like Guide, Paying Guest, Baazi, Jewel Thief , CID, Johny Mera Naam, Amir Garib, Warrant, Hare Rama Hare Krishna and Des Pardes.

When his contemporaries like Raj Kapoor and Dilip Kumar stopped being the leading men in movies, Dev continued to woo young heroines in movies like Johnny Mera Naam, Des Pardes, Hare Rama Hare Krishna among others till 1983.

Dev made his debut as an actor in 1946 in Hum Ek Hain. By the time his Ziddi was released in 1947 he was a superstar and never looked back. He made his directorial debut with 'Prem Pujari', which was a flop.

He directed Hare Rama Hare Krishna in 1971, which went on to become a cult hit for describing the prevalent hippie culture of that time.

Born in Gurdaspur of undivided Punjab to a well-to-do advocate Pishorimal Anand on September 26, 1923, Dharamdev Pishorimal Anand - popularly called Dev Anand - graduated in English literature from the Government Law College in Lahore. His brothers were eminent film personalities Chetan Anand and Vijay Anand. His sister Sheel Kanta Kapur is the mother of director Shekhar Kapur.

His brother Vijay “Goldie” Anand brought out the best in him. Not just the brilliant “Guide”, even in films like “Tere Mere Sapne” the honesty of purpose was visible. “Jewel Thief” and the path-breaking caper “Johnny Mera Naam” were ventures where a director knew how to harness the actor’s capabilities. A quick comparison with Clint Eastwood won’t hurt here.

It is re-inventing the second half, which becomes most difficult and it is here intelligence and adaptability emerge as key factors. Dev was not good in the second coming. He was no longer the leading man and could never see himself as a character actor. Dev, in his mind’s eye, was always the hero: The last man standing.

With Goldie no longer directing, Dev chose modern subjects with poor screenplays and an outdated style of storytelling. His famed mannerisms were now seen as parodies. The films died at the point of release.

But Dev’s energy, push and lust for life remained undying.

His title “Evergreen” remains his biggest victory. Most of his fans would choose to remember him on a breezy day serenading a lovely lady with the most indescribable charm ever.
Probably it is best he went suddenly.

(Author is a senior TV Journalist and Producer. He heads Network1 Media at Present.)

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