You were supposed to have been immortal…

Of course, we are all mortal but if there’s one person whose passing away one is actually unable to take at all, it is Dev Anand. He was so full of living life to its fullest – the man was life itself.

Part of the famed Trimurti of heroes who ruled the Hindi film Industry through the 1950s and 60s (the other two being Dilip Kumar and Raj Kapoor), Dev Saab continued to be hyperactive with his unbridled energy and infectious enthusiasm right through to the end, making his films. When he finished one, he simply moved on to the next not caring about their critical or commercial fate. Even at the time of his death in London, he was full of plans for his next film.

I was fortunate to meet the perennially young and legendary hero not once but twice. The first time during a typical rainy monsoon day in Mumbai, I banged into him (literally!) on the steps of the Navketan office causing his umbrella to go tumbling down the wooden stairs! I was an assistant director then, waiting to meet him to get his signature on the Navketan letterhead granting permission to use an extract of Dum Maro Dum from Hare Rama Hare Krishna (incidentally the first film I ever ‘saw’ in the theatre) for a show on the History of Hindi Film Music, I was assisting on. Having waited a bit for him as he had not yet arrived in office, I told his man in the office that I would come back the following day as I had a huge list of jobs to do for the show that day. And as I left the office, I banged into the great man himself climbing up the stairs. Dev Saab met me pronto then, apologized for keeping me waiting (I was embarrassed at the apology) and immediately gave me the required signature. Needless to say, this raw, naive young assistant director was floored. I met Dev Saab again a couple of years ago, as part of a project on the Golden age of Indian cinema – the 1950s and early 60s – wherein I’ve met many of the people who worked in that era. Listening to the all time greats talking about their experiences, each such meeting has ended with regret – why was one not born at a time when one could have been part of this era?

Anyway moving on, the meeting was fixed by Mr Raj Singh Dungarpur, a good friend of Dev Saab and sadly, also no more. Along with Mr Dungarpur, us usual suspects – Shivi, Arwa and me – met Dev Saab at his office. The meeting was more on recollecting his friendship and interactions with Guru Dutt down the years right from the time they met at Prabhat (now FTII) in Pune in the 1940s when the dhobi mixed up their shirts. He spoke of his pact with Guru Dutt that they would work together once he turned producer and his keeping his promise to Guru Dutt by giving him his directorial debut, Baazi (1951), his production house Navketan’s second production. As I mentioned earlier, a bundle of unbridled energy and infectious enthusiasm, his memory was intact and he remembered tiny, tiny details from various anecdotes and patiently answered whatever we asked him even if he occasionally lapsed into reaffirming repeatedly that he was Dev Anand – a self made man who had made it on his own. Among other incidents, he recalled with a naughty glint in his eyes that he used to lend his shack on the beach to Guru Dutt to use to spend ‘quality’ time with Geeta Dutt when the two were courting each other!

As the media broke the news of Dev Saab’s death and the TV channels began taking bytes from various personalities, more than the others, I couldn’t help but be moved by Waheeda Rehman his co-star of CID (1956), Solva Saal (1958), Kala Bazar (1960), Roop ki Rani Choron ka Raja (1961), Baat Ek Raat Ki (1962), Guide (1965) and Prem Pujari (1970), who was crying even as she spoke glowingly about Dev Saab straight from the heart…

Looking at all the reactions pouring in at Dev Saab’s death, the one common factor is that no one can believe he’s really gone. Everyone just felt that like Alfred Lord Tennyson’s brook, men may come and men may go but Dev Saab would go on forever! In fact, it was almost as if the word evergreen was coined keeping Dev Saab in mind. But coming back full circle from the beginning, mortal we all are, yes even Dev Anand…

Taking a cue from Time Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Evita,

You let down your people Dev Saab
You were supposed to have been immortal
That’s all they wanted
Not much to ask for
But in the end you could not deliver…

RIP Dev Anand. There’ll never be one like you again!


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  1. i personally feel he was a man of the future so much so that he would not even like us reminiscing his past. My distinct memory of that interview was his conversation with Mr. Raj Singh wherein he explained that he planned to fly on a chopper and distribute his book (his autobiography was scheduled to realise shortly if i am not mistaken )by throwing them to the fans awaiting to get a glimpse of him below in london. What a man! What a life! What a death! – very well scripted.

  2. Yeah Arwa he always prefered to look ahead, but it was nice of him to turn back the clock for us. There’s so much more one remembers about that meeting – of course, the book incident for one, his schoolboy like excitement on the climax of his film, Mr Prime Minister. I remember he was looking forward to starting Charge Sheet then…

    Oh nice photo by the way, ms camerawoman! 🙂

  3. The rainy day encounter, Punjab-da-Puttar, is straight from the films. And so is Charu’s story about yelling outside his house. I used to always look at the rooms above Studio 1 in FTII, and think of Dev Saheb. For some reason, I associated those rooms with him. Maybe one of the old studio hands had mentioned that he used to use one of them for his make up room.

  4. Well Batul, Dev Anand was always THE star on and off the screen. What say Charu, my little friend? 🙂

    And yes, it is likely he used the rooms there for make up – he did do two films with Prabhat – Hum Ek Hain (1946), his first film, and Aage Badho (1947). And he shared accomodation in Pune with Guru Dutt, Rehman and if I remember right, Ramsingh and the lot had taken up a place somewhere near Fergusson College near Vaishali where the Barista is.

  5. I grew up in the same neighborhood as this great man. His house was on the way to Juhu beach and at times, just for kicks we kids would stand outside his house and scream ‘aaye Dev!” and run /cycle away. Once he caught us unaware and said ‘yes my little friends?” and gave us that killer smile. He was so sophisticated!
    Also, I have faint memories of him campaigning in our locality for the Janata party candidate during the post emergency elections in 76/77.

  6. Sanjay, no doubt the work of great artists lives on even after they’ve gone and in that sense they are immortal. But Dev Saab came perhaps the closest in making you believe that physical immortatility is possible too! 🙂

  7. I feel differently, but only slightly, i think people like him never really die, they are immortal. The volume of stuff that people like him leave behind is so huge that lifetimes aren’t sufficient to live them once.Dev sahab is so deeply ingrained in my heart that he is my childhood, my youth and the entire rest of it is spent pining for reliving them again. Dev Sahab for me you are so integral part of my growing up years, the music, the lyrics, the films, it is difficult to separate myself from you. For me you will always be alive, somewhere deep inside me, till my last breath. It is the physical aspect of you that is not there anymore, but the spirit is and will always be evergreen.

  8. The first time I saw Roman Holiday as a kid, I wondered what Dev Anand was doing there on the screen, so uncanny was the resemblance with Gregory Peck! It’s really a strange feeling to note that people who are in their 60s now, grew up on Dev Anand films when they were in college and narrated their experiences and the influence he had on them vis-a-vis the scarf and jeans and the tilted cap! The man had style! Many of the 60 plus people I am talking about are no longer alive, but Dev went on to live for ever, almost like an institution – an Indian icon that time couldn’t touch and we came around to the conclusion that this man could never die!

  9. Thanks Roopesh, Memsaab!

    Ranjan, Raj Khosla’s Solva Saal (1958) took some ‘inspiration’ from Roman Holiday and starred Gregory Peck, I mean Dev Anand! 😀

  10. Beautifully written, PDP. Indeed Dev saab, more than anybody else, came closest to physical immortality. It was his attitude that he could go on and on, regardless of what anybody said about his latest films, it was that energy that made one feel that he was always going to be young. I daresay I felt a bit cheated when I heard the sad news!

    My first memories of Dev saab are of Johny Mera Naam, HRHK, Prem Pujari – that period. I was an instant fan – and then people of an earlier generation told me that the ” real Dev Anand” was from the B/W era, with the puffed hair and lip-synching songs like “khoya khoya chand”. I began catching up on my Dev Anand backlog – and the more I watched, the more I enjoyed his movies. Baazi, Taxi Driver, CID, Solva Saal, Kaala Pani, Kaala Bazar, Baarish, Jaali Note, Bambai Ka Babu,Baat Ek Raat Ki, Hum Dono, Tere Ghar Ke Saamne, Teen Deviyan, Guide…and more. Just the presence of Dev saab was enough to salvage many a movie – and I for one, never tired of his mannerisms, they were just so reassuring because they were just so DEV SAAB. 🙂

    Never got to meet him (lucky you!) but have been singing songs from his movies ever since the news broke. Even now I’m singing a song from my schooldays (“ruk jaana o jaana humse do baatein”). May his soul rest in peace!

  11. Enjoyed reading the article … Thank you Karan aka PDP 🙂

    My mother has always been a huge fan of Dev Saab & had been listening to songs from his films the whole morning, the day he passed away & when i heard about his passing away, i immediately informed her..

    She was silent for some time, then made me write an obituary in her facebook profile … we saw many programs about Dev saab that ran on TV the whole day & saw the interview on Doordarshan (with suresh Kohli, I think), which impressed me immensely .. The man, his always look forward philosophy & in fact his deep thoughts about various aspects of life, hitherto unknown to me (had always seen him as a hero of yesteryears, now making flop films one after another).. it was a revelation !!

    Since that day, my mother has been cutting out articles, which have been appearing daily in newspapers & pasting them in her scrap book !!!

    An actor, a gentleman & a philosopher .. RIP Dev Saab

  12. Great piece which speaks for all of us,Karan. Yes,the feeling when such souls pass ‘away’ is of disbelief & anger -at d unfairness of it all,at being let down. Thanks for this piece.

  13. Thanks Ashwini. Still difficult to believe Dev Saab is indeed no more. Like you said – there are some people whom we always want to be among us.

  14. बहुमूल्य जानकारी साझा करने के लिए धन्यवाद. देव आनंद के चेहरे पर एक अलग ही चमक थी
    और आँखों में भविष्य के वे सपने जो बाकी के समकालीन देखने को तरस गए. चमक की बहुत सी
    वजहें हैं उनमें से एक है-नियमित किया जाने वाला योग.

    सपनों का इम्प्लीमेंटेशन फिल्म लूटमार के बाद थोडा गड़बड़ा गया. एक नयी पीढ़ी के निर्देशक को
    वे अगर साथ ले लेते जो उनके विज़न को समझने में समर्थ होता तो हमें कुछ और मास्टर पीस देखने
    को मिल जाते. ये मेरा सोचना है ज़रूरी नहीं आप इस बात से सहमत हों क्यूंकि आप खुद एक
    निर्देशक है.

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