The Enigma of Dev Anand: An Actor’s Insights on Romance and Stardom

Ranjan's Revealing Conversations with Dev Anand: Was Guru Dutt an escapist?” Devsaab retorted, ”Not at all. Every human being is in confident at sometime of his life. My best friend Guru Dutt gave me my style in Baazi and made me a big star. He was innovative and poetic.

Ranjan do you know Chetan Anand wanted to edit my court scenes in Aandhiyan for the international version?” Dev Anand stated this to me in the middle 90s. Ever since November, 1988, I had numerous conversations with the evergreen legend and his talented brothers, Chetan and Vijay Anand, and Devsaab’s friend Raj Khasla.

Astonished at his grievance on his more gifted elder brother, I questioned, ”Devsaab, what was the ultimate result? Thinking for a while, Devsaab said, ”After Nimmi and I persuaded stating the scenes had our memorable performances, Bhaiji (Chetan Anand) understood and obliged us. He was dynamic, unpredictable and versatile. The way, he shot the song sequence Jaye To Jaye Kahan on me in Taxi Driver remains a lesson in song picturisation. “There were tears in Devsaab’s eyes. In fact this song by Talat Mehmood had a brilliant play of light and shade in love with the Arabian Sea and nature cinematographed by V Ratra.

In a later interaction, I asked him, ”Did you have grudges against your elder brother?” Devsaab smiled and replied, ”How can I bear any grudge against him who taught me acting? You know the climax of Baazi was partially handled by Chetanbhai after an in confident Guru Dutt who was the director took recluse in Bangalore. Cinematographer VK Murthy, Geeta Bali and I brought him back restored confidence in him and Guru Dutt completed Baazi really well.

My interest grew about the subject, I questioned further, ”Was Guru Dutt an escapist?” Devsaab retorted, ”Not at all. Every human being is in confident at sometime of his life. My best friend Guru Dutt gave me my style in Baazi and made me a big star. He was innovative and poetic. The song Le Ke Pahela Pahela Pyar in CID was Guru Dutt’s idea and visualization well directed by his former chief assistant Raj Khosla.”

Whenever we conversed, Devsaab opened his heart to me. “Ranjan” affectionately addressing me by my first name, he once said, ”My romance with Suraiya was calf love. I got married to Mona Singha (Kalpana Kartik) in a natural manner. I objected, “Devsaab, this is not your original self speaking!” He flashed his famous toothless smile and confessed, ”Why do you try to bring out that original self I keep it myself? My romance with Suraiya was the tale of the jasmine. My marriage to Mona the saga of the honey suckle.”

dev anand birth centenary chetan vijay suraiya
Dev Anand

I asked him many times, about his talented younger brother Vijay Anand and friend Raj Khosla. Devsaab always said with affection, ”Goldie (Vijay Anand), a brilliant filmmaker knew me enough to bring the best out of me in every film we worked together. Initially I was hesitant to perform my death scene in Guide. I felt my tragic performance would not get well with the audience. Strict task masters Goldie and cinematographer Fali Mistry, stuck to the script, convinced me and helped me to deliver shots of our lifetime.”

“Raj Khosla though not as talented as Guru Dutt, had a good sense of music and handled emotions and suspense well. He made me emote effortlessly in Kalapani and Bombai Ka Babu. The silent romantic scenes he shot with Suchitra Sen and me are excellent. Later he developed a habit of drinking too much and lost form.”

“Devsaab, you paired so well with every heroine of you era from the late 40s to the early 70s. Were you conscious in performing your romantic scenes which are legion? He burst into laughter, ”A conscious actor can never give a memorable performance. If I did not have talent I would not have achieved the peaks I did on mere basis of style, dash and good looks.”

After viewing Birha Ki Raat, I discovered that Dev Anand and Nargis formed an attractive pair. So when I asked him about the film, Devsaab was astonished, “How do you remember such old films? The scene you mentioned about Nargis holding my hand and I emoting saying, Yeh Birha Kyun, was shot in one take by director Gajanan Jagirdar.”

“Why did you comment adversely about Rajesh Khanna that to tell you about him if he lasted for ten years at the top,” I enquired. Devsaab sharply denied, “I am not a fool to make such obnoxious comments about a young talented actor who was my Brother Chetan Anand’s discovery? I was grossly misquoted. I explained it to Rajesh, who understood. We respected each other.”

One question to which Devsaab was emotional was, “Is not the song Aye Dil Kahan Teri Manzil from Maya a reflection of your life?” After a pause he answered, ”A dangerous question from you. Yes, it did reflect on some deep aspects of my life. Sau Saal Pahele from Jab Pyar Kissi Se Hota Hai is a great romantic duet I lipped with Asha Parekh.

Ranjan Das Gupta

is a Kolkata-based independent journalist. He has been doing freelance work for more than 3 decades and writes on arts & culture, cinema, politics, healthcare and education

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