IT’S NOT just an era that has ended. Curtains have come down on many an era with the demise of Bollywood’s evergreen romantic hero and fashion icon Dev Anand, who has breathed his last in a London hospital. For, Dharam Dev Anand or Dev
Saab, was still very much in the thick of it – the filmmaking business – when he finally “hung his boot” at age 88.
In a recent interview by an Indian news channel, Dev Saab was asked to comment on “his era’s” filmmakers. He fumed. And then thundered: “Look here, today’s filmmakers are my contemporaries. I am still in the business…”
That, arguably, was the quintessential Dev. Bubbling with life with an almost infectious energy. Style guru. Suave to a fault. A romantic to the core. A never-say-die diehard.
That, probably, is the reason why we are all finding it a tad difficult to come to terms with his demise and we are all humming that memorable tune from one of his blockbusters… abhi na jao chhor kar (don’t go away leaving me right now).
From his debut in Hum Ek Hain (We Are One) in 1946, to Chargesheet this year (2011), it was a journey sans break for him. His last recognised hit Des Pardes (Home and Away) may have come more than three decades back (1978), prompting many to ponder what made him tick thus far, but Dev Saab had his rationale: “I cannot live without my films, my cinema and my work.”
This writer remembers having written an article on the legendary actor some eight years ago for a weekly broadsheet and the editors being logged in a logjam over a ‘suitable’ headline. After a lot of sweat, one (headline) was suggested and all agreed: ‘Life begins at 80’.
There was something about Dev that few among his peers — both contemporary and those that came later — could lay claim on. Hope. That’s it.
Dev would inspire an almost unapologetic hope among his fans, for decades. Even now it’s routine for many to count on some of the tunes from his classics to resuscitate their energies, or to regroup after a brush with some slippery mud: Har fikr to dhuen me udata chala haya… (I kept on blowing away all my worries with the puff).
Living life on his own terms
A self-made man, Dev had lived life on his own terms. He was one of the last ‘originals’ of Bollywood.
Alas, we shall see no more that trademark tilted nod of the head. That quick burst of words. That wanton walk. That unassuming, but markedly disarming, smile.
We feel like humming it all over again…those very lines: abhi na jao…
(This article first appeared in the Times of Oman newspaper on December 5, 2011. Click the link to the PDF below to view the page)