(1953): One of Dev Saab's unknown gems. Based on litterateur Mulk Raj Anand's story The Wayfarer, the film about the relationship between British colonists and Indians was shot in a neo-realistic light by progressive intellectual director KA Abbas. Very seldom did Dev Anand step into the territory of the unwaveringly experimental cinema. He did so in Rahi. The film was internationally celebrated. Dev saab and his leading lady Nalini Jaywant went to Russia with the film. It blew the Soviets' minds. Nowadays the film is hardy ever screened at any Dev Anand festival.
On Dev Anand's 90th birth anniversary, here's a look at his alluring cinematic journey that continues to inspire one and all.
Paying Guest (1957): Nutan and Dev Anand were fantastic together. They did two lovely romantic-comedies and Subodh Mukherjee's Paying Guest scores over Vijay Anand's Tere Ghar Ke Samne. Both the wonderful stars were younger and looked so much in love under the fake studio moon.
Kala Pani (1958): Dev Anand as a man out to prove his jailed father's innocence exuded so much intense determination that you wondered where and how he found those gaps in his mission to romance the very lovely Madhubala and Nalini Jaywant. Raj Khosla's new best how to tap Dev Anand's arrogant romanticism.
Bombai Ka Baboo (1960): An absolute knockout of a movie directed by the very gifted Raj Khosla, who directed Dev Anand in a number of films from CID in 1956 to Shareef Badmash in 1973. Bombai Ka Baboo portrayed a subtly incestuous relationship. Dev Saab played a fugitive on the run who pretends to be the son of a couple and falls in love with the daughter (Suchitra Sen). In the end, Dev Anand had to send off the woman he loves to her sasural as his sister! The song "Chal ri sajni" still echoes in our hearts. A must-see.
Hum Dono (1961): The dramatic film about look-alikes, who were not twins (and that was unusual) and who swap lives. The film saw Dev Anand don a double role with much gusto. Yup, the moustache helped. But Dev Anand remained Dev Anand no matter what he played. And he seldom used disguises. His pairing here with Sadhana seemed blessed by divinity. Hard to say whom Dev Saab paired the best with -- Sadhana, Nutan, Waheeda Rehman, Raakhee or Hema Malini.
Guide (1965): It is the film that defines Dev Anand's career. Raju, the Guide who guides Rosy's career into stardom and falls deep into the morass of corruption and damnation came alive as a real character, blemishes and all. This is the one film that would keep Dev Anand alive in cinema forever.
Jewel Thief (1967): Vijay Anand loved casting his star-brother in roles about dual personalities. In Jewel Thief, Dav saab played his own character's double who didn't exist. To find out just how that worked, you had to go through a goldmine of gorgeous girls Vyjayanthimala, Tanuja, Helen, Fariyal ... and terrific songs climaxed by the breathless "Honthon mein aisi baat" where Dev generously allowed his leading lady to take centrestage.
Johny Mera Naam (1970): With the film, he made a glorious comeback after the debacle of his directorial debut Prem Pujari. Johny Mera Naam was a compelling kitsch concoction about two long-lost brothers, several villains and a vamp who stripped for Premnath to an Asha Bhosle song Husn ke laakhon rang that to date remains the most suggestive song-and-dance ever shot in a Hindi film. Vijay Anand made sure every song highlighted Dev Saab's ebullience and nonchalant attitude. Come to think of it, this was Dev Saab's sexiest film ever.
Tere Mere Sapne (1971): A year after the classic kitschy tale in Johny Mera Naam, Vijay Anand directed his star-brother in this sensitive film about a doctor's descent from nobility to corruption. Mumtaz, who stepped in at the last minute to replace Sharmila Tagore, revealed herself to be one of Bollywood's finest dramatic actresses. The film is suffused with the sounds of sorrow and romance, regret and nostalgia. Its failure broke Dev saab's heart.
Hare Rama Hare Krishna (1971): By far Dev Saab's best film, this was a charming tender story of siblings separated by squabbling parents (Kishore Sahu and Achala Sachdev). Shot in Kathmandu, the film has an aura of mystery and tragedy surrounding the plot and characters. Dev saab and Zeenat Aman were perfect as siblings, so perfect that all subsequent attempts to cast them as romantic leads collapsed.