, as Dev Anand is fondly called, is the most amazing person I have come across. In fact, my life would have been quite different if I had not met him in 1969. I was reading English at St Stephen’s College and he was working on his first directorial film
. At a time it was infra-dig for guys of my age and milieu to even watch Hindi films, I made up my mind that Bollywood was my career. This was met with derision from friends and family. Yet, I kept meeting Dev saab during his visits to Delhi. And finally landed in Mumbai to work with him. Like many before me and many since, he moulded my career with care and affection.
Not many people realise that Dev saab has been a fountainhead for talent for the past 60 years. Guru Dutt, Raj Khosla, Mohan Sehgal, Vijay Anand, Yash Johar, Ali Akbar Khan, Jaidev, Johnny Walker, Shatrughan Sinha, Zeenat Aman, Jackie Shroff, Tina Munim, Richa Sharma, Tabu… and countless artistes, directors, writers, cameramen, recordists and technicians — the list of people who got their breaks in his production company Navketan is intimidating. If you add his body of work as an actor, producer, director — Baazi, Taxi Driver, Paying Guest, Nau Do Gyarah, CID, Hum Dono, Jab Pyar Kisi Se Hota Hai, Guide, Jewel Thief, Johnny Mera Naam, Tere Mere Sapne, Hare Rama Hare Krishna, Des Pardes, to name a few — his is an unparelled role in the Bollywood saga.
Dev Anand is the quintessential star. Sauvé, stylised, debonair, educated and media-friendly. He was our first style icon, our first superstar. His oeuvre as an actor is also outstanding. One of the first actors to play a leading man with grey shades in Baazi and Jaal, he has played an entire gamut of roles. While most actors acknowledge the influence of Dilip Kumar, not many realise the subliminal effect Dev saab has had on them, specially in romantic scenes and songs.
It is universally accepted that SD Burman gave his best score for Navketan, but others like Jaidev, R.D. Burman, Laxmikant-Pyarelal, Rajesh Roshan and Bappi Lahiri too composed some exceptional songs. Sahir, Majrooh, Shailendra, Neeraj wrote some of their best poetry for Dev saab.
Most people who interact with him even today remark on his energy and zest for life. At an age when most people totter about, wallowing in lost glory, Dev saab is filming his latest, Chargesheet. It’s his innate ability to look forward unmindful of the past.
(The writer, chairman of Reliance Entertainment, is also a former lyricist and journalist)