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Dev Anand, the fans' fan

"I want to sit in the front," he insisted, and there he was looking out of the window with childlike inquisitiveness. Dev Saheb (the Bollywood legend, Dev Anand) was not the one to miss any sight that came his way. "Sir, you must have seen such highways hundreds of times," I said. Naveen Sharma writes.

punjab Updated: Sep 26, 2013 09:18 IST
Naveen Sharma

"I want to sit in the front," he insisted, and there he was looking out of the window with childlike inquisitiveness. Dev Saheb (the Bollywood legend, Dev Anand) was not the one to miss any sight that came his way. "Sir, you must have seen such highways hundreds of times," I said. "India is always growing and I don't want to miss out any small detail," pat came his reply. "India is so much like you, experienced yet young," added a smiling Mohan Churiwala, his PR chief and Man Friday. We had just started for Chandigarh from Delhi on national highway 1.


Dev Anand, born this day, was a quintessential explorer. To him, Chandigarh was the city unexplored. After a busy day travelling 300 km, talking to the media and satiating fans' curiosity, the evergreen star was game for a late night drive on the Gehri Route. When I told him what youngsters do on the route, he said, "Let's go right now."

Though everything about him was larger than life, Dev Saheb was always down to earth. Style and simplicity ran parallel for him. You could find him wearing a Burberry jacket in a dusty Indian village. He would speak in chaste Punjabi with a fellow Indian while trying out a Clarke's shoe on Oxford Street in London. Making the other person comfortable was his magic mantra. He normally disguised himself partially with hats and jackets while travelling to enjoy his privacy. But whenever any fan would discover him, and walk up to him, Dev Saheb would be his charming self, enquiring about the fan's family, work, happiness and obliging him with as many photos as he/she wished.

His fans were his second love after movies. On September 26, 2007, when his autobiography, Romancing with Life, was released by the Prime Minister, he spent an evening with his fans at the Gymkhana Club in Delhi. The turnout was larger than anticipated and the event went on longer than planned. As we were getting late for an important dinner, we had to almost force him out of the club. Back at the Taj while getting ready for the dinner, Dev Saheb was unhappy. I could sense something amiss. When asked, he said that he could not autograph all the books his fans wanted him to. On his orders, we had to collect the books with the names of the fans, bring them to the hotel the next morning and get them autographed. You had to see the satisfaction on his face the next morning to gauge his concern for his fans. He loved his fans as much as they loved him.

On October 1, 2007, Chandigarh met one of the worthiest sons of Punjab in person. That evening, Dev Saheb unveiled his autobiography and shared some secrets of his life at Hotel Mountview. He spent more than an hour answering personal questions candidly. Asked about his affair with Suraiya, a teary-eyed Dev Saheb said, "Yes we were in love and I cried alone in my office when I learnt of her death as a bachelorette."