The 1965 film, Teen Devian, left a great impression on my young mind. A young and debonair Dev Anand was the hero. The three Devian Nanda, Kalpana and Simi fell head over heels for the hero, who was a poet and sold musical instruments for a living. He was on the horns of a dilemma as to who among the three was the best for him as the life partner, though he liked them all.
Fascinated by this film, I started searching for Devian in real life. The first Devi who fascinated me was Devyani Chaubal, a fearless writer of no mean merit. She was a columnist in the most feared tabloid of her time, Blitz. Her pieces were explosive.
She knew all murky details of the film world Dev's secret affair with Suraiya or Guru Dutt's crush on Waheeda Rehman. How were music directors Jaikishan and Madan Mohan close to Lata Mangeshkar? She knew all that was happening on the Dharmendra-Hema Malini front. She knew who was sleeping with whom in hired hotel rooms. Everyone held her in more awe than esteem in the film world. Her bold and no-holds-barred style fascinated me no end.
The second Devi who impressed me professionally and academically is Tavleen Singh. Born in Mussoorie and educated at Welham Girls School, Dehradun, she was the only woman reporter covering communal riots and wars in the 1980s. As a special reporter of The Telegraph, she covered the politically volatile areas of Punjab and Kashmir. She interviewed Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale when terrorism was at its peak and many did not dare venture out. Tavleen's style was simple and direct, yet inquisitive. However, she courted controversy when she was reported to have slapped a journalist in Sri Lanka.
The third Devi of my liking is Barkha Dutt, the one who shot to fame (or notoriety) during the Kargil war in 1999. Despite all that, her war reporting was excellent and fearless. Her simple but sensible interaction with the people has won her appreciation from all quarters. Truly, Barkha's career boasts of many personal milestones.
All these Devian Devyani, Tavleen and Barkha revolutionised reporting or writing in a bold and beautiful manner, yet, like Dev Anand in the film, they left me puzzled as to who among them can be called the best columnist. Though there are other Devis in the media, yet they are not worth the ink.
So, Dev Anand's dilemma continues for me in the media world.