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Dev Anand ably acted as westernised, urban educated, modern hero, as also anti-hero

By Harsh Thakor 
On September 26th we celebrated the birth centenary of legendary actor Dev Anand. Dev Saab carved out a new epoch or made a path breaking contribution in portraying romanticism and action in Bollywood cinema, giving his style or mannerisms a new colour.
Arguably no Bollywood star manifested glamour in such a dignified or serene manner or struck the core of an audience’s soul in romantic melodies. Possibly we missed this evergreen star being cast in a Hollywood film. Dev Anand is like an inextinguishable soul of Bollywood.
Although not as artistic or intense as Dilip Kumar, Raj Kapoor or Ashok Kumar ,Dev Anand surpassed them all for liveliness or flamboyance, with his performances radiating g energy on the screen, in realms rarely transcended. In his own right, Dev Saab, was a craftsman, like his classical contemporaries, with a characteristic composure. Perhaps never was a Bollywood star so suave, bubbling or charming as Dev Anand, who often looked like an Indian version of Gregory Peck. Few ever, injected or infused as much joie de vive, on the silverscreen, particularly on black and white celluloid. He gave the sensation of a Hollywood star more than any Hindi film actor, on screen.
Dev Saab manifested the modern, urbane, Westernised and educated hero, but could also portray an anti-hero. His acting possessed an inherent malleability of it’s very own kind with subtle detachment.
More than his artistic prowess it was his sheer style that produced a magnetic or electric effect on the public. His acting or modulating of facial expressions would maintain a stealthy balance consistently, not getting over emotional or indulgent or falling into the traps of over acting. His sheer movements could convey a message. .His acting possessed an inherent malleability of it’s very own kind with subtle detachment.
Whatever the brilliance they were endowed with, often the sheer pathos of Dilip Kumar or Raj Kapoor, could melt an audience. In songs Dev Anand could create an effect more melodious than any actor.
In his early days Dev Anand was amongst the most handsome or attractive Hindi film actors ever. He gave flashes of a Hollywood star. Some buffs rate him the most handsome Bollywood star ever. He donned full sleeve shirts buttoned up till the neck which became a trademark statement like his puffed hair and his wardrobe in numerous films. Possibly, we missed witnessing the presence of Dev Anand in a Hollywood film.
Dev Anand's bonding with music composers like - S. D. Burman and R. D. Burman, lyricists - Majrooh Sultanpuri, Neeraj, Shailendra and playback singer Mohammad Rafi and Kishore Kumar produced some of the finest songs in the Bollywood history.
Dev Saab was like the marathon man of Bollywood, adapting himself to the changed scenario, never to be buckled down or disillusioned with flops. What was most notable that even till the fag end of his life he was actively working, and with form conviction asserted that he never looked back or brooded on the past.
Dev virtually devised a new style of walking, with his forward lope, in the manner of a man racing to reach his goal. He walked through song sequences, without dancing skill, but tilting forward and swinging his arms to music .He modulated his voice in a unique manner, elevating up a pitch and then reducing it, to sharpen the intensity in his voice. His dialogue delivery was distinctive, reminiscent of a self-loading rifle.
The trio of Dilip Kumar, Raj Kapoor and Dev Anand infused into one, possibly blended into one,comprised every element of complete or perfect actor. No era was ever dominated with 3 actors of such stature,.
I can never forget his performances in ‘Taxi Driver’, ‘Love Marriage’, ‘Patita’, ‘Paying Guest’, ‘ ‘Kala Bazaar’, ‘CID’,Guide ‘ and ‘Kaala Paani.”Dev Saab always gave due respect to the role he played and never got carried away by his sheer cult or charisma.-,with characteristic, flowing style.
Dev Anand was an illustration how it was as much the artists who made the films as vice versa.
Perhaps it was a discrepancy that after the 1960’s his work lost it’s old artistic flavour or charm and became somewhat mundane, even if they were hits. Unlike Dlip Kumar or Amitabh Bachhan, he did not play or been cast in classical character roles. His films as director mainly depicted the crass commercialism of the day.
I make a distinction between Dev Anand’s films in black and white from those in colour, where he simply could not make the transition to blossom in the same manner. Still I admire his venture in ‘Hare Rama,Hare Krishna’,where he demonstrated directorial and acting prowess as well as his colourful performances in ‘Jewel Thief’ ,’Johnny Mera Naam’ and ‘Amir Garibi’.
Unlike many Bollywood stars then and now Dev Anand had political conviction, and courageously resisted the emergency launched by Indira Gandhi.Dev Anand, categorised the emergency as a a nightmare, and an insult to the people. He had also been the victim of the Shukla-controlled Ministry. Who forced him to enter into an agreement with Doordarshan, but he was reluctant. and he even did not turn up at a meeting calling all artists. This made him a marked man.

Early Life Story

Dev Anand was born on September 26, 1923 in Gurdaspur, Punjab. He graduated in English literature from the Government College, Lahore.He left his home by train with a mere 30 Rupees in his pocket, seeking berth in the film industry. Ironicaly,similar to Raj Kapoor,he was rejected a job in the Indian Navy. Dev loathed his father’s cruel treatment to his mother.
At first it was not his ambition to become an actor and he dreamy of job in the Indian Civil Services. He enrolled for Masters degree for this purpose, but a financial setback of his father, made him unable to support his son’s education.
Dev Anand set foot in Bombay in his venture as an actor, where to survive he took up a job as a script writer.After working briefly as clerk in an accountancy firm he found work in a military censor office at Flora Fountain, where he earned 165 rupees a month, reading letters of army officers.
Anand aspired to become a performer after seeing Ashok Kumar's performance in films like Achhut Kanya and Kismet. He made his acting debut with Prabhat Films' Hum Ek Hain (1946).
Inspite of his initial films like Hum Ek Hein, Aage Badho and Vidya turning into flops ,Dev Anand was not disillusioned and relentlessly tugged on. Ironically in another failed film Vidya, he had his first encounter with Suraiya,with whom he got his first true break,in film Ziddi.
Dev Anand co-starred with singer-actress Suraiya in seven films together - Vidya (1948), Jeet (1949), Shair (1949), Afsar (1950), Nili (1950), Do Sitare (1951) and Sanam (1951), all of which were successful at the box office. His first blossomed with Ziddi (1948), co-starring Kamini Kaushal. His other films include - House No. 44 (1955), Pocket Maar (1956), Munimji (1955), Funtoosh (1956), C.I.D. (1956) and Paying Guest (1957) etc.
In 1949, he launched his own company Navketan Films with his elder brother Chetan Anand.
He had an emotional love affair with actress Suraiya during 1948-1951, but it could finalise , because of great opposition by Suraiya's maternal grandmother. Suraiya remained unmarried throughout her life, till she died on 31 January 2004. Later, in 1954, Dev Anand married actress Kalpana Kartik with whom he has two children, Suneil Anand and Devina Anand (Narang).

Best Movies of Dev Anand

1. Baazi
Dev Anand enacted an obsessed gambler in the film. Dev Anand portrayal of a troubled youth who is reformed through love made him stand out in an era which revered heroes and not anti-heroes .hard to envisage any actor pumping the petrol as effectively in this character.This was the film which enabled him to climb the ladder of superstardom. The film was said to be inspired by the Hollywood hit Gilda (1946). Dev Anand is adept at gambling and gets an offer from a mysterious man through a club dancer Leena (Geeta Bali) to become the house gambler for a rich man’s club. Through the job he becomes a confidante of Leena. He also etsablishse sound relations with Dr Rajani, who treats poor patients without charging money. He’s fabricated for Leena’s murder and his mysterious employer, who happens to be Rajani’s father, warns him to shut his mouth if he desires the life of his sister. The inspector assigned task for investigation, however, sets a trap and arrests the real culprit.
2. Jaal (1952)
It projects Christian themes of love and forgiveness. Based in a Goan fishing village, the film depicts Dev Anand as a good-for-nothing smuggler who seduces Geeta Bali for his own good. Sadly the Indian audience could not capture it’s realism and the film underperformed at the box office, though it’s considered a classic today. Dev Anand delved into his dark side in realms he never did after this.
3. Taxi Driver (1954)
Dev Anand in a most subtle manner does justice to a no-realist f ilm,which traverses Bombay’s buoyant streetscapes, palm groves, beaches, gangsters and the working class, virtually shaping the city as a character in itself.
4. CID (1956)
The story revolved around the murder of a news editor and had enough twists and turns to keep even Abbas-Mustan happy. Dev Anand, of course, played a suave CID inspector. The film had evergreen songs by OP Nayyar like Ankhon hi ankhon mein ishara ho gaya, sung by Geeta Dutt and Mohammed Rafi and Leke pehla pehla pyar sung by Shamshad Begum and Rafi, where you can witness some glorious seaside scenes of old Bombay.
5. Kala Paani (1958)
He played the angst-ridden son of a man who craftily to get his wrongfully accused father out of jailMadhubala as the reporter and Nalini Jaywant as the prostitute comprised a perfect chemistry . A mysterious murderer, a secret that has been hidden for years, a cunning lawyer, an honest courtesan, a newspaper reporter and a hero hell-bent to find out the truth are welded together to create a thriller.Dev Anand takes intensify and conviction to a superlative height.
6. Kala Bazar (1960)
Dev Anand resorts to black marketing of cinema tickets to support his mother (Leela Chitnis), sister (Nanda) and brother. His life gets a turn when he bumps into college students Alka (Waheeda Rehman) and Nand (Vijay Anand). He falls in love with her and begins changing his ways. Dev Anand's repentance for his misdeeds and the manner he convinces his gang to relinquish the wrong path is acting of the highest class.
7. Bombay ki Babu (1960)
Dev Anand enacts a young man who masquerades as a family's long last son but things get disconcerting when he falls in love with his supposed sister. Babu (Dev Anand), a small-time crook in Bombay, accidentally kills fellow crook Balli (Jagdish Raj). Repenting what he's done, Babu flees till he reaches Jogendranagar, a small town in the Himalayan foothills. There, he’s advised by Bhagat (Rashid Khan) to con the rich landlord Shahji (Nazir Hussain) by camouflaging as his wayward son who has returned after many years. Babu offers consent to do that but ends up falling in love with his ‘sister’ Maya (Suchitra Sen). The manner he reforms himself and saves the family’s honour is acting skill personified.
8. Hum Dono (1961)
Here he enacted two distinct personalities with consummate skill. Major Verma, who is on a low key because of his handicap is a completely contrasting character than the carefree Captain Mahesh Anand, whose motto in life was to shun away life’s worries in smoke (Har fikr ko dhuen mein udata chala gaya). Mahesh goes to console the missing in action Verma’s family and is mistaken for him. He stays on to bring Verma’s ailing wife back on her feet, the confusion leading to the emotional quandary in everyone’s life. The scenes where Verma and Mahesh meet and one lights up the other’s cigarette rank amongst the final double role acting together on the silverscreen.
9. Tere Ghar ke Saamne (1963)
Dev Anand is brilliant in romantic comedy, giving the film it’s sheer lightness, even when redressing aspect of generation gap.Briliant chemistry with Nutan.
10. Guide (1965)
Dev Anand is classical in scenes of redemption, manifesting virtuosity to heights rarely penetrated in Bollywood.One of the finest performances in portraying a transformed character, extricating himself from the trap of evil.
Waheeda Rehman played feminist figure Rosie, who runs away from a bad marriage and becomes an accomplished dancer. Dev Anand was Raju, the guide, who has a great crush for her and later falls into the trap by easy money , Raju, who thinks everyone but him is a sucker, falls a victim of his own con game. He transforms into a holy man who fasts until death to end the land’s drought. When, he relentlessly stands by his beliefs before the sight of falling rain to breathe his last, he is an epitome of inner bliss in Hindi film history.
11. Jewel Thief (1967)
Dev Anand, in a spy thriller, does amply justice to a role where he is mistakenly for a look a like jewel thief.
12. Amir Garib (1974)
Here he portrays a man living a duel life. One is that of a magician, the other is that of a thief whose goal is to help the poor and needy. He falls into the trap of love with a woman who is the opposite of what she projects.
---
Harsh Thakor is freelance journalist

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