Monday, December 5, 2011

The Evergreen is No More: Dev Anand

Dev Anand 1923-2011

Dev Anand, the oldest young man in the film world of India, died on Saturday in London at the age of 88.  His passing truly brings down the curtain on the Golden Age of Bombay cinema. Starting in the 1940s he remained a certified multiplatinum diamond encrusted megastar throughout the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s and 80’s.  Even in the last two decades of his life, he kept making films, though his aura had long been eclipsed by the Shahrukhs and Amirs of contemporary Bollywood.   When he died he was working on yet another starring role!

For several generations of Indians Dev Anand was Mr Movie.  His 7 decades as an actor are hard to imagine and will likely never be surpassed.  As an  American kid growing up in India there was for years only one name I knew in Indian movies, Dev Anand.

That name recognition did not come from my frequenting Hindi movies but from the close proximity of his two children: Sunil  and Devina. They were our school’s link with fame and celebrity.  Sunil, a year older than me, played the drums. Devina, was a couple years behind me and was known for her striking looks and ability as a classical dancer.  Neither had the slightest air about them. They acted and indeed, were, absolutely normal, just like the rest of us. And yet, we  knew.  Their dad is Dev Anand!!!

Dev visited the school infrequently but when he did the entire staff and all the Indian students would line up as if they were greeting the Queen. It was the only time other than Sports Day we got to see our teachers and domestic staff run.

As I grew older I saw a few of his pictures like Hare Krishna Hare Ram in which I was introduced to the groovy spaced out stoner hit Dam Maro Dam (Take a Toke). In  Ishq Ishq Ishq (Love, Love, Love) I was met with all manner of tightly bloused dancing ladies (see photo of Zeenat, below) and risqué music.  

Dev Anand was not only Evergreen, implausibly playing the ‘hero’ to leading ladies a third his age, but he will be remembered as a light hearted, fun loving, natty dressed ladies man.  In this his greatest rival was Shammi Kapoor who too passed away in 2011.   And like Shammi’s films Dev Anand’s movies were usually filled with several cracking tunes.  Even if the film was a flop you could find solace in the soundtrack.

Tonight’s post is from one of those flops, Darling Darling. Released in 1977 it starred his biggest discovery as well as his greatest heartthrob the gorgeous Zeenat Aman in an Eliza Doolittle type role. For years Dev was in love with Zeenat which makes this and other similar vintage films with her memorable as the songs take on an additional level of poignancy.  The opening number, sung by Kishore Kumar, Hello Darling ranks as fine an example of what is now referred to as Bollywood funk,  Aise Na Mujhe Tum Dekho is a stunning showcase of Kishore’s singing ability, while Ek Main Hun Ek Tu is a classic weepy love ballad with Asha Bhosle joining forces with Kishore.

It is cliché to say, the world won’t be the same when someone passes. But in this case it is the simple truth.  Without Dev Anand Indian cinema is a far less fun place. A big chunk of its glory has disappeared.

Farewell Dev sahib.

            Track Listing:
            01 Hello Darling
02 Woh Aurat Hai
03 Raat Gayi Baat Gayi
04 Ek Main Hun Ek Tun
05 Aise Na Mujhe Tum Dekho
06 Yeh Duniya Kya Hai Duniya

Listen here.


Sandeep said...

My love and best wishes to a soul who had charmed his way to the heats of every film lover. A Hero of Hearts we will remember you as long a Hindi movies exist. We loved you and will continue to love you.

ajnabi said...

Right you are Sandeep

deewani said...

In a chilling coincidence I was having a conversation with a cousin about recent passings of legends like Jagjit Singh and Kuldip Manak. He brought up Dev Anand and how he had seen him recently on television, commenting on how strong he looked. When I drove home 2 hours later and read the news online, I realized just as my cousin was speaking about him, he was breathing his last. Aaise Na Mujhe Tum Dekho is an all time favorite Kishore number! The teasing tone of it is all together delicious.

ajnabi said...

Deewani, you're right about that song. nice way to put it.

Fawad Zakariya said...

Ajnabi sahib, thanks for a little bit of your personal recollections of the great Dev Anand. These are great catchy numbers and the list of hitbsongs filmed on Dev Anand must be in the hundreds at least. Of the original troika of the legendary actors only Dilip Sahib survives.

ajnabi said...

Fawad sahib,
A real Pakistani troika!

Dolmance said...

I can certainly see how he might have fallen in love with Zeenat Aman!

Anonymous said...

Hi i m biggest fan of Dev sir, Dev Anand Hit Songs