Sunday, December 11, 2011

Nothing could slow down Dev Anand

One of the most evocative picture of Dev Anand that comes to my mind is the song with Hema Malini 'pal bhar ke liye...'. As a child I remember counting the number of windows shown in the song. On Saturday, when Dev Anand was laid to rest at London's Putney Vale crematorium he left behind his countless films and autobiography, to give us a peek into his life's window. And just like in the song, the one quality that will always stay with everybody was his enthusiasm and zest for life. There were few committed fans and true admirers who braved the harsh winter to pay their last respects to the stylish and evergreen actor.

Born in undivided India, Dev Anand had become a pale shadow of himself in later years. While many people and critics opined he should stop making films he did what he felt was good. Unlike many of the current actors and very much like the earlier ones (Balraj Sahni, Dilip Kumar, Raj Kapoor...) Dev Anand's diction and dialogues were flawless. And by flawless I mean not good but perfect Urdu and Hindi.

Dev Anand's first major film was directed by Shahid Lateef whose wife was celebrated Urdu writer Ismat Chughtai. It was also his upbringing that developed his language skills. Dev Anand's father knew Arabic and Persian and it is said that he used to explain Islamic scriptures to the less educated Muslims!

At his funeral service some songs from his films were played apart from the customary remembrances. One of the priest (who seemed to be a close acquantaince) recalled the Urdu couplets that the actor had told him in Mumbai! Lord Meghnad Desai who was at the funeral told me that Dev Anand's autobiography was very well written. "His English was very good and his autobiography was brutally frank and lively."