September 26, 2008
The day marks 85 years of an incredible life. A life filled with glory, glamour, grit and guts. The guts to take risks, the guts to follow convictions and most importantly the guts to believe in the self long after the world stopped believing in it. Today is the 85th Birthday of the irrepressible phenomena, the matinee idol of the past and the tireless maker of the turkeys our times - Dev Anand.
For those who have known me over the years have known that I have been a hyperventilating 'pankha' of the man in the past. It was undoubtedly an unusual fixation for the brat of the eighties and nineties, but then I have always enjoyed the unusual over the accepted and more than that I have enjoyed the sense of exclusivity of my choice. After all every Meeta, Geeta and Seeta or should I say Anya, Tanya and Manya (to keep it contemporary) was a fan of Tom Cruise or Brad Pitt, I stood apart with my fascination for Dev Anand, a man older than my grandfather! I have idolised Dev Anand, watched his films, gone weak in the knees and run the whole nine yards of emotions typical to 'fanship'.
I finally got over him after I had a chance to meet him two years back. It was inevitable, one because I had grown far beyond the gamut of sensibilities he had to offer and more importantly, the man is after all human and the imagination of a fan - super human, he really did not have a chance to live up to it even if I had not outgrown him.
But Dev Anand is not going away from my schema of things so soon. Now with the idol worship firmly put to rest, a new admiration for the spirit of the man is slowly finding root. I idolised the Dev Anand of the pre seventies, but it is the Dev Anand of the post seventies that I admire. Because this was when his films starting tanking and his true spirit started to manifest. And that just thrives with time.
Anyone who has been down and out or faced failure at any point in their life knows that it takes some amount of effort to get up and get on. The older a human being gets, the more difficult it is to recover. Which probably explains why people take a backseat in their autumn years. It is partially due to diminishing drive and partially due to a need to protect themselves from disappointments and downfalls. And that is what sets Dev Anand apart. Not because he has a drive to deliver at 85, but because he has the drive to deliver in the face of continuing failure. The last film which did some kind of business was 'Des Pardes'. The year was 1978. Exactly thirty years ago. Since then Dev Anand has made 15 films each a colder turkey than the previous. Yet he persists and delivers.
Film production is a business that has seen the ruin of great a many people. Filmy lore is choc-a-bloc-full with such stories. If the producer doubled as an artist the chance of doom became higher. Artists are sensitive people and are likely to take failure more personally than others. Guru Dutt is a classic example of that syndrome. The inability to cope with the uncertainties of the film business cost him his life. Dev Anand's own brother, the brilliant Vijay Anand could not get his swan song 'Jaana Na Dil se Door' released. A sure shot would-have-been classic today lies sadly rotting in the cans. On the other hand, Dev Anand with his admittedly lesser products not only manages to get a release but sufficient publicity as well. He has not let the business rule him, his entrepreneur skills have conquered the system. That by itself calls for a round of applause.
Don't judge Dev Anand by the quality of his films or the depth of his acting talent. That was never much to begin with. His USP was a winning persona, an ability to spot and nurture talent around him and use them to his benefit. Dev Anand films are popular not only because of his persona but also because the entire package is attractive. Good music, good lyrics, thought provoking story and outstanding direction. His good run lasted from Baazi in 1951 to Tere Mere Sapne in 1971 about twenty years. In a career spanning sixty years Dev Anand has seen more years of failure than success. But the truth is that the day commercial success abandoned him his true success began it's journey.
The wise men and the sages over the years have spoken of the art of detachment. The technique of conquering the self by conquering the desire for the fruits of labour and the concept of single minded Karma. Whether it is through delusion or through detachment it is apparent that Dev Anand has discovered that secret of separating the effort from the fruits. His tireless journey bears testimony to that.
I end off with poetry by Shailendra from his film Guide in the voice of the great Sachin Dev Burman. This song plays around with these deep truths of life.
Kehte hain gyaani
duniya hai faani
paani pe likhi likhai
hai sabki dekhi
hai sabki jaani
haath kisike na aayi
However Dev Saab it seems has found the grasp to this capricious duniya- it lies in mastering the art of letting go!. An easy to preach but difficult to acheive state of being. Congrats to Dev Anand for having done it and shown that it can be done.
Happy birthday Dev Saab. May your spirit thrive. You will continue to remain an inspiration for generations to come!
Watch the song 'Wahan Kaun Hai Tera' by clicking on the link.