Friday, September 26, 2008

Dev Anand at 85 - Triumphant!

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.


  1. Ritu, your fascination for this man is quite interesting. You've turned me around a bit as I was always judgmental of his choice of movies and absolutely horrific end products.I could never understand how he came across as so unaffected in all his inteviews. Your write up is indeed a remarkably fresh perspective to the man. I am beginning to see him in new (shiny) light.
    Very well written.

  2. Never quite thought of him in that light.
    Persistent,yes; but detached? That's an interesting view.

    As a fellow libran I can only wonder how he must have withstood the extremes of glory and as you've put it, the duds of the last thirty years, the awful downs this must have brought, for sure. And yet to attempt, to go back.

    I'm adding your feed to g'reader.

  3. Good tribute Ritu. Some news on our HHU :

    New Delhi, Sept 25 (PTI) Bollywood's evergreen hero Dev Anand, who ruled Hindi cinema for more than three decades, has roped in Asha Bhonsale to do a number for his latest production "Chargesheet." It is after 28 years that the pop diva will be doing a song for his production.
    "Asha has done hit songs for my movies like 'Hare Rama Hare Krishna' and 'Lootmar' which are still popular among people," Dev Anand told PTI.

    The actor, who turned 85 today, said "I am not sure whether I will be able to complete my latest production within my lifetime but I will continue working till my last breath" "This is a big-budget movie so it is taking all my energy and concentration these days", he added.

    Dev Anand said the secret of his long life is the love and affection he receives from his audience.

    The actor has a fine understanding of music which he exemplified in various hits during his cinematic journey. "Music comes from soul and its sweetness inturn attracts our soul. Good music can win over times, boundaries and people," he said.

    Asked whether songs of Kishore Kumar made his films sucessful or it was vice-versa, Dev Anand said "who can answer this? I and Kishore both came to Mumbai in a set of kurta-pyajama. He was a great singer although he did not undergo any formal training in music. His voice had resonance and people said that he used to match his voice with mine."

  4. @ Deepak: Thank you, his talent might be in question but as a human being he is truly remarkable.

    @ Austere: Yes, detached. How else can you get up and go again. If you are attached to something you will mourn it and constant mourning can make even a normal person deranged.

    @ KCP: Thanks as usual for your comments and this article. I see there is Kishore there as well :)

  5. Watching Dev sahab is like walking & talking with Life...
    Claps for Dev sahab

  6. Ritu:

    Interesting article in the point you are making about the Dev Anand's irrepressible spirit. However, it seems one dimensional, and clearly written by a true fan. A friend of mine once remarked that someone was so enamored by a certain person that if that person even shot and killed someone, the fan would marvel at his unerring aim!

    To me the fact ramains that he has produced pure drivel in the last 20 years and I see it as his inability to distinguish a good product from a bad one. I too appreciate his sheer ability to PRODUCE it and get it released, but the utter lack of anything to say and the abiliity to say it so badly clearly supercedes said appreciation.

    Please keep in mind that I WAS a fan of Dev Anand, and there is nothing worse than a disillusioned fan.

    Thanks for the unique perspective in your article.



  7. @ Sachin: I promise you, I am not a Dev Anand fan any more. I think my track record is so potent that no one believes me :). I completely agree on your assessment of his work and his lack of objectivity in seeing it.

    But the territory that I am treading on is purely from a human spirit perspective. I am fascinated on how people pick themselves after a fall and bounce back. It is that portion that I find incredible. The fact is however much of turkeys his films are he invests in them and they tank. How does he get up again and go. Think of it. If you failed all your job interviews in the last 3 years forget 30 years. Would you not consider giving up and changing professions?

  8. Dev Anand was a talented cinema actor, with the skill and intelligence to appear natural on the screen. He deliberately kept himself free of theatrical histrionics - thank God - just as great cinema actors such as Cooper, Gable, Grant, Tracy and Bogart did. Unfortunately, many people still imagine that histrionics and screen acting are one and the same thing. Shame.

    Dev Anand is hardly a practitioner of detachment. He is very involved - indeed, too involved - in all he does. He continues in his path despite criticism and so-called failure because - unlike so many other people - he genuinely believes in himself and cannot be swayed by mere public opinion. He is a positive, forward-looking fellow and undoubtedly has no time to dwell on the past or to feel sorry for himself.

    That others should find him odd or untalented, or should want him to 'behave his age' or to 'make movies according to their opinions' is a sad commentary on humanity.

    Nothing is more important in life than to be true to oneself and to do one's own thing. All inner progress depends upon this. We should admire people like Dev Anand and strive to follow their examples.

    God bless Dev and may he always continue unaffected by outward success or failure.


  9. I agree with Ritu. I spoke to the man, and he does have a high opinion of himself and his film career, but like Ritu says, he does deserve accolades for persistence and like my father, at the age of 85, not giving up creativity when most people have been retired from activity in their 6o's.


  10. Very well written post! I agree that the man, Dev Anand, is much more superior to artist, dev anand..and you brought that up very nicely.

  11. very nice post....i like Dev just for this never-say-die attitude....i also find his interviews very interesting...recently read his interview somewhere...he was asked who is the King of bollywood? Shahrukh or AkshayKumar (ref was Singh is King)....Dev replied - In a democratic country like ours how can there be any king? :) only complain with him is he switched to Raju Roshan after Hum Naujawan and never worked with Pancham again...he kept saying that let Pancham start giving good music, i'll come back to him....quite strange this when he himself was not making any good movies :-) Pancham ran out of patience...anyways, long live Devsaab....

  12. @ Philip : Thanks for the insight. You are right about him being completley involved with his product, but that is the quality I am amazed at.Contrast between the extreme level of involvement with the work and the complete detachment with the result is very rare and to be difficult to achieve. Failure is palatable when it is peppered with occasional success. Constant and continuing failure is a different ballgame.

  13. Hello Ritu,

    Dev Anand is not detached from the results. He is extremely attached. But it is the inner rather than outer results he is focused on and attached to!

    Dev Anand was quite unsuccessful in films in his early career and of course had to contend with the Suraiya disappointment as well.
    But he learnt from those experiences and from 1951 to around 1980 he was extremely successful.

    Since then he has been pretty unsuccessful in films and, on the whole, deservedly so in my opinion. But this is mostly due to his desire to be a one-man-band. He does not collaborate or delegate whereas, previously, he always did.

    However, as he is focused on inner development - upon self-knowledge, personal creativity and doing his own thing - he does not regard his post-1980 films as failures but as interesting experiments that have enriched him enormously as a person.

    And they aren't failures, Ritu, in the truest sense! Don't you agree? People like Dev, who have experienced both failure and great external success in life, soon realize that external success, or the good opinion of others, does not bring true satisfaction because true satisfaction actually comes only from within and is dependent upon inner success. This is of course precisely what the sages, prophets, spiritual philosophers and poets, and all existentialists have always advised us.

    Of course, such self-awareness is quite rare in humanity. But then Dev Anand is a pretty rare guy, as you have pointed out in your blog!

    It is great to talk to you Ritu. If only Shekhar or Dev, himself, somehow would join in this discussion of ours and give us the real low-down!

    All the best,

  14. Hi Philip

    I agree that his films are not failures. They are a triumph of human spirit. But we cannot ignore the artistic side of the endeavour. His end products cannot be justfied by even extreme 'fandom'.

    As Satyajit Ray had mentioned in his essay on the 70s art movement. Film-making is about communication. There is no point in having a wonderful idea if you cannot communicate it using the tools you have. Dev Saab has great ideas. He touches upon themes that have tremendous potential. But it ends there. The fact is that he might have made a good writer, but his screen plays are extremely under-developed and the performances - mostly non-performances. His artistic ego is his artistic undoing.

    A good example is 'Prem Pujari'. That was an idea with so much depth. What happens when a non-violence believer is recruited by the army where one has to kill without questioning. Amazing concept. But look what he made of it.

    But, yes your point that he derives internal satisfaction and growth is implicit to the discussion. His complete disregard for the opinion of the world can mean only two things - delusion or a high sense of self-worth. Which is very rare in an artist. All artists I have come across to date look for some kind(however minimal) endorsement of their creativity.

    Also, a lot of indulgence for Dev Saab comes based off his early work. It is the same with Lata Mangeshkar given the quality of her current output.

    Anyway, it is certainly a pleasure to converse with you. It would certainly be wonderful to get Shekhar's insight, but then Shekhar Kapur and on my 'toota-phoota' blog? That is expecting too much indulgence :). Actually, given his close relationship with Dev Saab he would find it difficult to be completely candid even if we somehow got his views.

    As far as Dev Saab, I prefer he does not read this. He is after 85 year old, at that age you want him to hear only nice things.

    1. 'As far as Dev Saab, I prefer he does not read this. He is after 85 year old, at that age you want him to hear only nice things.'

      Knowing Dev from his several interviews, he wouldn't have cared, had he read the views expressed by some here!

  15. Very different and heartfelt point of view on Dev Anand - thanks, Ritu :) I agree with your views on his acting and his talent for spotting talent around him. I have felt similar things about his acting, while at the same time being impressed with his 'on-screen' charisma - sort of like my senior manager at work - very charismatic, but horrible at brokering deals and partnerships :) Now, I have not had the opportunity to watch too many Hindi movies, but I cannot recall a single instance where Dev Anand put himself against other famous actors of his age (from various decades) - like Dilip Kumar, Rajesh Khanna, Amitabh Bachchan, Dharmendra ... is this a correct supposition on my part? Was it always a solo act for him?

    I was just looking at the Wikipedia entry to see if there is any information on this query of mine, and it had this amusing yet succinct one-liner about him .... ' A rapid-fire style of dialogue delivery, an array of hats, and a penchant for nodding while speaking' ... all of which rings true for me :)

    On another note, and not to take anything away from his achievements, I shudder to think how folks would remember him, if there were no Rafi or Kishore around? :o


  16. Hi Debabrata,

    Thanks for your feedback. Dev Anand did act with Dilip Kumar in Insaniyat. A forgettable film. The only other real actor he has been pitted against is Ashok Kumar in Jewel Thief. I think he was quite good there, but Vijay Anand should get credit for it.

    As regarding Dev without Kishore/Rafi... actually I would say it was symbiotic. Look at this way, Joy Mukherjee, Biswajit, Bharat Bhushan all had Rafi, but they could not be Dev Anand. We have to grant the man his charisma. But Vijay Anand again had a role to play.

  17. Hi Ritu,

    Your blog isn't tooti phooti!

    Even more importantly, you are sincere and your heart is in the right place.

    That counts for a lot, certainly with me, and probably with Dev and Shekhar too.

    I only found your blog when accidentally coming across Shekhar's, so who knows? Why not stay positive, the Dev Anand way?

    Main zindagi ka saath nibhata chala gaya,

    Har fikr ko dhooain main udata chala gaya!

    Wishing you and your blog every success,


  18. Dear,

    You simply have the gift of the pen. A remarkable note, which describes the spirit of a remarkable man. Someone who is ridiculed, caricatured and lampooned by our generation. I myself am a great fan Dev A, but have in the recent past started admiring his spirit and never say attitude which I hope becomes contagious, for the betterment of the society.



  19. Hi Ritu,

    Exactly after an year when you wrote this blog, I am adding another comment to it.
    Like you, i have also been a childhood fan of Dev Anand and again like you i also have a wish in my heart to meet him.
    Your article reminds me of my e-mail that i sent to him but i am not sure whether it reached him as i am not confident about the email addresses i got from the internet.
    Do you have,by any chance, any email id or any other contact point through which i can ensure my mail being delivered to Dev.


  20. Hey,
    My email id is


  21. Ritu your & the related posts are great truely analysing Dev Sahab. I am his ardent fan since my school days. Dev Sahab has been a part of our growing up. Survived difficult days in medical hostel listening his songs. Exam tensions always looked less after listening his songs specially after the anthem song " Yeh Zindagi ka saath nibhaata chala gaya". His music was stressbuster.
    For me he will always live ....his songs, his style, his mannerisms EVERYTHING about him.
    Felt that he was immortal & will never die. couldn't control my tears

  22. I am from the generation that grew up watching the movies of 50s/60s/70s on television as Sunday evening shows. Every year, during the exam days, for about a month, I would promise myself not to watch Sunday evening movie and instead, catch up with the studies. Dev saab's movies were the only ones that made me break my promise to myself, year after year. Such was the charm of this man.

  23. I am so happy to come across a blog that spells out Dev Anand's life so clearly.... Dev Anand, A true "Karamayogi", not understood by many... Your blog and readers comments are true "TRIBUTE" to Dev Anand and his life's journey.....

    I am amazed that living in Bollywood, surrounded by many distractions, how focused, respected and principled he remained through out his life whether for contributing towards Indian Cinema or as a husband, father, uncle, relative, reader writer, creator, thinker and above all a genuine, humble and honest human being.....

    There cannot be an another "Dev Anand"......

  24. The Death Anniversary of the Evergreen Superstar Shri #DevAnand was on 3rdDec. Let us all pay a heartfelt #tribute to him on

    In case you wish to create a tribute for your loved ones as well, Please give us a missed call on +91-9643105042. Our associates will get in touch with you.
    You can also create a profile yourself on -