Dev Anand

Dev Anand

Living legend actor Dharam Dev Anand popularly known as Dev Anand will mark his 87th birthday on Sunday.

Dev Ānand born on 26 September 1923 is an Indian Bollywood actor, director and film producer. Dev is the second of three brothers who were active in Bollywood. His elder brother Chetan Anand was a film director, as was his younger brother, Vijay Anand. Their sister, Sheel Kanta Kapur, is the mother of renowned Hindi and English film director Shekhar Kapur.

He is till date considered as the evergreen actor, the famous Jewel Thief, is known to be the heartthrob of millions. With an acting career spanning over 60 years in the Bollywood industry, Dev Anand even today is known for his passion and zeal towards his work. It is this ardor of his that drives him to ‘Jiyo Dil Se’. This eminent personality has ruled the silver screen for almost a decade and has excelled in all fields of work be it acting, directing or film producing.

Dev was born Dharam Dev Anand in Gurdaspur district in undivided Punjab to well-to-do advocate Kishorimal Anand. He graduated in English literature from the Government College, Lahore (now in Pakistan). His love for acting made him leave his hometown for the centre of the Hindi film industry, Mumbai. Dev began his career in the military censor office at Churchgate, Mumbai, for a salary of Rs.160.

He was soon offered a break as an actor by Prabhat Talkies to star in their film Hum Ek Hain(1946). While shooting for the film in Pune, Dev struck a friendship with another fellow legendary actor Guru Dutt.

Dev was offered his first big break by Ashok Kumar. He spotted Dev hanging around in the studios and picked him as the hero for the Bombay Talkies production, Ziddi, costarring Kamini Kaushal (1948) which became a success. In 1949, Dev turned producer and launched his own company Navketan, which continues to produces movies.

Dev chose to rely on Guru Dutt as director for the crime thriller, Baazi (1951). The collaboration was a success at the box office. He also played a few characters with a negative shade, like in Jaal(1952). His films Rahee and Aandhiyan, were screened there along with Raj Kapoor’s Awaara. In the same year, Taxi Driver was declared a hit. Dev’s heroine was Kalpana Kartik aka Mona Singha again, and the two decided to marry in a quiet ceremony. The couple had a son, Suneil Anand in 1956.

A rapid-fire style of dialogue delivery and a penchant for nodding while speaking became Dev’s style in films like Munimji, C.I.D. and Paying Guest. His style was lapped up by the audience and was widely imitated. He starred in a string of box office successes for the remainder of the 1950s. In 1955 he also co-starred with Dilip Kumar in Insaniyat. With his acting in Kala Pani (1958), as the son who is willing to go to any lengths to clear his framed father’s name, he won the Best Actor Award for the film.

He was romantically involved with singer-actress Suraiya and the two of them paired in six films together. She fell in love with him during the shooting of a song sequence in the film-a boat capsized and Dev Anand saved Suraiya from drowning. Her grandmother opposed the relationship as they were Muslims and so, Suraiya remained unmarried all her life.

His first film in colour, Guide with Waheeda Rehman was based on the novel of the same name by R. K. Narayan. Dev Anand himself was the impetus for making the film version of the book. He met and persuaded Narayan to give his assent to the project. Dev Anand tapped his friends in Hollywood to launch an Indo-US co-production that was shot in Hindi and English simultaneously and was released in 1965. Guide, directed by younger brother Vijay Anand, was an acclaimed movie. Dev played Raju, a voluble guide, who supports Rosy (Waheeda) in her bid for freedom. He is not above thoughtlessly exploiting her for personal gains. Combining style with substance, he gave an affecting performance as a man grappling with his emotions in his passage through love, shame and salvation.

He reunited with Vijay Anand for the Jewel Thief, featuring a bevy of beauties led by Vyjayanthimala and including Tanuja, Anju Mahendru, Faryal and Helen. Their next collaboration, Johnny Mera Naam (1970) was a big hit.

His maiden attempt at direction, the espionage drama Prem Pujari, flopped, but he tasted success with his 1971 directorial effort, Hare Rama Hare Krishna which talked about the prevalent hippie culture. His find Zeenat Aman, who played the mini-skirt sporting, pot-smoking Janice, became an overnight sensation. Dev also became known as a filmmaker of trenchantly topical themes. This same year, he starred with Mumtaz in Tere Mere Sapne, an adaptation of A. J. Cronin’s novel, The Citadel. The film was directed by Dev’s brother, Vijay.

The presence of his ‘discoveries’-the Zeenat and later, the Tina Munim (heroine of Dev’s last recognised hit Des Pardes in 1978)-fuelled Dev’s image as the evergreen star even when he was well into his fifties.

Dev Anand has also been politically active. He led a group of film personalities who stood up against the Internal Emergency imposed by the then Prime Minister of India, Indira Gandhi. He actively campaigned against her with his supporters in Indian parliamentary elections in 1977. He also formed a party called the National Party of India, which he later disbanded.

Since his 1978 hit Des Pardes, his subsequent films in the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s failed to do well at the box office. His most recent film appearance was in Mr Prime Minister in 2005.

Dev Anand’s films are well known for their hit songs. His association with music composers Shankar-Jaikishen, O. P. Nayyar, Kalyanji-Anandji, Sachin Dev Burman and his son Rahul Dev Burman, lyricists Hasrat Jaipuri, Majrooh Sultanpuri, Neeraj, Shailendra, Anand Bakshi, and playback singers Mohammad Rafi, Mahendra Kapoor, Mukesh and Kishore Kumar produced some very popular songs.

In September 2007, Dev’s own autobiography “Romancing with Life” was released at a birthday party with the Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh.