On the 3rd of December this year, the nation of India experienced the loss of one of their best, and most admired Hindi filmmakers/actors, Dev Anand. I’m not an expert when it comes to Indian cinema, but I thought that, in order to pay tribute to a great talent and contributor to the film industry, I’d say a few words about the man’s life, his work, his inspirations and his accomplishments. It’s important that a man whose career lasted an incredible 65 years and a man who’d played his part in 114 major Hindi films, should be remembered.
Born in Punjab, in the year of 1923, Dev spent his early years in the village of Gharota, near Gurdaspur. Punjab was to be his childhood home and his life until early adulthood. In the early 1940′s, after graduating in English Literature, he moved to Bombay. Here, he joined the Indian People’s Theatre Association with his brother, and landed his first minor roles as an actor. His first main role was in ‘Hain’ in 1946.
It was a little later, at the end of the decade that the young Anand became romantically involved and deeply passionate about Indian singer-actress and co-star Suraiya. They fell in love on the set of ‘Vidya’ in 1949, during the song Kinare kinare chale jayen ge – legend has it that he even saved her from drowning when their boat capsized during shooting. His fame grew during these years thanks to the acclaim gained by the films in which the two lovers starred together. Unfortunately, the films were praised for the presence of his partner, Suraiya, while his talents were kept in the shadows.
It was thanks to Ashok Kumar that Dev was given his big break, when he was found and chosen for the main role of 1948 film, ‘Ziddi’. Throughout the 50′s, his acting thrived as he explored his talents and took his success to new heights. It was at this time, while acting in a wide range of mystery films, light comedies and romantic comedies that he created his own image and his own style – a distinctive, fast-paced dialogue and the habit of nodding his head while talking – a trait which his ever-growing fan base enjoyed to imitate. As his career slid into the 60′s, his image became that of a romance hero, with his success in films like ‘Manzil’.
It was 1970 when Dev Anand came out with his directorial debut ‘Prem Pujari’, an espionage drama which flopped when first released but which has developed a strong cult following in recent years. It was in 1971 with his second direction, ‘Hare Rama Hare Krishna’, a film outlining the hippie culture at the time, that he first tasted extreme success through his directing.
Before the end of his career, Dev had directed a total of 9 films, 7 of which were major box office successes. He was highly praised for being years and years ahead of his time. Years later, he died in a London hotel room at the age of 88, his death coming only a few months after the release of his latest and last film ‘Charge Sheet’. The Indian film industry and his many fans all around the world will surely remember him for his countless achievements in the world of Indian cinema, and his healthy and positive attitude towards life.