Death is something you never associated with Dev Saab. If my memory serves right in he died exactly two times in his movies. Once in Guide, and then in his last commission-earner Lashkar in 1989.
He was eternally ever green, someone whom you’ll associate with life and the extreme highs of life. You would never have read that he was not well. If you have been lucky enough to read his autobiography Romancing with Life, you’d realize that he was human too, but was incredibly in love with his own evergreen image, that he very tactfully managed to keep everything regarding his health or lack of it away from the public life.
It feels almost surreal, as I write these words. The feeling has not sunk in. It feels that anything can happen, but Dev Anand cannot die. Everyone will die, but Dev Anand will never.
But that’s not the case, the legend indeed has bid adieu to legions of his fans, well wishers, and lovers of good old cinema. Reports say that he died around 10 PM GMT, following a massive cardiac arrest.
As I write these words, I also read that his family has taken a call to cremate in London itself, which I believe is the best that they could do to keep his image alive.
While the media has been frantically covering the news, a public display of his mortal body, and a cremation that would be covered by half of the electronic channels and print media is not something that Dev Saab would have liked. As a true fan, I would like to remember him being alive, than conform to the reality of his death.
I remember when Raaj “Jaani” Kumar passed away in 1996, not a single soul came to know outside his family. His sons cremated him, and the only interview which the electronic media managed was that of a watchman at the crematorium. Hence Kumar being frail, weak, and unhealthy never stayed in memories of people.
Everyone will remember Raaj Kumar as being the badass hero who unflinchingly uttered the most nonsense of dialogues with the conviction of an experienced preacher.
They were true stars of the celluloid. Dev Saab or Raaj Kumar never endorsed products, or even if they supported a cause commercial or charitable, they never took a rupee. To them film making was all
Their private lives were enigmatic. And their stardom was real.
I have idolized Dev Saab for much of my life. I still remember watching Jewel Thief as a 12 year old on Television and the incredible joy that some of his lesser known films like Solwa Saal (1958), Asli Naqli (1962), or even Patita (1953) gave me.
Critics have always panned him as all style and no substance. These days people prefer to point to his Box Office duds since the late seventies. It’s unfortunate that they do that rather than look at the immense joy that he has provided over time. There are few who can boast of his body of work. I am not going into that. You can read it all over the net.
I have met Dev Saab thrice. Twice in Mumbai, and once in Bangalore. He in fact recollected meeting me, when I last met him during the launch of his autobiography.
I could write pages on him, having watched his movies multiple times, and devoured much of the literature on him.
I would write couple more posts later. Let me leave you with a song from his hit Tere Ghar Ke Saamne. If there were a breezy romantic musical this was it. And has romance been expressed better than this duet…