He was banned from wearing black as he looked so dashingly handsome in it that everyone was afraid it would lead to mass hysteria among his female fans.
And his female fans in Darjeeling stood in long queues on the road outside the hotel he was staying in with sindoor pouches in their hands waiting for their hero to redden their maang.
That was the Dev Anand craze decades ago, and the craze was still alive at the opening of the 12th Nepal Education and Book Fair on May 9 as this evergreen hero from Indian cinema was greeted with shouting and clapping.
Here to release his autiobiography Romancing with Life, Dev saab’s ties with Nepal go back a long, long time. He highlighted Nepal and her Hippie culture in his super hit cult 70’s movie Hare Rama Hare Krishna (Who can forget Zeenat Aman’s Dum maro dum number?).
An actor, a director, a producer, and now a writer, many person’s in one, yet Dev saab at 85 still exudes the same charisma and his smile still has the power to steal hearts.
Telling his story
“Actually I am not a writer,” says this veteran artiste in his room at Yak and Yeti. “I wrote it because it was about me and my life,” he explains.
And it has been “a long life” since he first came to Mumbai from Lahore to be a part of the show business. “It is about my journey through life, about my struggle, my happiness and pain — all about me.
I did not find it right to let someone else tell my story.”
He adds he found writing about his life very difficult as it “needs lots of honesty and it has to be real and candid”.
“And I assure you it is very interesting. A man, a book, a movie must not be dull.”
The book covers every moment of his life that was special and has all the people that made a difference in his life.
“It’s about Dev Anand the man, the director, the producer, the struggler, about his spiritual awakening, desires, girlfriends, family, mother, childhood. It is all about me,” he says.
Dev saab feels that everyone who can read English should read his book as this could be anyone’s story. “My life is like a open book, so I have not left out anything you would like to know. It’s personal and real. I am leaving open my life for others to read,” he adds.
ties that bind
Joy reflects in his voice as he talks about his cult movie Hare Ram Hare Krishna.
“When I came to Nepal for late king Birendra’s wedding, I went to Bakery with a German film maker. There I saw this different world of hippies where long haired white men and women were singing, dancing, smoking, making love and doing their own thing. And in their midst was this brown skinned girl sleeping in one of the foreigner’s lap. Suddenly she says ‘Bob, Bob mera chasma (my glasses).’ And I realised she was an Indian,” he recollects.
After meeting her, he came to know that she had stolen money from her mother and had run away from her home in Canada.
He decided on Hare Ram... then and there. Three days of non-stop writing at the Fish Tail Lodge in Pokhara and he was ready with the movie.
“When people first heard the title, they thought it was a religious movie. But it was one of the most modern movies of all times,” he notes.
The love for the beauty, people and culture of Nepal brought him back again for Ishq Ishq Ishq. “I have shot songs for that movie in beautiful locations. And the way I have seen Nepal, most of you have not. It’s a very beautiful country,” he adds on a whimsical note.
Dev saab was very good friends with the legendary actor and director Guru Dutt.
“When I first got a break in the movies, Guru Dutt was the assistant director. We dreamt big and promised to work with each other. He directed my film Baazi and I played lead in his CID. He went to make great movies, but after the failure of Kaagaz ke phool, he was hugely disheartened and that killed him,” Dev saab remembers.
“He was a sad man and took failure to his heart. I am not. So, being positive is very important,” he adds.
He also shared a very close relationship with his brother Vijay Anand. “We made a great team
and it’s sad he passed away so young. He directed big hits like Hum Dono, Guide, Jewel Thief,
Tere Ghar ke Samne and many more.”
Ahead of time
Today his Guide has been chosen to be screened at the Cannes Film Festival in the Classic category.
Even the making of Guide has its own story. It was first made in English and then in Hindi as RK Narayan’s story dealt with adultery and it was important to tone it down for the Indian audience.
“The English version was made exactly according to the book, but the Hindi version had a different climax,” he said. “Even at that time, Nevketan (their banner) gave movies ahead of its time. I believe in living in today. So any subject that dealt with today’s context was my interest. Be it Guide, Hare Ram Hare Krishna which was considered bold as it was ahead of its time, is about the world today.”
However, Dev saab does not believe in remaking as “redoing something is killing your creativity”.
And about him being banned from wearing black, Dev saab says with a chuckle, “Actually it all started after the movie Kalapani was released. In it my character vows that he will wear only black till he frees his father, who was jailed for a crime he did not commit.”
He does not deny his female fan following was huge and nodding to the Darjeeling incident, this evergreen icon says, “Yes that is true. And it feels great to be recognised. You work hard and people know you — that is your greatest achievement. You get inspired by their love and that is what you live for.”
(Dev Anand’s Romancing with Life will be launched at the book fair at Bhrikuti Mandap on May 10 at 11:00 am.)
Lost in world of books
KATHMANDU: The ground was already filled with enthusiastic students who were there to get lost into the world of books and knowledge. With various publication houses setting up stalls, colleges with information on their courses and consultancies to provide needed information to students on their desired countries abroad, the excitement was obvious.
The 12th Nepal Education and Book Fair 2008 began at the Bhrikutimandap, Exhibition Hall on May 9. The opening ceremony was graced by various well known names in the field of literature and media. Chief guest at the inauguration was eminent litterateur Madan Mani Dixit, guest of honour was living legend of Bollywood Dev Anand, and guest speaker was editor/writer Narayan Wagle.
The education and career section will hold stalls from May 9-12, and the book section from
May 9-17. — HNS
War in pictures
KATHMANDU: If you could not get your copy of A People War (Ladaima Janata), then you better rush to the Education and Book Fair at Bhrikutimandap. It is to be released as a Nepali language budget edition that will cost only Rs 500 compared to Rs 2,500 for the bilingual hardcopy book.
Publisher nepa~laya says this is a part of its effort to make the 179 photographs of the conflict in the book accessible to as many people as possible.
The Nepali edition of the book will be May 10 at the book fair with a signing ceremony with author Kunda Dixit from 3:00-4:00 pm. — HNS