Jalsa , Mumbai Dec 5 , 2011 Mon 11 : 15 PM
Renate , Magdalena and Nandita in the house .. an extended family spending extended time over gifts and India and travel and more .. a delight .. and hoping that those that come to India for the first time go back with happy memories and the desire to come back again for a longer period of time.
Its time to pick up that bundle of scripts that lie untouched in front and to read and go through them with a certain consideration. It is time to finalize that one film which shall give me the impetus of a challenge. It is time to move in front with eagerness and will, to claim and to study to work and to expect .. it is time !!
Dev Anand that human body with exceptional inhuman skills .. incessant will, speed of thought and compilation of desires. Committed to the art of cinema in more ways than one. I first saw him on a personal private visit to then Bombay in the early 60′s. I cannot remember where the exact location was, but I do know that it was in South Bombay in one of the more elegant shopping centers, inside a store of clothing material. A flash of activity preceded him and then he appeared, sharp, quick in walk, eager and conscious eyes, darting about almost surveying the terrain in one look. Some material was being unfolded in front of him, perhaps a dress he may have wanted for his next film. A quick decision, a feel of the cloth a few words to his team and he was gone .. just gone, before you could spell Dev !!
The other occasion was when I worked in Calcutta as an executive. The evenings there were always full of the joy of living. Calcutta was the swinging town of the days. The best night life the restaurants the bands and the music and that one place where all of us would struggle to get in – Princes at the Grand Hotel on Chowringhee. The guest list was exclusive and the tables expensive. We were never in any condition to afford the entrance, but a kind and benevolent friend had invited us over for a meal. And there sitting on the upper tier as we lounged through our meal, the band struck up a roll and in entered Dev Anand, with Shirley Maclaine ! She was on her way to explore the mountains and the Himalayas, he was there to do charity for a social event. I still remember that one sentence that he had to say about his guest from Hollywood, that she had accompanied him ‘for a cause that was basically Indian’ and how important it was for us all to contribute to it and understand the emotion behind her gesture. He disappeared soon after but left all of us gasping for breath, with the speed of his appearance and disappearance.
On joining the Industry and in those early days of uncertainty and struggle I would be shooting at Mehboob Studios, where Dev Saheb had his office. He would often be seen there, rushing in through the corridors, waving an encouraging word or two to those that filed past him, as he would unmount from his modest Fiat car, sitting on the front seat alongside the driver. He always sat in the front seat, the window down and his hand stylishly placed on the sill, as though the cameras were continuously rolling even when he was not at work.
He would always acknowledge an occasion or a moment of importance in the others life that he came in touch with. A brief note, hand written in large fonts were his trade mark elements. When he desired a meeting, he would volunteer to come over, rather than speak on phone or expect the other to come over to his place. Always gracious, always considerate and always with a smile of positivity on his handsome face.
We would copy his style of dress. In particular the folded sleeve over the pullover that he showed in that immortal song down the slopes of a hill station – ‘khoya khoya chand .. khula aasmaan .. And when Shekhar Kapoor, the eminent director, his cousin, who was in the Delhi University at about the same time as when we were, would attend those mixed socials in similar fashion, he would be the envy of all of us !
Jaya and he were shooting for two different films at a snow clad hill station – either Shimla or Mussorie and she would narrate to me, we were not married then, of how Dev Saheb would be the first to climb up to the location, high up on the range, whilst all the other youngsters would be struggling and breathing hard to get up there.
He wanted me to release his autobiography that he had written with great enthusiasm and care and made several calls messages and personal visits to make sure I came for the event. Of course just a call from him would have been sufficient, but it was his way of doing things that mattered. Once done, he came over personally again to thank me for attending. In todays times one does not see anyone do that. He last spoke to me on the phone when he was wanting me to come to his premiere of ‘Charge Sheet’. He complimented Jaya and me for having brought up Abhishek with good values and culture. Apparently Abhishek had bumped into him at Delhi airport and never hesitated to seek his blessings by touching his feet in reverence. He had valued that moment. At the premier he was there before all the guests arrived seated in the foyer with a motley crowd of enthusiasts around him. I was to be at another event but since I had promised I would come, I went across. He was frail and weak and needed assistance to pick him up from his chair as he insisted on standing up to greet me – ‘ ek photo kheechte hain yaar, Amitabh’ he strained his vocals for it and when it was over thanked me for coming and for the flowers that I had got him.
” Tum aa gaye , bahut achcha laga” he announced aloud now and gave me the permission to leave after.
In his 80′s he dressed like a 20 year old .. and carried it off too. I have met many ladies that have married their husbands because they looked like Dev Anand. Public swooning became a fad among the girls in conservative India, when they would encounter him on screen. He would attend a wedding reception at a large ground filled with guests and on sighting him the entire mass would move, almost driven magnetically towards him. And he was not the only star at the venue !
I read somewhere yesterday in the media where he was talking on his life to an eminent senior journalist that to remain a star you needed never to change your style and manner. Do not surprise your audiences and fans too much. Keep within the range that they identify you with. I doubt people went to see his films to discover a character change. They went to see Dev Anand and they got what they wanted all the time.
Does that explain why the all time greatest hero of American films, Mr John Wayne, never got off his horse in all his films ???
Figure it out, dear ones as I slip under the duvet …
Good night and my love to all …