Dev Anand would be nostalgically remembered by filmgoers of the golden era of Bollywood that saw the transition from the black and white age to the age of colour. He happened to be one out of the famous quartet of heroes of that golden age, along with
Raj Kapoor and the evergreen
Ashok Kumar. More than his core acting abilities, Dev Anand was remembered more for his sheer handsomeness and an unbroken style of delivering dialogues with subtle and sudden modulations, and a fascination for nodding while delivering. Yet he had hit films to his credit, one after the other, in the 100 plus films that he had acted in, most of which had him as the central male protagonist.
Like most of his famous contemporaries, Dev Anand also came from Punjab, and having completed his graduation in English Literature, he moved over to Mumbai for a job in the early 1940s. This seems to have been a happy coincidence for him, as his older brother Chetan, who was already in Mumbai and an active member of the Indian People's Theater Association (IPTA), encouraged Dev into the performing arts. Dev himself was also inspired by seeing films and nursed a desire to emulate famous actors of his time like Ashok Kumar. His own break came in the 1946 movie “Hum Ek Hain” produced by Prabhat films, whose production team was won over by his handsome looks and were confident of his making the grade in a film career. As luck would have it, during the making of the film he struck up a friendship with the famous
who also went on to become one of the renowned producer director and actors of the period.
This association resulted in so many hit films over the next 10 years, starting with the 1951 film, “Baazi”, which incidentally was the very second film of Dev’s own production House Nav Ketan. This film was directed by Guru Dutt, and its tremendous success propelled Dev onto the front lines of Hindi cinema. This was followed in 1952 by “Jaal”, which like Baazi was another big musical hit. Even though Guru Dutt himself got busy as an actor, the Dev Anand – Guru Dutt co-operation continued through director
, who was Guru Dutt’s chief assistant and whom he seems to have specially earmarked for Dev’s films, like “
” (1956) and “Kala Paani” in 1958.
Like Dev’s association with Guru Dutt, his working together with the singing star Surayya in late 1940s also raised a lot of ripples, for its perceived romantic overtones, the duo having worked in seven films, one after the other between 1948 and 1951, including hits like “
” (1950) and ending with “Do Sitare” . Likewise, Ashok Kumar too had a hand in boosting the career of Dev, after the latter had become typified as an actresses’ hero in the 40s. It was in “
”(1948) that Ashok Kumar, with his
’ connections, selected Dev to be the hero, and it worked wonderfully well with the film becoming a overnight hit. This film also marked the beginning of
becoming the singing voice of Dev Anand, an association that lasted till the legendary singer’s death.
To recount the life of a legend like Dev Anand, is not easy, and one can hardly do justice to his entire career, studded as it was with so many hits. The films from a more serious genre that would obviously remain in people’s minds would be “
” in 1968 based on R.K. Narayan’s famous novel; and the earlier “
” in 1961, and “
” in both of which he has given sensitive portrayals. On the lighter and romantic side were “CID” in 1956 and “
” in 1968 both being crime thrillers and “
Hare Rama Hare Krishna
” in 1971 which saw Dev in his directorial debut.
During a long career, as long as his, it was natural to have to his name a string of awards and honours, but more than any of these would be his inimitable style that would remain in the minds and hearts of his fans for years to come.