India loses its most charismatic actor Dev Anand

MUMBAI: With the passing away of India?s evergreen star Dev Anand, who never showed signs of aging even at the age of 88, the country has lost it most revered actor.

With his death coming within a short span when we lost personalities like Shammi Kapoor, Bhupen Hazarika, Jagjit Singh, Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi and MF Husain, the country has been left with a void very difficult to fill.

True to his wish that his last rites should not be performed in India Dev Anand breathed his last at the Washington Mayfair Hotel in central London. Ironically his family has decided to keep up to his wish that his final rites be conducted quietly, away from the media glare in a distant land. His mortal remains are to be cremated in London any day after Tuesday once his wife Kalpana Kartik and daughter Devina arrive in the British capital.

In his lifetime, Dev Anand, through his banner Navketan Films made many films like Afsar, Baazi, Aandhiyan, Humsafar, Taxi Driver, House No.44, Funtoosh, Nau Do Gyarah, Kala Bazar, Hum Dono, Tere Ghar Ke Samne, Guide, Jewel Thief, Jaaneman, Lootmaar, Hare Rama Hare Krishna, Ghungroo Ki Awaz, Awwal Number, Sau Crore, Mr Prime Minister and Chargesheet.

Among them, two films: Hare Rama Hare Krishna and Guide are said to be trendsetters. After its release, Hare Rama Hare Krishna assumed a cult status as it dealt with the disbanding of the Hippie culture. It aimed to have an anti-drug message and also depicted some problems associated with westernization such as divorce.

But the film that swung the fortunes of Anand?s production house was the Vijay Anand-directed The Guide. The Guide went through many twists and turns before and during the period it was being made because the original written by RK Narayan was totally at odds with the Indian ethos and alien to the local mindset.

The film, the script of which was re-written by Vijay Anand, broke all the rules of Hindi cinema and shattered many taboos about what could and could not be shown on the big screen. This was only because of the sheer determination of both the Anand brothers who wanted to make a film that would be a landmark in all aspects.

Anand always stood up for the youth, he having given breaks to artistes like Zeenat Aman, Tina Munim, Jackie Shroff and Tabu who have made a name for themselves after that. Aamir Khan also did a film with him Awwal Number.

His enthusiasm and undying positivity won him innumerable fans the world over. In fact, this writer was initially bowled over with his warmth when five scribes from Mumbai including me accompanied him for the premiere of Mr Prime Minister in Ahmedabad a few years ago.

Right from the time we landed in Ahmedabad, to us arriving at the Drive Inn theatre, where the premiere was held, Dev Saab was very affectionate and saw to it that we enjoyed our stay with him in a local hotel.

And when he bade us goodbye, as he had to take an early flight to Mumbai for a special screening of his film at a suburban theatre, the actor producer asked his son Suniel to see that we were taken good care of till we left the city.

After that, I became quite pally with him and attended most of his press conferences. He even introduced me to Jagan Mohan of Hyderabad-based Goldstone Media, which was behind the colorization of Hum Dono.

Today,I cannot even think that he has left us for ever for just the thought of his absence, makes my heart cry.

The man who sang Main zindagi ka saath nibhata chala gaya bade us goodbye singing Saathi Na Koi Manzil, Chala Mujhe Leke Ai Dil, Akela Kahan,,,,.

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