Dev Anand: The eternal romantic hero of Bollywood

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Mumbai: Dev Anand, the debonair hero, whose signature puff hair and swagger enchanted fans across generations, outlived many of his contemporaries with his infectious zeal for life and cinema.

The charismatic star lived by the philosophy of "Main Zindagi Ka Saath Nibhata chala gaya, har fikar ko dhuen mein udata chala gaya," a song written for him by friend Sahir Ludhiyanwi in 1961 film "Hum Dono".

The 88-year-old versatile actor-filmmaker, who passed away in London on Saturday night, has left an indelible mark on his fans with his style of dialogue delivery, tilted hats and a penchant for nodding while speaking.

His latest project "Chargsheet" is ready to release. He was also planning a extention of his cult hit `Hare Rama Hare Krishna`.

In his last interview to PTI in September on his 88th birthday this September, Dev Anand had said,"My life is the same and I am at a beautiful stage at 88. I am as excited as I was in my 20s."

There has always been a hint of romance and intrigue in Dev Anand`s personal and professional life which made him a living legend. Keeping up with his image of an evergreen star, the actor had said that he wanted to be reborn as Dev Anand.

In an interview to PTI last year, he said, "I am always in a rush because time is slipping away and I am chasing it, chasing it. I have so many stories to tell but where is the time. I wish I am born again as Dev Anand and people will see a young star 25 years later. That will give me some time to finish what I want to do."

His films spoke of his modern sensibilities and desire to portray tomorrow`s headlines today. The Bollywood legend always said that his films were expression of his world view and hence dealt with socially-relevant subjects. The Bollywood legend redefined and enriched cinema with everlasting classics like "Guide", "Taxi Driver" and "Hum Dono".

When his contemporaries like Raj Kapoor and Dilip Kumar stopped playing the leading men in movies, Dev Anand continued to woo young heroine in movies till 1983.

Even though after `Awwal Number` (1990), his movies did not do well at the box office, the evergreen hero`s mantra was always to think positive. "I never give myself a chance to get depressed. I think ahead."

His recent movies focused on the themes of present times like "Sau Crore", "Censor", "Mr Prime Minister" and the latest "Chargesheet" where he always played the central character.

In 2007, he released his memoirs "Romancing with Life" where he admitted he has never looked back in his life, always preferring to remain optimistic and confident about future.

Born Dharamdev Pishorimal Anand in Gurdaspur of undivided Punjab to a well-to-do advocate Pishorimal Anand on September 26, 1923, he graduated in English literature from the Government Law College in Lahore.

He was the second of three brothers born to Kishorimal Anand. Dev`s younger sister is Sheela Kanta Kapur, who is mother of Shekhar Kapur. His brothers Chetan Anand and Vijay Anand were also into filmmaking.

Love for acting made Dev Anand leave his hometown and arrive in Mumbai (then Bombay), where he began working at the military censor office at Churchgate, reading letters written by soldiers to their families.

His first breakthrough "Hum Ek Hain" in 1946, with Pune`s Prabhat studios, did little to boost his film career but he found a lifelong friend in fellow actor-director Guru Dutt. The duo made a pact: if Dev produced a film, Guru Dutt would direct and if Guru Dutt produced a film, Dev would act in it.

Dev Anand was offered his first big break by Ashok Kumar for Bombay Talkies "Ziddi" co-starring Kamini Kaushal in 1948 which became a success.

Always the one to think ahead, he decided to start producing after Zinddi`s success by launching his own company Navketan in 1949. As promised, he signed his friend Guru Dutt to direct the crime thriller `Baazi` (1951). This creative collaboration was a success.

In the 40s, Dev Anand got a few offers to star opposite singer-actress Suraiya, an established actress of that time.

While shooting these films, he became romantically involved with Suraiya. The two of them were paired in seven films together –"Vidya", "Jeet", "Shair", "Afsar", "Nili", "Do Sitare" and "Sanam" , all hits at the box office.

He finally proposed Suraiya on the set of "Jeet" but Suraiya`s maternal grandmother opposed the relationship as they were Muslim and Dev Anand Hindu. Suraiya remained unmarried all her life. He married Kalpana Kartik after meetin her on the set of "Taxi Driver".

He broke new grounds, playing a smuggler in "Jaal", absconding gang member in "Dushman", blackmarketeer in "Kalabazaar" and a murderer in "Bombay Ka Babu".

Still, critics accused him of being more style than substance. But, Dev Anand proved his detractors wrong – first with a class act in "Kala Paani" (1958). Then came "Hum Dono" (1961) and he finally sealed all doubts with a nuanced performance in "Guide" (1966).

Honoured with the Dadasaheb Phalke Award in 2002, Dev Anand had also been politically active. He led a group of film personalities, who stood up against the 1975 Emergency imposed by then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. He actively campaigned against her with his supporters in 1977 Parliamentary elections. He also floated a political outfit, National Party of India, which he later disbanded.

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