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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Dev Anand: A musical interview (Part 1)

Updated (links): 18 June 2022

k_bazaar00027I was shocked when I read about Dev Anand’s death. He may have been the superstar of my parents’ generation, but he certainly looked like he would outlive me! If I’d ever thought about it, I’d have said that he’d go on making movies forever. Over the years, he’s spent so much time in my living room, bringing so much fun and entertainment with him, that it is impossible not to feel a bit sad that he is no more. I am only "a bit" sad because the Dev Anand I knew is forever young, handsome, and always there in his lovely films. (I refuse to even admit the existence of his post-1960s career!)

Of course, his sad demise reminded me that it was high time I paid him a visit in the 1960s. While I was there, I took the opportunity to quiz him about his great romances with women and wine.
Me: How did you get started on the path of romance? I can understand the love of women, but where does the wine fit in?
Dev A: It all started when I did these two films with Nargis. They were abysmal failures. No matter how tunefully Nargis asked the audience to stay, by intermission, the theatre was empty.
Theher o jaane wale–Birha Ki Raat (1950)
Nargis finally left me for Raj Kapoor and I drowned my sorrows in sharaab
Saawan ke mahine mein - Sharaabi (1964)

Kabhi khud pe kabhi haalaat pe – Hum Dono (1960)
Me: B-b-but weren’t you in love with Suraiya back then?
Dev A: That does not mean I could take being ditched for Raj Kapoor! Besides, if Prince Salim/Jehangir could have more than one true love, why couldn’t I? And I’d barely recovered from this when Madhubala broke my heart afresh. There I was, pledging my love to her, as tunefully as Mohammed Rafi. Can you guess what she did? She told me I wasn’t good looking enough for her!!! Then she went off and married Kishore Kumar!
Dil hai aapka huzoor – Jaali Note (1960)
Then there was Waheeda. We got along fine at first…
Tum to dil ke taar–Roop Ki Rani Choron Ka Raja (1961)
But then she asked me to go away, and not trouble her!
Jaao na sataao–Roop Ki Rani Choron Ka Raja (1961)
Me: Is that when you began dating wine?
Dev A: I tried to drown myself in my music, but I could not forget the lovely eyes that would never reciprocate my love…
Yaad aa gayi woh nasheeli nigahen–Manzil (1962)
So I turned to wine. But that romance was also doomed. My glass would run dry very often, and I always had to sing for more. Sigh!
Chheda mere dil ne–Asli Naqli (1962)

It looks like filmmaking wasn't the only common denominator between Dev Saab and his friend Guru Dutt! While Dev Saab’s moroseness was prompting me to shift to happier topics, I was loath to let go without one final question:
Me: What was the true cause of your break-up with Suraiya?
Dev A: Yeh dil na hota bechara, kadam na hote awaara, to khoobsoorat koi apna humsafar hota (if it weren’t for this poor heart, these straying feet, I would’ve had a beauty at my side)…
Yeh dil na hota bechara–Jewel Thief (1967)

That was refreshingly honest! And he went on to be candid about a lot of other things too, as you will see in the second part of this interview…


  1. wowwww you met the charming man himself!! So lucky. YOu know, I'm so aghast at all these legends passing away this year that IO cannot bring myself to write anything. I feel so lost inside :( They stay on in my memory, they will live forever!

  2. Only in the movies, Sharmi, I met him only in the movies! :D It is sad to hear about the death of our favorite actors, but they are immortalised on celluloid and their onscreen images is what we viewers love, after all - so our loss isn't so great...

  3. So you had a seance last evenign, dear bollyviewer! Good for you!
    A fitting tribute to Dev, his women and wine! Thanks for that Nargis-Dev song. That was new for me!

    It is nice to see that Dev continues to entertain us through you! :-)

    When it comes to Dev one can only say:

  4. bollyviwer, I'm glad 'inspiration' struck you this way! :) Love it! Beautiful juxtaposition of songs too. Thanks for cheering me up. ps: So Zeenat wasn't the only heroine he lost to RK? ;-)

  5. harvey, Sau saal pehle reminds me way too much of it's awful parody (Sau saal pehle Dev Anand gavaar tha, gadhe pe savaar tha) to be my theme song for him. I do empathise with the sentiments, though.

    Re the Nargis-Dev song, I'd no idea he'd even done any films with her till I started doing research for this post. It struck me that I'd never seen the two together, but research revealed that they had worked together even though the films don't seem to have survived today... Seems like Dev Saab worked with every major leading lady Bollywood produced for decades!

    Anu, thanks! His songs do tell a tale of their own, don't they?

    And no, sadly, Zeenat was not all he lost to Raj Kapoor. There was Vyjayanthimala, Waheeda Rehman... the list is endless! ;D His only consolation was that he still had his RD Burman - so while RK got stuck with the likes of Jhooth bole kauwa kaate in the 70s, Dev A still had great songs made for him.

  6. You're amazingly creative, bollyviewer! What a great idea for a post - and some little-known songs there that I'm going to begin listening to right after I've posted this comment.

    Waiting for part 2 of the interview!

  7. Lovely post on one of Bollywood's true legends. Like you, I liked Dev best in his glorious B/W films (with exceptions given to 'Guide' and a few others).

    But on your interview you did forget to ask him how he felt when Homer Simpson decided to pick one of his songs when 'The Simpsons' did their tribute to Bollywood episode ;)

  8. Yeah, I was also amazed, when while going through the encyclopedia of indian cinema I came across Birha ki Raat. I think they worked together in one more film.

    "His only consolation was that he still had his RD Burman"

    The only good reason to go near Dev's film in the 70s is R. D. Burman. But Dev left him for Rajesh Roshan, came back to him and left him again for Bappi Lahiri.
    Navketan without the Burman family would have been only half as good!

  9. "Sau saal pehle Dev Anand gavaar tha"

    The version popular in my environs was sau saal pehle Dev Anand jawaan tha.

  10. Glad to hear about Dev's association with wine ;)
    LOL at the review & the comments, and waiting for #2

  11. LOL!
    We can pick the phrase of our choice;
    "Sau saal pehle Dev Anand gavaar tha"
    "Sau saal pehle Dev Anand jawaan tha"

    I think the latter is hilarious as it fits the later stage of his life, but 'gadhe pe swaar tha' had me ROTFLOL!
    It is a lovely song though, and I like the way you have stringed a musical interview.
    Looking forward to part 2.


  12. Hey, where is Part 2? You can't leave us hanging like this!Besides, we have a date to keep!

  13. dustedoff, thank you sooo much! :D Part 2 of the interview is on it's way - as soon as I can get my head out of the 60s (and Dev Saab's humongous list of videos on youtube).

    Sanket, thanks for that video. Bet Dev A was mighty pleased to see his song immortalised. In the 1960s though, he had no idea about it, so he could not comment. I'd have to interview him in the 21st century to get his reactions - and I am not really keen to do that! ;D

    harvey, according to the internet, Nargis-Dev did two films in 1950 - Birha Ki Raat and Khel. Wish I could find even one stray video of either of them...

    RDB is no reason to go near a Dev film in the 70s - you can enjoy the music just as well without watching the movie!

    In your version of Sau saal pehle, what is the second line?

    samir, Dev A is turning out to be Bollywood's first oenophile! :)

    pacifist, I prefer Sau saal pehle Dev Anand jawaan tha, but when you follow it with Aaj bhi hai aur kal bhi rahega, then the parody fails to be appropriate!

    Anu, Dekh humen awaaz na dena... aaj chale hum 1960s ki duniya nahin basaane! Let me savor my time there, before you pull me back into the mundane 21st century.

    I haven't forgotten our date. Just hurry up and get better. My DVDs (and finger on remote) are ready to go anytime. :D

  14. Been waiting for your retrospective. and as always great. Yes, with Dev it was all about the songs.

  15. Dev Anand has 2 distinct personas (for want of a better word), the pre-wig era and the post-wig era. The old Dev is to die for but the second era I would like to erase from existence.

  16. Wow u spent really some candid moments with the superstar. The blog is full of emotions and its good to know the humbleness of such as great actor. He might not be physically present in flesh and blood on this earth today but his movies will keep him immortal over time O☺.

  17. It's true that Dev Anand has 2 distinct personas, the pre-wig era and the post-wig era.