Updated (links): 17 June 2022
Interviewing Dev Saab is not an easy task! Once part 1 of the interview was done, I was certain that part 2 would only take me a couple of hours. I hadn’t, of course, taken into account one thing – every time I tried asking him a question, he’d just belt out one of his intoxicatingly romantic numbers, and I would be umm… distracted.
It took a herculean effort in exercising my will power to continue our chat on a normal plane. That is why this part has taken so long to come to you…
Me: Dev Saab, tell me about your puff:
Dev A: It all began with my topi – it went everywhere my head did, and we were very happy together.
But then it started to have ideas above my head, and took to floating away into thin air at the drop of a hat. The inevitable happened. It was flattened into oblivion.
Instead of committing to a new topi, I decided to find myself a more permanent solution – headgear that would stay attached to my head. That is how the puff was born. It started out small…
But when Shammi [Kapoor] set up in competition, I had to make mine bigger. Then it just got bigger and bigger, till it began to dominate my persona. Waheeda was so upset with my puff that she refused to do any more films with me until I got rid of it! I begged and pleaded, but she was adamant.
That was the nadir of my career. But I refused to give in to despair, and decided to eschew headgear forthwith. It was time to flatten out the puff and concentrate on my other love - my neck wear.
Me: Dev Saab, you are the only hero from the golden era who has never sported a paunch or displayed a double chin. Whispers of plastic surgery and/or a miracle diet have followed you everywhere. Care to set those rumours to rest, once and for all?
Dev A: I was as big a fan of tandoori chicken and butter naan as any person in his right mind ought to be. But then, one day, I realised that every grain comes labeled with it’s consumer’s name, and they are all coming from Lord Rama’s granary!
This could not be. Me consuming such mass produced stuff?! Chhi chhi chhii…There and then, I decided to opt for a liquid and gaseous diet. I must admit that it was a very smart decision. You can drink and/or smoke in any bar/cafe, you don’t have to waste time masticating, and here’s the best thing – the lovely ladies love you.
Dil se milake dil pyaar kijiye (Taxi Driver, 1954)
Of course, I also took up dancing. That helped a lot to keep me slim.
Nacho ghoom ghoom ghoom ke (Sarhad, 1960)
I decided that when it came to his "dancing", discretion was the better part of valour, and swiftly changed the subject.
Me: You haven’t done [m]any historicals. Why stay away from the world of swashbuckling costume dramas?
Dev A: Teri duniya mein jeene se to behtar hai ki mar jaye (I’d rather die than live in your world).
All good things have to come to an end, and it is now time to end this long, musical conversation. But I am loath to let go without a few more
songs words from the romantic puff-throb.
Me: What would you tell the youth of today?
Dev A: Duniya kya hai dafaa karo, thokar maaro… (What is the world? Forget it, push it away…)
And play more cricket. The world needs more sport!