Cinema's gold rush
Vijay Anand wrote the script for the first hit of Navketan Films, Taxi Driver, when he was barely 20; directed the picturisation of the title song of Funtoosh when 22, while still studying in St Xavier’s College, Bombay, because, as he told this writer, “When I arrived on the sets from college, I found Chetan bhaiji feeling exasperated, and the shooting withheld.
I asked him what happened. He just swayed his hands in the air and said, ‘You have written the script, you direct this song,’ and left the sets. I not only directed the song but some of the real funny scenes as well later.” And for the next Navketan venture, Vijay (Goldie) Anand refused to part with the script unless he was allowed to direct it. When no amount of cajoling and reprimanding helped, the star brother conceded and Nau Do Gyarah was released in 1957 and declared a hit.
Goldie had actually peaked in the early seventies itself. His last memorable outing was Tere Mere Sapne in 1971. Speaking to the present writer then, he said: “A filmmaker is as good as his last film. We easily forget the filmmaker’s past achievements and good films…I am at a crossroads right now, between Johny Mera Naam and Tere Mere Sapne. The two lead in different directions.
I can go beyond both of them as a filmmaker. I want to go beyond them, but which road will be given to me depends on the success or failure of this film.” Sadly, Tere Mere Sapne turned out to be his last hit film, apart from Black Mail which, to some extent, showcased his genius at storytelling, song picturisation and direction.
Goldie directed 16 films altogether, of which 12 were with Dev Anand. He would have also directed Dev Anand in Nasir Husain’s Teesri Manzil had the evergreen star not walked out after the first schedule because of his differences with the producer. Although every song in his films was a cinematic masterpiece, it is the song Pal pal dil ke paas tum rahti ho that he picturised on Rakhee and Dharmendra in Blackmail for which Goldie will always be remembered.
Goldie will also be remembered for Guide, a film he had taken up reluctantly. Both the first and second choices, Raj Khosla and Chetan Anand, had backed out of the project for different reasons, the former because Waheeda Rahman refused to work with him and the latter because the permission required by Defence Ministry for his own film, Haqeeqat, had come through.
Goldie took it up as a double challenge. He reworked the script and vowed to make it better than the English version. And he did. “Making Guide was a big challenge. Firstly because it was my first colour film, and secondly because there was a foreigner as a director of the English version.”
Goldie firmly believed that “acting and actors have more possibilities than they generally realise. But, an actor who becomes a star stops growing because success comes easily to him. Roles are so tailor-made that hardly a role comes by that would bring out something new in him, that would tap the hidden resources in him.”
Our last meeting was at Dev’s 75th birthday celebration in 1998 at Hotel Leela Kempinski, Mumbai. Goldie, the man, the friend, is dead. But Vijay Anand, the filmmaker, will live forever. He relied on self-prescribed homeopathic treatment instead of an open-heart surgery, succumbing to his heart ailments on February 23, 2004 — the only time Dev Anand was ever spotted crying in public.