Not done, yet

evergreen star

Dev Anand made a foray into Hindi cinema with Hum Ek Hain (1946). He has seen successive generations of stars come and go down studio corridors and has romanced almost every heroine, right from Suraiya to Nargis to Parveen Babi and Zeenat Aman, from 1950s to 1980s. He is the only Hindi film hero who has twice romanced the elusive Suchitra Sen in Bambai Ka Babu and Sarhad in the same year — 1960.

Raj Kapoor hung in the towel after Mera Naam Joker (1970); Dilip Kumar called it a day with Bairaag (1976); Shammi Kapoor retired after Jawan Mohabbat (1971), but Dev Anand relentlessly pursued his romantic stance till Anand aur Anand (1984) opposite Rakhee and Smita Patil (though he had briefly played sugar daddy to Tina Munim in Loot Maar (1980).

Since Anand Aur Anand, Dev Anand has acted in 13 films (two outside the Navketan banner, the 1989 Lashkar directed by Jagdish Kadar, and the 1996 sequel, Return of Jewel Thief) that have also been written, produced and directed by him. Of these, Censor had the biggest star cast with Shammi Kapoor, Rekha, Hema Malini, Jackie Shroff, Govinda, Raj Babbar, Randhir Kapoor, Mamta Kulkarni, Arshad Ayub, Ayesha Jhulka and Amrish Puri essaying character roles.

Anand gave a break to eight heroines but their careers could never take off. Until his last foray, what many critics have started to term ‘senile cinema’, Mr Prime Minister, which had the dubious distinction of having just one die-hard fan watching the film in a theatre in Kolkata, failed to find an outlet in some other major territories. In between, he also made Love at Times Square in which he managed to rope in Salman Khan and Rishi Kapoor for cameos.

It would, however, be unfair not to give him and his banner credit for introducing a huge variety of talent that went on to create waves in mainstream Hindi cinema — Sahir Ludhianvi, Raj Khosla, Pt. Ravi Shankar, Uday Shankar, Vijay Anand, Kalpana Kartik, Shatrughan Sinha, Zeenat Aman, Tina Munim, Richa Sharma (Sanjay Dutt’s late wife), lyricist Neeraj, writer Suraj Sanim, Zaheeda, Amit Khanna, Jackie Shroff, Tabu (and even Farhah for that matter) and Shekhar Kapur, to name just a few. In terms of actors, he gifted the film industry with talented artistes like Aamir Khan, who played the romantic lead in Awwal Number, besides Ashok Kumar, Rajendra Kumar, Bharat Bhushan, Prem Nath, Mithun Chakraborty, Naseeruddin Shah, Anupam Kher, Rati Agnihotri, Padmini Kolhapure and Meenakshi Sheshadri. 

Like any other major star, Anand also had a string of films that never saw the light of the day. His unreleased films include Aman ke Farishtey with Hema Malini and the last Vijay Anand-directed Jana Na Dil Se Door; incomplete ones Saajan ki Galiyan opposite Sadhna; Mahesh Bhatt-directed multi-starrer Ab Meri Baari; abandoned after its first schedule, Mr John, with Rekha, Hum Teeno with Hema Malini and Tina Munim (the only Navketan production), Nawab aur Sharab, co-starring Sanjeev Kumar and Sunil Dutt among others.
Sixteen flops of the 18 films directed in three decades, beginning with Prem Pujari in 1970 (not including three duds made under publicist Amarjeet’s Nalanda Films banner: Teen Devian, Gambler, and Prem Shastra. Though, according to the credits, Amarjeet and B R Ishara were directors).

The late Shakti Samanta once said: “His films may not be running, but Dev Anand always runs.” But the incorrigible optimist’s mantra is ‘I don’t live in the past,’ and is often heard proclaiming: “My energy comes from people like you, my fans, my own creativity, and my own feelings. I want to share something with the world which nobody else has. All my thinking is original. I have tremendous energy when I am at work. Chargesheet is the best example. I am geared up, excited and raring to go.”

When asked why he has not attempted another classic like Guide, or the iconic Hum Dono, his somewhat petulant reply was: “I am always trying to make a better film than Guide. My new film, Chargesheet, is a product of my creative mind.” And then, contradicting himself in the same breath, he says, “Besides, where are the music directors who can recreate the magic of Guide? Who can match the virtuosity of the splendour we achieved in those so-called primitive times? And the dedication of the actors, the stars — all that is sadly missing today.”

Dismissing rumours that the film is based on the mysterious death of actress Divya Bharti (barely 19, and star of 13 films), he reportedly said: “I don’t know the story of Divya Bharti’s death properly. So I would not like to comment on whether it is based on her death or not. There might be some similarities. Everything might be pure coincidence.”

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