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Monday, October 01, 2007

A charmer all the way

“The charm will go with me. It has always been my strength and will continue to be so till the end,” says Dev saab, the ultimate charmer, entertainer and filmmaker.

At 84, the actor-director-producer still comes up with witty one-liners, has that Gregory Peck swagger and mesmerises women. The thespian continues to dream of making films that would leave even Hollywood awestruck.

Early years

Born on September 26, 1923, as Devdutt Pishorimal Anand in Gurdaspur in undivided Punjab, he graduated in English literature from the Government College, Lahore, before his ‘flight’ to Mumbai to satiate his love for acting. He began his career in the military censor office at Churchgate, Mumbai, for a salary of Rs. 160. He got his first break in 1946 in the film Hum ek hain and within three years, launched his own production company, Navketan. Since then, he has never looked back. He created a niche for himself in an era that had boasted only a few legends (Raj Kapoor, Dilip Kumar and Raj Kumar) with his unique style and mannerisms.

Affable as ever, the actor says cinema has is his life: “It may sound clichéd but my life revolves around lights, cameras and actors. That’s what I have been doing for the past 62 years and shall continue to do.”

About his latest projects… He’s working on two films — Charge Sheet and Heartbeats are the same. “The first is a murder mystery and I am working on the cast. Heartbeats are the same is an international film being shot in Croatia.”

He draws inspiration for his films from day-to-day happenings. “I give great importance to life. Every happening, small or big, has an impact. The story of Charge Sheet is based on the corruption in the police department,” says the veteran actor.

He has plans to make a film on the massacre of the royal family of Nepal. “That country is close to my heart. I shot Hare Rama Hare Krishna in Kathmandu and fell in love with the place and its people. I enjoyed the hospitality of the Royal Family a couple of times and I do have plans to make a film. I even have the script ready in my mind, but the filming will be subject to the consent of the Royal Family. I do not want to rake up a controversy or hurt the feelings of a family,” he says. His production company will also release the 1961 hit Hum Dono in colour shortly.

Dev Anand is so inspired by life that he says it prompted him to pen his autobiography Romancing with life. The 465-page book was released by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh recently. “The first few words were written on the first day the U.S. attacked Iraq in 1991. I was in the U.S. and saw the attack on television. On one side, I saw the American people rejoicing and, on the other, I saw a city (Baghdad), the cradle of a great civilisation, being bombed. This irony of life impelled me to write my biography. I’ve focussed only on happenings from childhood till date.”

Miles away from controversy and always non-political, he still manages to express his ideas on Indian politics in his imitable style. “I dream of a Parliament that would comprise the best men and women. They should be the pick of the nation,” he says.

Throughout his six-decade career, he is among the few in the industry to have worked with a various heroines — from Suraiyya and Waheeda Rehman to Zeenat Aman and Tina Munim. He misses his old friends Guru Dutt, Mohammed Rafi, O.P. Nayyar and S.D. Burman, but has high regard for the present-day crop of actors, directors and music composers. Perhaps that’s why he is regarded as the most affable person in Bollywood!

(The Hindu, Metro plus,Cennai,01:09:2007)

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