Indians living all over the world were in for a big shock on Sunday morning when the news came of the death of the legendary, inimitable and flamboyant Dev Anand.
Even though he was keeping poor health and lately, had started looking very frail and we all knew in the back of our mind that the end is not too far away, the news was hard to believe because we never wanted to hear this news. The '˜evergreen' hero was in London for a routine medical check-up and suffered a cardiac arrest and died in his sleep late Saturday at the Washington Mayfair Hotel in London where he was staying. He was 88. His son Suneil Anand had accompanied him to London. The hotel staff called an ambulance after family alerted them, but he died before he could be taken to the hospital. His cremation would take place in London early next week.
Born on Sep 26, 1923 as Dharam Dev Pishorimal Anand in Gurdaspur district of then undivided Punjab, Dev Anand graduated in English literature from the Government College, Lahore (now in Pakistan) before moving to the city of dreams - Bombay, as Mumbai was then called. He came to Mumbai with Rs200 in his pocket and began his career in the military censor office at Churchgate, Mumbai, for a salary of Rs165 per month. He was soon offered a debut as an actor by Prabhat Talkies to star in their film Hum Ek Hain(1946). He was offered his first big break by Ashok Kumar. He spotted Dev Anand hanging around in the studios and picked him as the hero for the Bombay Talkies production, Ziddi, costarring Kamini Kaushal (1948) which became an instant success. He never looked back. He started his own production company Navketan International in 1949 which produced 31 movies, including Guide, which is supposed to be a milestone in the history of Indian movies. For his outstanding contribution to Indian cinema, Dev Anand was honoured with the Padma Bhushan in 2001 and the Dadasaheb Phalke Award in 2002.
There has been a stream of condolence messages from all segments of the society including President Pratibha Patil and Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh. Some of the messages from the members of the movie fraternity of which Dev Anand was an integral part for more than six decades are:
- Amitabh Bachchan: An era has come to an end .. Dev Anand leaves a void never perhaps to be filled again .. his never give up belief, his joy of life ! Had just met Dev Saheb at his premiere recently .. he was weak but full of spirit ..the news papers confirming his passing away ..sad
- Mahesh Bhatt: "Dev Anand is dead". As the new dawn breaks over Mumbai I salute the memory of this star who has left left us with the glow of his smile.
- Anupam Kher: So as a Tribute to Dev Saab let's only humm his Songs today. Songs which became such an integral part of our lives. Ahbi na jao chodkar...
- Shabana Azmi: Dev Saheb robustly lived life on his own terms. He will be missed by millions but will live on thru his movies.I salute his spirit.
- Shah Rukh Khan: Dev sahib's sad demise makes me feel that the film industry is incomplete & has lost its magical energy. May Allah bless his soul.
- Madhuri Dixit: Sad to hear about Dev Anand's demise. Another icon leaves the stage. My condolences to his family. We will miss him.
- Waheeda Rehman: Very sad to hear this news. He was my first hero and I did maximum films with him. He was the finest and most decent man in the industry and we are all going to miss him. We learnt so much from him because he had so much energy in him. I used to tease him 'Dev you are like an eveready battery'.
Even though Dev Anand was an icon to my senior generation, he grew up on us as if he belonged to us. I feel that there are very few actors in the movie industry who are intellectually very capable and he was definitely one of them. He was also politically very aware and active. He led a group of film personalities who stood up against the emergency imposed by the then Prime Minister of India, Indira Gandhi in 1975. He actively campaigned against her with his supporters in Indian parliamentary elections in 1977. He also formed a party called the National Party of India, which he later disbanded. We might agree or disagree with his body of work but we have to appreciate his penchant for life and tenacity for work. His thinking was definitely much ahead of his time and all of us can learn something from his work ethics. "I never give myself a chance to get depressed. I think ahead," he would say. There is no doubt that an era has come to an end. His positive attitude towards life should be an impetus for all of us. His first movie in 1946 (Hum Ek Hain) and his last in 2011 (Chargesheet) is a reflection of his indomitable spirit and spirited energy. There is no doubt that he lived life on his own terms. He once said that a song from his film Hum Dono gave him the philosophy he has lived by all his life. As the last strains of his song Mai zindagi ka saath nibhata chala gaya fade, they leave a void in memory which no other star of the Indian film industry can ever fill in his grace, compassion and style. We should not mourn his death, we should celebrate his life.
Rest in Peace, DEV SAAB, RIP !