The evergreen Dev Anand was celebrated for his looks, his performances and his charisma, which bounced off the screen in every frame he was a part of. While there are multiple movies where the late star shone as a performer, quite a number of those films were a result of his collaboration with his brother and director Vijay Anand. Vijay Anand directed some of the most popular features starring Dev Anand in the lead, including Guide, Jewel Thief, Johny Mera Naam, Kala Bazar and Nau Do Gyarah.
Nau Do Gyarah was Vijay Anand’s directorial debut which had Dev Anand and Kalpana Kartik in the lead. Said to be influenced heavily by the Hollywood flick It Happened One Night, the movie was pitched as a comedy-thriller. But had it not been for Dev Anand, the film would have never been produced. It was a script that paid attention to the details, it was a script which respected all the artistes involved, giving them clues as to how best perform their parts while bringing the film to life. And it was a script written by Vijay Anand and bankrolled by Dev Anand. Those conversational songs of Nau Do Gyarah that take the movie forward, remember them? Or the melodious SD Burman tracks, especially “Aankhon Me Kya Jee,” sung by Kishore Kumar and Asha Bhosle. The playful number, penned by Majrooh Sultanpuri, starts with a dialogue uttered by Anand saying, “Meri apni raae hai ki zindagi hai ek mazedaar cheez.” And soon after, Kalpana’s character begins humming the song.
Those were not just fillers, they were a part of the larger narrative, the one which told us where the story was going so that the actors didn’t look completely out of sync with what was happening around them. It was this detailing that made the artistes shine. It was this aspect of a Vijay Anand movie that made Dev Anand not just a star, but a ‘star performer.’ And this kind of awareness and observation followed the brothers in their later projects as well, the most beloved of them being Guide.
Based on the RK Narayan novel The Guide, Vijay Anand-Dev Anand movie had Waheed Rahman as the female lead. In many ways, Guide was a film that broke the glass ceiling in Indian cinema of how adultery is displayed or perceived on screen. The film was centered around a seemingly impossible union, that of a happy-go-lucky guide and a married Rosie (Rahman). Guide happens to be the career-best performances of both its leads, and Waheeda Rahman would not have been on board if not for her friend, Dev Anand.
In an interview with Simi Garewal, the veteran actor revealed that it was on Dev Anand’s insistence who said it was a ‘role of a lifetime’ that she considered taking it up at all, having previously refused it multiple times. And now it seems very difficult to imagine the movie without the two of them in it. Rahman has spoken how she had a difference of opinion with the then director of the film, Raj Khosla. “But you know how persuasive Dev was. He called up and said, ‘Come on, Waheeda. Let bygone be bygones. Everyone makes mistakes.’ But I refused to budge,” she said in an interview.
Eventually, Raj Khosla was replaced by Chetan Anand, but he didn’t want Waheeda. “One director, I didn’t want and the other director didn’t want me. I think Chetansaab wanted Priya Rajvanshji, but Dev was adamant. They needed a dancer and Priyaji couldn’t dance.” Eventually Vijay Anand came onboard and he managed to extract an awe-inspiring performance from both his leads. Guide presents Dev Anand like we had rarely seen him before — Dev Anand with a beard, Dev Anand the saint, Dev Anand with a brooding, haunted look. Gone was the twinkle in his eyes, gone were those signature hand gestures. Dev Anand had transformed, appearing as two people housed in the same body. A movie of an ill-fated match and a match that you could not help but root for — Rosie and the Guide.
Then there was Kala Bazar, the noir film that once again had the hit pair of Dev Anand and Waheeda Rahman. Kala Bazar was a wonderfully ambivalent movie, a dark feature with the jolly-natured character of Anand. One of the most famous sequences from Kala Bazar is the Mother India premiere scene, which had cameos from a plethora of celebrities, including the likes of Dilip Kumar, Guru Dutt, Nargis, Lata Mangeshkar among others. The brothers shone here again, but Dev Anand more so than anybody else in the movie. His joy de vivre catching hold of viewers in its grip despite its rogue hero’s profession. Here’s an interesting trivia about Kala Bazar for cinephiles — the film happens to be the only movie which starred all the three Anand brothers; Dev, Vijay and Chetan Anand.
And finally, in 1967, Jewel Thief released. Dev Anand played a jewellery expert and worked with the police to nab the culprit in this heist-thriller. Yet another film which showed off how the Anand brothers worked so harmoniously together. Dev Anand looked in top form as he wooed and wowed the audience with his antics as the main protagonist, but it was Vijay Anand’s skill set that took the con movie to another level. The filmmaker knew how to make his actors not only perform, but how to make them look good, authentic, thus keeping us engaged at all times. Vijay Anand and Dev Anand also worked on another thriller post this; Johny Mera Naam, which successfully capped the trilogy of thrillers in Vijay Anand’s enviable oeuvre (the other two being Teesri Manzil and Jewel Thief).
In an earlier interview, Dev Anand had once said that he is liked by the people because he appears on screen as the person he is in real life. Elaborating on it further, the actor had said, “I am very honest with myself, I am very honest with my profession. I think about my work a lot. I have had the privilege of being a graduate, traversing cities across the globe, I know people, I want to know people when I talk to them. I read, I write and I think, in that fashion, I am an enlightened person. And in that enlightenment what seems right to me, I want to convey it to everyone.”
That care and passion towards cinema is evident in his movies, and more so in his earlier films where he gave multiple acclaimed blockbusters with brother Vijay Anand.