I Have Not Seen The Dev (God) Who Created This World. I Have Seen A God Who Has Given Me Life And Joy And Lives Forever
It seems like eternity words and words, millions and billions of waves of words have been flowing anxiously, restlessly, breathlessly and relentlessly in their attempts to describe an enigma, am individual, a dream, the world knows as Dev Anand. Little do these innocent people know that Dev Anand was a dream who had come to our world to distribute his dreams and make life more beautiful and even meaningful, Dev Saheb as I know him (I refuse to talk about him as the past or as “the late” because he is forever, he is for all time).
I have known Dev Saheb for the last 36 years and I will say with all the sincerity I still have with me that I have known nothing or very very little about him. I visited him every week, it was a direction given to me by my being because in meeting him there was so much hope, so much optimism, so much enthusiasm, so much excitement, so much of life over-flowing that I just kept listening to him or watching him and coming back very exhilarated, because I had known little less about him and my curiosity to know him would only bring me back to him again and again. He too seemed to love his image and his entire existence as a wonder man—a man who loved to be a mystery to the very end. There were times when I missed our meetings and then the phone would ring and he would say, “Kahaan ho, Ali, aaja aaja, chaai peetein hain,gapp (gossip) maartein hain” and I could not wait to take the next available auto and rush to “Anand”, his kingdom of dreams. We spent some of the greatest moments and he told me endless stories of his glorious and adventurous life during the last sixty-five years I watch him, heard him and kept waiting for more but left with the same feeling of leaving him unknown just to meet him the next time before he could call. The last time he called me and said, “Ali, I have news for you. We are going to take a break after I complete and release “Chargesheet”. You and me will drive down to Mahabaleshwar and spend two days in the hills and I will tell you all that you would like to know about me.”I waited for this great time of my life, till one night a female voice sounding like a ghost told me something that had taken my life away for several days. Dev Saheb had quietly slipped away singing, “Bahut door mujhe chale jaana hain”.I don’t give up easily and in Dev Saheb’s case I will certainly not give up, let the world say what it may. My quest to know Dev Saheb continues….
But, fortunately, I have another Dev (God) above who gives me the same pleasure that Dev Saheb gave me. One of the best gifts that the Dev above has gifted me with is the Bajpai family. Mr Trinetra Bajpai is one of the leading chemical engineers in the world, his wife is a known actress and his daughter Anshula who lives in London is a pretty, talented and a very good writer. Mr Bajpai had, I heard, met Dev Saheb when he was a bit. He had accompanied his mother, Mrs Shanti Kumari Bajpai, a renowned litterateur in Hindi. Dev Saheb wanted her to train an actress from abroad whom he had signed. Mr Bajpai then went abroad and was a NRI for almost two decades and when he came back, he set up his own office in Mumbai and then got down to what he loved most—-films, music and entertainment. He started with a mega television serial, “Bikhri Aas Nikhri Preet” which was a huge success on Doordarshan. He had a very strong fascination for Dev Anand and had a massive collection of every possible piece of writing and a grand collection of photographs of Dev who was his icon. I was overwhelmed seeing it. I arranged a meeting between Mr Bajpai and Dev Saheb. Anshula was also there. Dev Saheb had met Mr Bajpai more than twenty years ago, but he remembered his face and even his mother. That was a beginning of a grand relationship between Mr Bajpai and Dev Saheb who grew so fond of the diaries of Mr Bajpai engineering company that he used them as his private diaries in which he jotted down his personal thoughts and feelings. Mr Bajpai and Anshula had written a script especially keeping Dev Saheb in mind, but Dev Saheb as usual was neck deep in work, but assured the father and daughter that whenever he did an outside film (besides Navketan, his company), they would get the first priority. I remember Dev Saheb telling me that Mr Bajpai was the best man who could write his biography because he knew things about him and Navketan which he himself didn’t know.
Time passed (why doesn’t time so at least for some people like Dev Saheb?), Mr Bajpai and Anshula, like all the other millions of admirers of the evergreen enigma, slowly got used to a world without Dev Saheb, but they had an idea. They world write a book on all that they knew about Dev Saheb. It was a great idea and the way the father and daughter went to work on the book they called “Dev Eternal Anand” was something to be seen to be believed. Mr Bajpai forgot all about his plants and projects and went on a hunt to gather all the information he could, besides the information he asked had. I had the privilege of reading some of the early pages and got so involved that I volunteered to read the proofs of the entire book and what I found was a treasure trove of facts, names, stories, some of the most unusual photographs (like the one on the cover which is one of its kind), information about anything and everything to do with Dev Saheb, his career as a producer, director, writer, studio owner and a great discoverer of talent. The book talks about his films, how they were made, the people who were involved in making them and every song from all the films he worked in. There are stories about his heroines and some interesting anecdotes, and slices of some of the spiciest, but true to life stories. It could have taken some of the best biographers a long time to come up with a book like this, but the father and daughter team have made it all possible within months. Ask them how and they smile the same kind of mischievous and mysterious smiles. I firmly believe that this is the ultimate about the man who let very little an him made known. I salute the father and daughter for crossing new bounds, barriers and barricades to reach out to the real Dev Anand, the ultimate and only the ultimate man has taken him wherever he has gone….
I, however, refuse to give up on the promise Dev Saheb had made to me to tell me the whole story about him in the Fredrick’s hotel in Mahabaleshwar where he always had his own room whenever he wanted. Call me mad, if you may, but I believe that my belief in Dev Saheb will come true some day, some time, because this is what can happen if the universe conspires as my friend and one of the greatest fans of Dev Saheb, Naseruddin Shah says.I have gone on and on about Dev Saheb because I know I will never see the God I believe in, but I have always believed and will always believe in the Dev (God) I saw, I met and I believed and will believe.
(Excepts from my foreword to “Dev Eternal Anand”, the biography of Dev Anand, written by Dr Trinetra Bajpai and Anshula Bajpai)
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