Ali Peter John
During the last 10 years of his life, Devanand had any number of writers from India and abroad who were willing to write the biography about his life and career but Dev was not willing to give anyone the authority to write the ultimate book about him. He often asked me, ‘Who can write a book about Dev, except them?
One morning,he called me and asked me to come to his office as he wanted to give me a surprise. He showed me a pile of larged size notebooks and a number of felt pens of different colours. He said we wanted me to be the first to know that he was about to start writing his autobiography and he just took one of the notebooks and started writing and then there was no stopping him for the next three monhs. He filled all thoes notebooks in his own handwriting which was all in capital letters.
He kept me in touch with the number of paragraphs and pages he had written and even gave me the privilege of reading most of the captures he had written and there was no way I could stop reading, because he was telling one of the most exciting and interesting stories about a man whos career spanned six decades and more.
He has finished writing the book in three months and 20days,which I think is the shortest time any writter has taken to write a book which ran into a thousand pages.
He didn’t have to look for publishers because every reading publisher in the country was ever willing to publish a book written by him about his life.
The winner turned out to be big Harper & Collins. They took some time to realise the book and when he edited version came to Dev, he was disappointed,but Harper& Collins told him that they would publish the book in two parts. The title of the book was to be ‘Romancing with life ‘ Dev’s own tittle.
Dev told me he had come out with the truth about everything in his life and all about his work and the people he had worked with but the only thing he had avoided was writting about the women in his life as he said he didn’t want to harm anyone at this stage of his life.
It was time to decide the date of the release of the book. He asked me if Amitabh Bachchan would realse his book. I asked him if he was joking. He said he wasn’t . I told him to dial Amitab’s number and before he could take a decision I dialled Amitabh’s number and gave the mobile to him. It took him only 2 mins ti make Amitabh agree to his request and I was surprised to see the excitement on his face.
The book was released by Amitabh at The Leela hotel and among the guest were some of Dev’s favourite actores like Waheeda Rahman, Hema Malini, Raakhee and Tabu. Hema and Raakhee had great love and respect for Dev and performed poojas on his birthday and on the release of any of his films.
It was now time to release the book in Delhi. He again consulted me and I asked him why he couldn’t try for the then Prim Minister Doctor Manmohan Singh. He said he didn’t have much of a relationship with him . I asked him to try his number and tell him about his book.The Prime Minister was only too happy,but he said that the day Dev wanted to release his book (September 26) was also his birthday and he requested Dev to have the launch of his book at his residence and what a launch it was!
I wonder what happened to all those pages the publishers left unused. I wonder what happened to all there promises of bring out a suqual to the book. I also wonder about what kind of a deal his son had struck with the builders who had bought this bunglow, ‘Anand’ on Pali Hill with the promise of giving him two entire floors in the new building that was to come up. I wonder what has happened to all the most modern sound equipments Dev had purchased just a few years ago to make his studio the best in Asia. I wonder what has happened to the vast treasure of books Dev had in his library in his pent house.
And now I also wonder and worry about what may happen to his once idyllic bunglow, Iris park in juhu. How long will I go on wondering about a man who was one of the greatest wonders in my life?
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