ALI PETER JOHN
The more I think, feel and write about Dev Anand, the more I think and feel and know that I dont know the real Dev.Anand who rarely gave ne any opportunity to know him as the man behind the glorious image that he was.
There is not been a day, an evening or a night and at times even a dream that have gone by during the last thirty years without me , my thoughts being flooded with millions of memoriea about thr time I spent with Dev Sahaab and the thoughts and ideas we exchanged.
But, when it is about time to celebrate his birthday, my heart and mind grow berserk were- living all those grand moments with a man who was very much a man of the world, but still so very close to all that was saintly and godly which is something I cannot say god any man I have met during the last seventy years of my life
What was that something very un usual and almost divine about him that attracted me and still attract me and sometimes makes me wonder whether the Dav above is greater or the Dev Anand I knew and will always know as the most lovable admirable and caring human being I have met, read about or heard about?
Dev Sahaab was an extra ordinary, enlightened and yet a very ordinary and down- to- earth man. On this birthday of Dev eternal Anand as the title of his biography written by my friend Dr Prinepra Bajpai and his daughter Anshula does , I wish to bring to light the very human side of a man who was more than any superman or even any god atleast for me..
Dev Sahaab had never taken a holiday or a vacation . It was only work,work and more work for him. He worked and found ways to work even during the worst floods and storms and Tsunamis , he worked during the worst bandhs , strikes and terrorist attacks. It will be doing wrong to say that work was his worship. He once told me that he had worked on five films in a year which was a record in those days and had also said , ‘ Ali, if I would have done all the film that came to me I would not be doing justice to my work, but I could buy half if Bombay.’
A normal day for him began at 5.30 am after which he had his first and only cup of tea for the day. He had a brisk walk in the green garden outside his bungalow at Iris Park. He came back and glend through all the newspapers, had a shower , had a very hearty breakfast and then got ready, got into his car and left for office. He did not even have a glass of water all day and if he felt hungry , he would just bite into an apple or have some dry Chana’s which were always there in a jar which was kept in a very prominent place in his stylishly done up office in his penthouse.
He once was with me at the Coromondal Taj hotel in Chennai and expressed huh s desire to taste a masala dosa and before he could have a bite he was surrounded by a large crowd who had heard stories about how he was very particular about his food habits and his having a masala dosa had made meals in the next days newspapers. He may have smoke in his films , but he never smoked in real life. He didn’t drink except on some special occasions when he had a small peg of whisky and held the glass till the party was over and sometimes poured his drink into the nearest flower pot. I dont want to boost about this achievement, but I once made him drink four pegs at one of the parties hosted by my company.
On a normal day he never reached home before 11pm had another shower after which he had his first full meal of the day which was mostly Indian food like two phulkas, some rice, dal and vegetables, he rarely had heavy non – veg dishes on his plate. He went through all the papers again to catch up with what he had missed in the morning. He never went to bed before watching the news in BBC.
He was very faithful to his staff whether it was the security guard, his domestic helps, his driver( he was perhaps the only spy who had only two drivers during his entire career. He never sacked anyone and always paid them at the right time , even his company was not doing well financially. He also looked after all the medical needs of his staff. He once showed me how rarely human he was when he first dropped his driver Prem first, then dropped me home and went back driving himself.
In all my years with him , I never once heard him speaking against his contemporary’s or competitors or even utter a word like idiot, he never spoke ill against women and even when he was writing his autobiography , he told me he would not write anything that would give the woman or their families any reason to complain or cry foul .
And the best thing about him was his weakness for some of the best clothes and shoes which he got mostly from London where he had his shopping haunts .
He was once banned from wearing black because whenever he wore black there was a frenzy among women. He had a fetish for colourful caps and scarves , a large number of which were kept in a special room at the mehboob studio which was gifted to him buy Akhtar the wife of Mehboob Khan. Even when he went up to president A.P.J. Kalam to receive Dada Saheb Palki award , he was wearing his trademark corduroy jeans, a stylish shirt, a scarf and a cap and the entire house came down with applause and even president Kalam broke protocol and stood and clapped for fifteen minutes.
Dev Sahaab believed in his movie with the times, but he couldn’t change his style for his way of life. He wrote all his scripts with a fountain pen and wrote his entire autobiography in long hand and with a felt pen.
If there was one thing Dev Sahaab had a dislike for, it was falling sick and lying in hospital. The only funeral he attended were those of his brothers, Chetan Anand and Vijay Anand besides Ashok Kumar who had given him his first big break in ‘Ziddi’, Raj Kapoor and Nutan with whom he had done several films. He would arrange for the funeral of his staff and even cry for them but would avoid going to their funeral.
HE ONCE ASKED ME WHY PEOPLE WERE SO SCARED OF DYING AND WHY THEY COULDNT THINK THAT DEATH WAS ONLY AN ENTRANCE TO ANOTHER WORLD WHICH COULD BE FAR BETTER THAN THIS WORLD. I HOPE AND PRAY THAT DEV SAHAB HAS FOIND THAT BEAUTIFUL WORLD AND IS SPREADING HIS LOVE AND JOY THERE AND GIVING THAT WORLD THE PLEASURE OF BEING A PRECIOUS AND UNDYING SPIRIT WHICH HE WAS HERE AND WILL CERTAINLY BE A PART OF WHETEVER HE IS..
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