by Manu Sharma.
Dearest Dev Saab,
My first memory of you is actually a memory of my father, who'd passed away when I was 6. I remember hot summer nights without electricity in Faridabad ,when we would all sit on the terrace listening to CHHAYA GEET. Remember that famous program on All India Radio playing classic Hindi songs and I think your 'Khoya khoya chand' from KALA BAZAAR was the host's favorite. He would play it so often. It was certainly my father's favorite because he would hum along as I listened intently. Sometimes he would talk about you, your films or just stories about your life. I don't remember much of what he said or who you were, then. But I always remembered the song and especially now.
Yes, we are a very filmy family. We just love all things about films and are heavy watchers. The views on films, actors, music, dances, direction may differ, but perhaps the only thing we agree on in our family, is our love for you. I think it may have something to do with the fact that so many of our life's memories are around your films and your songs. You'd probably laugh if I tell you to imagine Hum bekhudi mein tumko pukare chale gaye' as a lullaby for kids. But it was my mother's favorite and she sang it to us every night. Sometimes she'd sing 'Na tum hamein jaano' I think I knew some of these songs by-heart before I even learnt poems and rhymes.
So that's how my love for you began, initially influenced by parents who were complete, obsessive fans. While growing up, mom would often tell my sister and me, stories of how Dad was completely taken by you. That he would dress up like you, try to walk like you, smoke like you. That he'd bunked college to watch Guide 52 times in the theatre. I always wondered if she was just exaggerating these stories. After all, the one time they'd shown the film on TV, it had seemed very boring to me. (Can you imagine?!)
But I guess anything would've seemed boring, atleast at that age, compared to the stories that mom would tell us of the man you were, off-screen. She grew up in Nainital and you were one of the many stars who would come there often to shoot. I can never imagine my serious, studious mom bunking college to go watch a film-shooting. But I know she did because she now proudly tells us that story You were shooting behind her house with Zeenat Aman for 'Kalabaaz' and even today she can gush for hours about how charming you were!
And here's my favorite part of this story was when my mother's aunt jokingly invited you home for tea one day. You laughed and said yes and went back to shooting. Everyone got busy with their work and forgot all about it. In the evening, after pack up, imagine the surprise of our family when you just walked into her home for tea. Mom says it was quite a sight to watch all old ladies almost jostling to make you taste the delicacies they'd quickly made for you and how you just casually sat there, chatting with them and eating singhal (a hill sweet). I've heard this story a million times and I like it just a little bit more each time. We still discuss it often,a session that always ends with everyone singing your songs.
As we grew up, my sister and I would watch your films over and over again and argue. I couldn't believe that she loved Johnny Mera Naam more than Bambai Ka Babu!! I don't know if it was your charm and natural ease, but the simple truth is, no matter what role you played, you made us all fall in love. With you. With your character, with your music. I cannot imagine anyone whose heart would not just light up when they hear Hum hain rahi pyar ke hum se kuchh na boliye Or Abhi na jaao chhodkar ke dil abhi bhara nahin does not make us all wish that romance today was as uncomplicated and beautiful as you made it seem like, in this song. Or just make our heart heavy with Kabhi khud pe kabhi haalat pe rona aaya Of course, it's a credit to the lyricists, the musicians and the singers who came up with these musical gems. But can anyone really imagine them without you?Who made each role and each of these songs his own?!
As a journalist, I've got an opportunity to meet many legends and big stars. But it is my deepest regret that I never got a chance to meet you. I had so many questions to ask you. About Guide. About life and remaining so optimistic, no matter what. But most importantly I wanted to ask you about the location of where the song Tu kahan ye bata is nashili raat mein was filmed because it looks uncannily like the street opposite my grandfather's house in Ranikhet, Uttarakhand. Some say it was filmed in a studio. Some say it was a hill station but not Ranikhet. I guess, it really doesn't matter. No matter whatever the answer, we always do a filmi hat-tip for you on that road and sing that song.
For me, most of life's ups and downs have found a voice in your songs. I have now seen 'Guide' many times. (Not 52 yet!) With each viewing, I like to believe that I come a little closer to understanding life and why my father would have liked the film so much. To shake off the sadness that grips me after each viewing of the film, I always listen to Main zindagi ka saath nibhata chala gaya It's a sort of a legacy of life's philosophy that has been passed on .From you, to my father and from him hopefully to me. Although I don't smoke, but I learn a little on how to just blow off the sadness with your songs.
Dev Saab, throughout our lives, you have given us all so much joy and so much cause to celebrate and enjoy life that we refuse to mourn your passing away. I just want to let you know that this Sunday we played your songs all day and sangeminisced about our stories of you. And on behalf of all the Sharmas, I just want to thank you for all the memories.
Manu Sharma is a freelance media professional earlier with Reuters and NDTV. She is a full time Bollywood song maniac.
Watch some Dev Anand classics here:
Kala Pani - Dev Anand's First Filmfare award winning film
The classic Hum Dono