Mortal Men, Immortal Melodies: The Musical Memories of Dev Anand – Part I
“Uparwala Jaanakar Anjaan Hai” (the one above knows it all but feigns ignorance) crooned a playful romantic Dev Anand (in playback singer Rafi’s voice) to the charming Waheeda Rehman in the old Hindi movie “Kaala Bazaar” (1959).
On Dec. 3, 2011, the Indian film industry lost a great talent, superb, sophisticated actor of yesteryears, the inimitable Dev Anand. People referred to him as Dev Anand Saab (Sir) as a mark of love and respect. Known as the evergreen hero, Dev Anand also distinguished himself as a film director and producer with an illustrious showbiz career spanning over 6½ decades from the mid-1940s up until the day this energetic actor took his last breath at the age of 88 years. Dev Anand has been eternally etched into the minds and hearts of Indians all over the world as a dignified, distinguished, romantic, tragi-comic hero who sang his way into the hearts of his heroines and audiences. For me, Dev Saab was the quintessential king of romance, akin to a Shakespearean hero who conveyed the inevitable pathos of life and the intriguing and attractive playfulness of passion. Dev Anand immortalized the music and songs of many great composers/music-directors and lyricists of Hindi cinema.
Music lovers were introduced to and fell in love with so many lovely, moving and heartwarming melodies just because of this brilliant actor’s movies and his uncanny skill of bringing the songs to life. The main playback singers that lent their magical singing voice to Dev Anand were Mohammed Rafi and Kishore Kumar. Some of the other soulful singers that sang for Dev Saab were Manna Dey, Hemant Kumar, Mukesh and even composer S.D. Burman. The music of Dev Anand’s movies provided a rich showcase for great music directors/composers such as S.D. Burman, O.P. Nayyar, C. Ramachandra, Khem Chand Prakash, Salil Choudhury and so on. Dev Anand’s songs used classic poetry from great lyricists of the 1950s and 1960s like Majrooh Sultanpuri, Hasrat Jaipuri, P.L. Santhoshi, Shailendra and others. It is hard to list all the memorable melodies and songs of Dev Anand’s 114 Hindi films, but here are some of my favorites.
From the 1959 black-and-white film “Kaala Bazaar” with Waheeda Rehman as female lead, Dev Anand sang ‘Sanj Dhali Dil Ki Lagi’ in Manna Dey’s seasoned voice, and did his characteristic prancing around while singing the romantic ‘Khoya Khoya Chand’ in Rafi’s masterful voice. In the 1958 movie “Kaala Paani,” Dev Anand and ethereal actress Madhubala sang ‘Accha Ji Mein Haari Chalo Maan Jao Na’ (in Rafi and Asha Bhosle’s voices) a playful war of words with each other. The actor also emoted a more wistful ‘Hum Bekhudi Mein’ (Rafi) with actress Nalini Jaywant in the same film.
The 1961 Hindi film “Hum Dono” starring Dev Anand in a double role opposite actresses Sadhana and Nanda was a runaway hit mainly because of its iconic songs. ‘Allah Tero Nam’ by Lata Mangeshkar brought the whole country together with its patriotism and religious unity. Dev Anand immortalized songs such as ‘Abhi Na Jao Chodkar’ and ‘Mein Zandagi Ka Saath’ with his characteristic carefree abandon. “Hum Dono” also had the more moving, reflective song by Rafi ‘Kabhi Khud Pe Kabhi Halath Pe Rona Aaya,’ which displayed the tragic side of Dev Anand.
The two great filmmakers and handsome heroes Guru Dutt and Dev Anand collaborated for the highly entertaining 1956 film “C.I.D.,” which also starred the coy Shakeela as the heroine and a very young Waheeda Rehman as the vamp. ‘Ankhon Hi Ankhon Mein Ishara Hogaya’ sang Dev Anand to his heroine elaborating upon love at first sight. In the same movie, this sophisticated Don Juan of Indian cinema pursued Shakeela to the song ‘Leke Pehla Pehla Pyar.’
Dev Anand’s leading ladies such as Suraiya, Nutan, Sadhana, Waheeda Rehman, Mala Sinha, Madhubala, Nanda, Kalpana and Geeta Bali made the melodies even more mesmerizing.
More in part II
Lavanya Dinesh, an accomplished performer and teacher of Hindustani classical vocal music, lives in Tampa. She regularly performs at musical venues in India and the United States. The singer has three album releases to her credit. She can be reached at email@example.com