This appears in Bombay Times today...
Dev Saab: A real hero never dies
Dev Anand was one of the most ‘life affirming’ individuals in the world. No wonder the ‘Evergreen’ tag was reserved exclusively for him.There was something so endearing about his enthusiasm for life and all the riches it offered, it charmed his harshest critics. Every moment had to be fully lived and was! Dev Saab radiated positivism, and was the original ‘never say die’ person. We expected him to live forever, too. Or at any rate outlive us all. There was no looking back for the man who always insisted it was only the now that mattered and all thoughts had to be focused on the future. He meant it. His hunger for the next big thing was so infectious, nobody had the heart to tell him his kind of movies were totally passe - over twenty years ago. In a brutal and competitive business, people were kind and gentle towards Dev Anand, because there wasn’t a mean bone in his body either. He was a man so entirely self absorbed, so preoccupied by his own persona, to call him delusionary would have been cruel. Jaunty, perennially cheerful, gung-ho and talkative, it was impossible not to love him. His zest for making ‘motion pictures’ ( he never called them ‘movies’) was matched by his insatiable appetite for fame. Disciplined and meticulous, he lived by his own rules, unaware of the time warp he was hopelessly trapped in. It was this touching innocence and exuberance that people found infectious. Dev Saab understood branding and the real meaning of ‘star power’ almost before anybody else. His image was carefully constructed and jealously guarded by him throughout his extraordinary life. From the way he dressed ( layers and layers of clothing, with a bomber jacket, colourful scarves and high collared shirts), to the sound bytes and quotes he eagerly provided, Dev Saab was always on top of his game. The multiple clothes he wore, camouflaged his frail body. The rakish tilt to his head, as he nodded away, became his trademark. Some may have ridiculed his strenuous attempts to hang on to his youth, there were others who genuinely admired the way he refused to give up …. or should we say ‘abdicate’?
The only role Dev Saab ever played was himself. In film after film,fans went to watch Dev Anand, and not the character he was supposed to be portraying. It didn’t matter whether he was a ‘Jewel Thief’ or a ‘Guide’. Nothing changed, except the get up. People of that era called him the Gregory Peck of India. Both men were charismatic, debonair, urbane ‘matinee idols’ whose real love affair was with their image in the mirror.One got the feeling Dev Anand didn’t really care how he’d be remembered. It was too distant and distasteful a thought to the 88-year-old. Death was something that happened to other people. Old people. Dev Anand still had a lot of life ahead of him…. more scripts to write, several ‘motion pictures’ still to shoot, countless nubile starlets to discover. No Sir, you don’t say ‘goodbye’ to someone like Dev Saab. He’d laugh and look over his shoulder to see who you were addressing! Forget all the ‘end of an era’ clichés. Dev Anand must be in heaven, scouting for fresh faces, new concepts, fantastic locations. No, he won’t offer God the lead role.That is reserved for him in perpetuity. It’s true. A real hero never dies. They don’t make them like Dev Anand anymore