Saluting Devsaab, saluting cinema

First Shammi Kapoor and now Dev Anand. There is only so much of death a lover can take. However, so be it.

When you grow up on legends they become a part of your life that’s inextricable. It’s not just nostalgia or memories. It’s about every little moment of your past that continues to live with some aspect of that legend. For instance, I can never ever forget how during college times my best friend and I would sing in perfect jugalbandi ‘Achha ji main haari’, while riding on our two wheelers, completely unmindful of the traffic or the stares we got. That moment of that time, is fixed within that song and everytime it plays I feel those teeny days are back with a refreshing gust.

Or ‘Yoon toh humne’ from ‘Tumsa Nahi Dekha‘. There was no bigger fan of Shammi Kapoor than my late uncle and it was in his house we listened to this one endlessly. And then merrily screeched on in antaksharis during our endless family picnics. No one intended it to become that way but a part of my childhood is now locked in that song forever.

So are millions of lives locked within the moments we’ve spent with these legends.

They served a phenomenon called cinema. The galaxy that envelopes like black magic and marks us for life, want it or not. They gave it loveable faces and attitudes. Dev Anand’s charming smile and the buff, Shammi Kapoor’s flamboyance and dashing demeanour, we aren’t even talking abt their good looks yet. They made us love them like we had no business doing anything else and we happily did. Loved them along with the cinema they pedalled, completely giving up our past to them. So really in a sense nothing is over or will really end because pasts never die.

These days classics rarely play on TV, but everytime they do many of us stop and give it a ear. It reminds us of what used to be, what we have left behind in the race, a past softly calling at us to take a look at it once again, just this once. And we do and are enamoured again. What is it? It is a little part of us in the face onscreen that keeps us connected. All the love we invested in them when we were young and when they shone as stars brighter than the sun.

When Shammi Kapoor passed away, it hurt because he was the personification of gentility, sophistication and a flamboyance we are yet to see in anyone else. He charmed his way into our hearts not by being larger than life but by being so full of life we simply couldn’t say no to him. His going was a full-stop to an era because they simply don’t make men, actors or stars like him anymore. And Dev Anand, well for me it was like he existed forever. In a household where Dilip Kumar was considered the greatest star of the millennium and Dev Anand’s antics were loved like a way-ward child’s, my tiny heart gave itself upto him from a very tender age. He was the handsomest man in existence for me and oh so loveable. And of course he did happy, naughty and entertaining films which made him easier to love than Dilip Kumar. But I loved him even in his less than happy-go-lucky films films, like Baazi, Jaal, House No 44 and Hum Dono. There was something about his smile and yes, that buff. For long he was compared to Gregory Peck but I found little in common between the two except the looks and the hair. Gregory Peck was suave, subtle and tender. Dev Anand was a rogue, imp and a quirky charmer you couldn’t help falling in love with at first sight.

He seemed to have been around for so long people had forgotten his beginnings. And he lived his life like he didn’t care for the end and maybe that’s why it’s difficult to understand what’s my primary emotion right now.

He cared little for the order of the day or the trends of times. He lived life without looking back and without apology. In a recent interview he mentions how he had loved Suraiya helplessly but when it didn’t work out he closed the chapter for life and went on with the business of living. It was not in his words but the demeanour that revealed the aspect of this die-hard romantic who loved romancing life. If in the later years, he made films and appearances that embarrassed us, it was more of our problem than his. He simply continued doing what he did, loved life and cinema the only way he knew, unapologetically and unabashedly. It is said that when Farah Khan approached him for the celebrity song in Om Shanti Om, he refused, saying he played only leading men.

He is captured onscreen forever and although his physical passing feels like an era has ended, the era he and Shammi Kapoor personified ended long back. The era where men were gentlemen and women ladies, where romance was beautiful and money hadn’t tainted every straw of living. Where power wasn’t an aphrodisiac more potent than art and glitter wasn’t false always. Where character mattered and legends were not created through PR but talent, persona, hard work and a deeper connect with the medium and its audience.

It is always romantic to look back upon the passing of legends, invoke the glories of the past and mourn the end of eras. It is enticing to gloss over reality and fill its chinks with the pinkness of nostalgia. Dev Anand’s passing does not tempt to paint rosy pictures because he lived his life with his feet grounded in reality, not taking himself too seriously when he was the biggest star of the country or when he was made fun of. He has left us no incentive in tinted glasses obituaries because what we admire in him remains admirable even without them.

What he embodied in his persona was unparalleled. In Dev Anand we salute the life dedicated to cinema. In Dev Anand we salute his cinema. And in saluting his cinema we salute the Dev Anand who took our hearts with him, wherever he went, and we want him to know we are never asking for it back because we are just so grateful he came into our lives and stayed for so long.

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