Sunday, December 4, 2011

Romancing with life, gaata raha tera dil…

In the second half of 2007, I was still a journalist, working with a leading English news channel. It was then that I had my most personal encounter with the legendary Dev Anand. His autobiography ‘Romancing With Life’ was due to be released shortly and I was fortunate enough to get a one-on-one with him at his studio-office in Bandra, Mumbai.

As I made way to the room in which I was to interview Dev Saab, I was immediately struck by the disrepair all around. Almost every corner was piled with files, papers and knick knacks well past their due date. Here was a man who refused to let go. He lived as much in the past as he did in the present. No wonder then he was ‘evergreen’.

Dev Anand, still very much the star, walked in a few minutes late while my colleague and I were setting up the lights and camera in one corner of the room. “I’m sorry,” he said, “the calls don’t stop and I have to speak to all of them.” No, I did not think he looked youthful. His dyed jet-black hair and wrinkles told another story.  

“Wahan pe karoge?”

“Yes,” I said and explained, “I like the shadow and light effect of that lamp and it’d be a great backdrop if you sit in front of it.” And then I kicked myself. Here I was explaining lights and camera angles to one of India’s biggest stars and filmmakers. My colleague looked at me as he set the camera and rolled his eyes. “You fool.”

I expected him to say something; make us change our setup but he didn’t. “You people get younger by the day. The rest are too busy these days to meet me,” he said in obvious reference to senior journalists who perhaps had little or no time for an ageing star. But it didn’t seem like a grouse or complaint. “I like your hair maybe I should try that look in my next film.” I had a mini mo; he was making ‘Chargesheet’. I didn’t know what to say.

Over the next 30 minutes or so, he spoke excitedly about his autobiography; even had plans to write another one! The PM was going to launch it in Delhi and then a star-studded affair in Bombay. “I’ve called everyone. Hema said she’ll come, so will Zeenat,” he proclaimed. Dev Saab was at his camera friendly, witty best as he indulged a young journalist. No starry tantrums, no nothing. I remember doing about two or three takes to get just my opening piece right. He sat patiently through it all. Hell, I was nervous!

Dev Anand taught me a life lesson that day. I’m still learning though. Romancing with life, gaata raha tera dil… RIP Dev Anand.

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