‘He portrayed love, pining and romance without being physically close to any of his co-stars’

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Waheeda Rehman, Actor

Photo: Indian Express Archive

I MADE my debut with Dev Anand in CID. I was a nobody, a rank newcomer, and he was a big star at the time and a handsome man. Yet, he never made me feel that way. He was warm and gentlemanly. He would come to the sets, full of energy, deliver his scenes and go back home to dream of movies.

We went on to work in seven films together. And yet, I have to say that much of his personality is an enigma to me. I say that because unlike his star persona, he could be a very shy man, not unsocial, but just reserved. I remember I invited him to a party once, this must be 40 years ago, and he tried to avoid it. When I forced him to come, he dropped in for an hour and left. He was not fond of chitchatting or gossiping. He never cultivated other hob bies, because films consumed him.

The Dev Anand style was inimitable. Many felt he modelled himself on Gregory Peck, and there was a certain resemblance, but Dev Anand was unique. Even though he was extremely stylish both off and on-screen, he was actually a very simple man. He was a vegetarian, did not smoke or drink, did not believe in a flashy lifestyle. His house, his car, everything was simple… much like the man himself.

I remember Guide most fondly. At the time of its release, there were enough naysayers who felt the subject was too bold for the Indian audience. It dealt with adultery, after all. But he was convinced that this movie had to be made. He was like that, always believed in living life on his own terms.

As I reflect back and think of the romantic image he has, it strikes me that he did that in an age when physical intimacy in movies was nonexistent. Unlike the movies of today, he portrayed love, pining and romance without being physically close to any of his co-stars.

One lesson that I learnt from him was to never look back. He was not one to wallow in nostalgia. He was the one to look forward. And so, he kept on making movies. We always knew the day he would have stopped, he would die. Movies were his lifeline.

As told to Sunaina Kumar

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