Asli Naqli – Dev Anand and Hrishikesh Mukherjee

Added today after spending a long day listening to Dev Saab’s songs and celebrating his life!

It is hard to imagine that Dev Saab is gone. But then he lived for me as a perennial heartthrob in his films of the 50s, 60s and 70s! And no one can take them away from me. Long conversations all day today were about his songs, beautiful songs, but also about the second phase of his career. I simply want to adore the Dev of the Black and white films, I want to fall in love to the tunes from his films and I want to go on a long road trip with my iPod playing HIS songs. Rest assured Dev Saab – you will never be forgotten, the films, the music, the memories will live on.

Asli Naqli (1962) – Hrishikesh Mukherjee picked the evergreen Dev Anand (almost 40 then) to star opposite a very beautiful and very young (21 yrs) Sadhna in this film. Anand is a rich playboy who runs away from home rather than marry the rich socialite fiancée picked by his very rich grandfather. Forced to slum it he finds out what is really important in life, encounters Renu (Sadhna), falls in love, has the love almost snatched away from him, but all’s well that ends well.

The story is most mundane but is told in a very heartwarming way that was typical of Hrishi Da. The relationships Anand develops in the slum, his struggles to survive, the foster family that adopts him, his various jobs, his romancing – it is all so heartwarming. The music by Shankar Jaikishan is very good and notable numbers are Tujhe Jeevan Ki dor Se baandh liya hai, Tera Mera Pyar Amar, Lakh Chupao Chup Na sakega.

Dev gives full value for money – does not miss a beat, Sadhna has to be seen to be believed – she is that sweet and beautiful and natural. She and Dev have an on screen chemistry that was very visible in Hum Dono a year earlier and continues into this film.

Another one for the A list from Hrishikesh Mukherjee.


5 Responses

  1. Others have paid tribute and here are some of my favorites:

    Mr. Rangan writes:

    RK Narayan was famously miffed about the vulgarities perpetrated on his novel on its way to the screen, but even he would have admitted that there was no better actor to play Raju Guide. Dev Anand, of course, was a big star by then, and big-budget mainstream movies about adulterous heroines who left their husbands could not be made, in the mid-1960s, without the kind of box-office insurance provided by a beloved hero. But the part was also uniquely tailored to the quintessential Dev Anand persona, that of a good-hearted but morally muddied man – the gambler of Baazi, the black marketer of Kala Bazaar, the impersonator of Hum Dono, the petty thief of Bambai Ka Babu – who is righted by pure love. Guide was the apotheosis of this aspect of the actor. He begins a sinner. He ends up a saint – literally. And among the stars of the time, only Dev Anand could have walked this tightrope between heaven and hell, without lapsing into twinkling innocence (which is how Raj Kapoor would have played the part) or sinking into remorseless self-flagellation (which is how Dilip Kumar would have played it).

  2. And talks of the famous link between Dev and Guru Dutt:

    Dev Anand’s first acting assignment came with Prabhat’s Hum Ek Hain (1946) but the film didn’t do anything substantial for his career. However at Prabhat, he met the young choreographer and assistant director of the film, Guru Dutt, thanks to a dhobi’s mix up. A deep friendship grew between the two of them. They promised each other that if Guru Dutt were to turn filmmaker he would take Dev as his hero and if Dev were to produce a film then he would take Guru Dutt as its Director!

  3. And from Shubhra Gupta:

    “What that meant really was this: Dev was the hero who best represented free, buoyant India, a man with hair that lay like a cocky comma on his forehead, a cinemascopic smile and a swagger that said: “jo bhi pyaar se mila, hum usi ke ho liye”. His famous contemporaries forged their own path to stardom, Raj creating of himself a Chaplinesque Everyman, Dilip mining the intense and the tragic and laying claim to being the serious actor. But Dev was different. He was angled from the ground, tilted a little, head cocked, being bad, being irreverent, having fun. He was cool before “cool” was a word. “

  4. From Santosh Desai:

    He spoke of his latest film Chargesheet with the same enthusiasm as he did of a film like Guide; to him they were both accounts of a present, separated by a few decades. Over the years, by exhausting his films of any notion of quality, Dev Anand, far from being rendered pathetic, became a symbol of the purity of a desire to stay in the present. Like a thumri singer who exhausts words of their meaning by repetition, till only music in its purest form remains, Dev Anand, stripped cinema of content, celebrating instead the fierce intent that drove him. What is most significant about Dev Anand films in the last few years is the fact that there are so many of them at such regular intervals. When the quality of his films first started deteriorating, we were filled with a sense of dismay at the presumed falling of an icon, but over the years he pushed past the boundaries of failure, drove through notions of good and bad, remained blindly immune to criticism and feedback till all that remained was desire to make the next film, and the one after, and the one after.

  5. From Shekhar Kapur:

    Dev Anand had put all his own money, almost everything he owned into Ishq Ishq Ishq. Money had no value to him, except to make films. Nothing else interested him really. On this evening he was talking calls from the press and the distributors. As always they started with excited congratulations and jubilations. His face sparked with excitement and joy. But over the next two hours, the tone changed. I could not hear what was being said, but I saw it on his face. His voice going softer. That spark that was Dev Anand dimming. In a couple of hours and a hundred calls later the reality overcame the dream. The film was a disaster on the box office.

    Then the calls stopped. No one called and the loneliness of failure hung in the room. Dev Anand has just lost everything. All his money and everything he sold to make his most ambitious project ever. There are few more intimate moments you could share with a courageous man than his coming to terms with complete defeat. He was sad. Reflective.

    For all of five minutes. He then looked at me and smiled.

    ” I just be back ‘Shekharonios’ (thats what he called me) and went into the bedroom of the suite. I should have felt sorry for my first foray out as a (minor) actor flopping, but was too caught up in the incredible drama unfolding in front of me.

    Ten minutes Dev Anand emerged. His his eyes were vibrant. His face excited. He was unable to sit down for his excitement. Looked me in the eyes.

    ” Shekharonios, I just thought of a great plot for my next film !!”

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