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Dev Anand was iconic because his movies were unconventional for Indian mores, but still radiated a strong sense of optimism about love, humanity, and the unseen hand of the divine. He was handsome in that older guy kind of way, probably because his first breakout successes came slightly later on in his life. He tackled interesting subject matter, turning R.K. Narayan's book The Guide into both an English and a Hindi film. This was in 1965; the Hindi version featured music by the great S.D. Burman, and the English version, made for American audiences, featured additional direction by Tad Danielewski. It tackled a range of topics, from a dissolving marriage to a couple "living in sin" (taboo in India in those days). Waheeda Rahman who played his love interest in The Guide took on difficult subject matter, even putting her own career into jeopardy. It's a bit of a tear jerker in the end, with a deeply spiritual message.
Another movie with Dev Anand in it was Hare Ram Hare Krishna (1971), which featured the hit song "Dum Maro Dum" (translated loosely as "Take Another Toke" -- see maal). It featured the beauteous Zeenat Aman as an Indian girl lost in the world of hippies. Beatlemania brought a throng of Westerners to India in the late sixties and early 70's, much to the bemusement of locals. On the one hand, there was great appreciation of Eastern mysticism, a source of pride for Indians. And on the other, there was the sex and drugs. Hare Ram Hare Krishna was Dev Anand's directorial debut, featuring what many viewed as a distinctly Indian take on the influx of hippies to India, and a view of Western civilization and what it did to children.
Other movies of his that were mega-hits include The Jewel Thief and Manzil. He was a prolific actor and movie-maker. He launched the career of many actresses, and was even involved in politics, protesting Indira Gandhi's Emergency. On the day that he learned of his death, this now not so eng bai shed a tear or two watching clips from The Guide and from Manzil. They flowed down cheeks now not so full of baby fat.
Thank you, Dev Anand, for being with us, and for giving us beautiful cinema.
But herewith, Samosapedia translates for you one of his famous lines from the movie The Guide:
"Jo aadmii apne naseeb ko kostaa rahtaa hai,
uskaa naseeb bhii use koste rahte hai.”
"A man who constantly curses his fate, is also constantly cursed back by his fate."