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Dev Anand death anniversary special: 10 songs of the charming unheroic hero

His smile, fluid dialogue delivery and gait had nothing that resembled the hero who saved lives and heroines. Yet, Dev Anand touched hearts when he merely tilted his head and smiled. We look at 10 of his songs that are a testimony to his charm.

Anita Paikat

Dev Anand or Dharam Dev Anand, the quinessential star who will never be forgotten, passed away on 3 December 2011. He was the only leading actor of Hindi cinema who could charm the audiences without displaying the macho characteristics that they usually looked for in a hero. His smile, fluid dialogue delivery and gait had nothing that resembled the hero who saved lives and heroines. Yet, Dev Anand touched hearts when he merely tilted his head and smiled.

His fame is a product as much for his talent as is for the songs he sang onscreen. He understood music enough to be able to do justice to the songs he lip-synced. On the occasion of his sixth death anniversary, we revisit some of those solo songs that he pulled off on the big screen.

1. ‘Marne Ki Duayen Kyun Maangu’ — Ziddi (1948)

Dev Anand began his acting career in 1946 with Pyarelal Santoshi’s Hum Ek Hain. He bagged his first lead role two years later with Shaheed Latif’s Ziddi, opposite the then superstar Kamini Kaushal. Written by Prem Dhawan and composed by Khemchand Prakash, the songs from the film were a big hit.

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Kishore Kumar sang ‘Marne Ki Duayen Kyun Maangu’ when he was still imitating KL Saigal. The lovelorn song was a perfect fit for the hero’s predicament. He is in love with his maid, but is married off to another girl. He is the failed lover on an existential trip, for he knows there is no purpose in living nor any reason to die.

2. ‘Ai Meri Topi Palat Ke Aa’ — Funtoosh (1956)

Produced by Dev Anand, Funtoosh cemented the bond between SD Burman, Kishore Kumar and himself. The film had stellar songs like ‘Dukhi Mann Mere’ and ‘Denewala Jab Bhi Deta’. But mention of Funtoosh instantly brings to mind ‘Ai Meri Topi Palat Ke Aa’. This song had Dev Anand roaming about the streets, singing to his hat that is his only companion. His theatrics with the hat made you see life in the object and a bond that is sad yet amusing.

3. ‘Hai Apna Dil Toh Awara’ — Solva Saal (1958)

This song had two versions — happy and sad. Composed by SD Burman, the songs were sung by Hemant Kumar, a voice rarely used for Dev Anand. The happy version is cheered on by a mouth organ played by a 19-year-old Rahul Dev Burman. Dev Anand is the naughty stranger on a bus, trying to tease the heroine, Waheeda Rehman, who has stolen jewellery from her own house and is eloping with a man she loves.

4. 'Hum Bekhudi Mein Tum Ko Pukare Chale Gaye’ — Kala Pani (1958)

This is another gem from 1958. Kala Pani was produced by Dev Anand for Navketan Films, which was established by the Anand brothers in 1949. The crime drama had the beautiful Madhubala accompany Dev Anand. While most songs of the film are still loved today, especially, ‘Achcha Ji Main Haari Chalo Maan Jao’ and ‘Nazar Laagi Raja Tore Bangle Par’, the solo 'Hum Bekhudi Mein Tum Ko Pukare Chale Gaye’ picturized on Dev Anand is the winner.

The song has Dev Anand turn the tables as contrary to the tradition of women folk singing for the gathered men, here it is he who sings and the dancers listen in awe.

5. ‘Kabhi Khud Pe Kabhi Haalaat Pe Rona Aya’ — Hum Dono (1961)

Dev Anand excelled in playing the drunk singer. His slow movement and sombre eyes gave all that was needed for this song. A man tired of being unemployed, leaves everything and joins the army. The song is an ode to all that he has left behind, his mother and his love interest. The actor was supported by Sahir Ludhianvi’s beautiful lyrics. How can someone not get emotional with poetry like this?

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6. ‘Aise Toh Na Dekho’ — Teen Devian (1965)

In sync with reality, this film had women pining for the love of Dev Anand’s character Devdutt Anand. Produced by Amarjeet, Teen Devian had Nanda, Kalpana Mohan and Simi Garewal drooling over Devdutt and his poetry. All three make their advances and it is for the hero to chose who among them he would accept. As tempting as the others are, his true love is Nanda. ‘Aise Toh Na Dekho’ song marks the beginning of their affections. It has a helpless Devdutt loosening his shoulders, trying to catch a glimpse of the woman he is falling for.

7. ‘Wahaan Kaun Hai Tera’ — Guide (1965)

When one speaks of Dev Anand, it is but natural to remember his character Raju Guide. The iconic film and its character was an adaptation of RK Narayan’s novel, The Guide. The US version of the film was screened at the Cannes Film Festival in 2007, 42 years after its release. The songs were penned by Shailendra and composed by SD Burman. The composer also sang a song that featured during the opening credits. Dev Anand, just out of jail, has nowhere to go. So he starts walking on an unknown path. In the journey, he sheds everything from his past life, including his clothes. By the end of the song, he is a new man, who has a much greater fight ahead, that of good and evil. The song was the perfect introduction to the film and Raju Guide.

8. ‘Phoolon Ke Rang Se’ — Prem Pujari (1970)

Though the film didn’t do quite well at the box office, its songs have all been enjoyed by the audiences over decades. The film was shot in Switzerland, and this song had Dev Anand exploring the villages of the beautiful country, with girls in peasant dresses following him.

9. ‘Pal Bhar Ke Liye Koi Hume Pyaar Karle’ — Johny Mera Naam (1970)

Vijay Anand’s Johny Mera Naam had Dev Anand play a cop. Indivar’s lyrics and Rajinder Krishan’s music were the only refreshing components of the film. The plot was done to death, the acting was so-so and the end predictable. ‘Pal Bhar Ke Liye Koi Hume Pyaar Karle’ sung by Kishore Kumar had Dev Anand trying to woo his leading lady in a house full of windows and doors. She closes one and he opens another, this sequence is stretched till the end of the song. As funny as it sounds, the composer, lyricist and singer make up for what is lacking.

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10. ‘Phoolon Ka Taaron Ka’ — Hare Rama Hare Krishna (1971)

Every brother and sister who follow Hindi cinema will know this song. ‘Phoolon Ka Taaron Ka’ was not based on the famous ‘rakshabandhan’ trope, that was until then the underlying theme of most songs dedicated to the brother-sister bond. This one was different. It was an innocent statement of what the sibling and the relationship meant. It did not speak of any gallantry from the brother, nor did it boast of the powers of the sister's prayers. Without the drama, the song truly covers the true sentiments that brothers and sisters feel.