Collaborators on many classics: Dev and Vijay Anand

Dev Anand was always memorable on screen, especially when directed by younger brother Vijay. On Vijay's 13th death anniversary (23 February), we go through the films the two brothers made together.

Sonal Pandya

Dev Anand launched Navketan Films in 1949 with elder brother Chetan. In Sanskrit, navketan means newness. The banner flourished with the creative talents and inputs of Chetan and Dev. Occasionally, an outside director came into the fold.

After their successful partnership on films like Taxi Driver (1954) and Funtoosh (1956), the Anand brothers took a little break. Dev then turned to younger brother Vijay, fondly called Goldie, to step up. Together, they created some instant classics.

Dev solidified his star image and produced some of his greatest work under Goldie's direction. Vijay and Dev jointly made 10 films as director and actor, respectively, and helped further each other's reputation as the best in the business, against fierce competition.

Nau Do Gyarah (1957) was Vijay Anand's debut as director. The film was shot in 40 days in spite of separate filming locations in both Delhi and Mumbai.

Nau Do Gyarah was an early road film with a runaway bride masquerading as a young man while Dev Anand played the lead, Madan, who has recently come into a small fortune from his late uncle. Vijay handled the romance, comedy and suspense of Nau Do Gyarah well with the added bonus of the newly married couple Dev and Kalpana Kartik, in only their fourth film together (they had eloped while working on Taxi Driver).

Vijay Anand then brought all three brothers together for Kala Bazar (1960). He was inspired by the touts dealing in tickets outside cinemas for the lead character of his film. Like his brother Chetan before him, Vijay succeeded in including the city of Bombay as a character in his film.

Dev's Raghuvir changes his ways for the love of a good woman, Alka, played by Waheeda Rehman. Kala Bazar (1960) featured the grand premiere of Mother India (1957) with stars Nargis, Dilip Kumar, Sohrab Modi, Raaj Kumar and Rajendra Kumar making a cameo appearance in the film.

Vijay Anand was also rumoured to have ghost-directed the evergreen Hum Dono (1961), which he also wrote. Dev Anand played a double role as Major Verma, who goes missing in action during World War II, and his lookalike Mahesh, who is given the task of delivering the news to the major's family.

Their next film was among the handful that Nutan and Dev starred in together — the romantic comedy Tere Ghar Ke Samne (1963). The film is remembered for its crackling chemistry between the two as a modern young couple who want to convince their rival fathers of their love for each other.

As time progressed, Vijay Anand's films also became known for their song sequences. They furthered the story and also stood alone as stellar examples of visualization of lyrics and music. In Tere Ghar Ke Samne, 'Dil Ka Bhanwar' sung by Mohammad Rafi and composed by SD Burman was filmed inside a replica of the Qutub Minar as the pair climb down a winding staircase while in the title song, a duet by Rafi and Lata Mangeshkar, Dev Anand imagines Nutan in a whiskey glass.

Dev Anand won his second Filmfare award for Best Actor for Guide (1965). It is widely regarded as one of his best performances on screen as Raju the guide and Vijay was hailed for adapting a difficult book to screen. It veered off the essence of RK Narayan's novel, but the acting of its leads, including Waheeda Rehman, and SD Burman's songs like 'Aaj Phir Jeene Ki Tamanna' and 'Gata Rahe Mera Dil' remain hummable today.

Guide picked up the top four honours at the Filmfare awards and Vijay picked up his first major Best Director award.

Following the critical and international success of Guide, the brothers made the spy thriller Jewel Thief (1967) in which Dev plays the ordinary Vinay who is mistaken for the jewel thief Amar. Again, Vijay wrote the screenplay and took the usual tropes of amnesia and lookalikes and heightened them using his charismatic brother's screen presence.

Once again, the songs in a Vijay-Dev feature were the highlight, especially the tense song before the film's big finale, 'Honthon Pe Aisi Baat'.

The highs of Jewel Thief led to a lesser known film, Kahin Aur Chal (1968), which had all the equations of a hit film, stars Dev and Asha Parekh, music composers Shankar-Jaikishan and the direction of Vijay. However, the financier and Vijay never saw eye to eye and Kahin Aur Chal faded away from memory.

Meanwhile, Dev made his own directorial debut in 1970 with Prem Pujari, which wasn't a great success but taught him enough to make sure his next, Hare Rama Hare Krishna (1971), was. Vijay and Dev resurfaced with Johny Mera Naam (1970), a story of brothers Sohan and Mohan separated in childhood. Made under the Trimurti Films banner of Gulshan Rai, the film saw Dev play a detective who goes undercover while Pran played the misguided brother Mohan. At 47, Dev romanced the much younger Hema Malini effortlessly. Vijay was recognised with Filmfare awards for Best Editing and Best Screenplay the next year.

For their next collaboration, Tere Mere Sapne (1971), Vijay adapted the 1937 AJ Cronin novel, The Citadel, and made it relevant to the decade the film was set in. In this sincere take on the plight of the medical community, Dev transformed himself from a simple country doctor to one who only cares about the money.

SD Burman continued his long association with Navketan Films and scored hits like 'Ye Maine Kasam Li' (for which Vijay provided the lyrics) and 'Jeevan Ki Bagiya Mehkegi'.

By now, however, Dev and Vijay's partnership had diminished as Dev went on to star in other directors' films and also continued with his own directorial productions. Chhupa Rustam (1973) was another complete Vijay feature. Besides direction, he produced, contributed to the film's lyrics, wrote the screenplay and even acted as Jimmy Fernandes. Once again, Dev was paired with Hema Malini in this story where he takes on many avatars.

After Chhupa Rustam came the film Bullet (1976). Largely made to celebrate the silver jubilee of Navketan, this James Hadley Chase adaptation of Just Another Sucker had Dev playing a character after his own name, Dharam Dev. Bullet also featured actors Kabir Bedi and Parveen Babi and was the film debut of actress Jyoti Bakshi.

Bullet became the last film Dev and Vijay worked on together as actor and director. Another ambitious production, Ek Do Teen Chaar (1980), was never released. The film was cast with some of the biggest stars of the time — Dharmendra, Shashi Kapoor, Rakhee, Hema Malini, Rishi Kapoor, Tina Munim and Dev Anand, of course.

In his memoir Romancing With Life, Dev Anand wrote, “Together, we became an unbeatable team of writer-director and star, the cause of great envy for the rest of the film industry.” The films the two of them made were celebrated for taking Indian cinema to new heights internationally and, within India, creating stories and settings that resonated strongly with audiences.