Article Hindi

13 iconic roles of the evergreen Dev Anand


On the star's 94th birth anniversary, a look at some of his most notable roles from the down-on-his-luck Madan in Baazi (1951) to the protective older brother in Hare Rama Hare Krishna (1971).

Sonal Pandya

There is no doubt that Dev Anand was one hard-working actor-filmmaker. From his debut in PL Santoshi’s Hum Ek Hain (1946) and his breakout success with Ziddi (1948), he acted steadily for 65 years until his last film, Chargesheet (2011), just a few months before his death on 3 December 2011.

With his own production company, Navketan, launched in 1949, Dev Anand, along with brothers Chetan and Vijay, made significant films that have stood the test of time. Dev himself created nuanced characters from the romantic Rakesh in Tere Ghar Ke Samne (1963) to the flawed Raju in Guide (1965).

His desire to play leading man never ebbed, even as his contemporaries took on father-figure roles. The actors and actresses in his productions grew younger and younger, but the actor stayed as he was, the evergreen hero. However, the roles he took on at the height of his career remain eternal no matter what the era.

Here are some of Dev Anand’s iconic roles.

1. Baazi (1951)

The directorial debut of Guru Dutt, Baazi (1951) was an early hit for Navketan and highly influenced by Hollywood film noir. Starring Dev Anand, Geeta Bali and Kalpana Kartik, the film was written by Balraj Sahni. Dev Anand played Madan, a down-on-his-luck unemployed man who turns to gambling to support his sister. He reluctantly accepts a job at the shady Star Hotel and gets way in over his head when he is accused of the murder of Leena (Geeta Bali), a dancer who fancies him. Dev Anand cemented his star status with this film in which he played the anti-hero. Baazi was also the film debut of actress Kalpana Kartik, who married Dev Anand in 1954.

2. Taxi Driver (1954)

Taxi Driver was truly a family product with Chetan Anand directing, his wife Uma writing the story, and younger brother Vijay contributing to the script as well. Of course, Dev Anand and Kalpana Kartik were the leads and were married after the film ended. Dev Anand essayed the role of Mangal aka Hero, an ordinary yet street-smart taxi driver in Bombay. He is part of his passengers’ stories until the day Mala (Kartik) enters his life. Then he goes about redeeming himself to earn her love. Dev Anand excelled at taking on the role of Everyman and making it his own.

3. C.I.D. (1956)

Yet another crime thriller, C.I.D. (1956), directed by Raj Khosla, put Dev Anand on the right side of the law. He played Inspector Shekhar, who follows up on a tip by his friend, Shrivastav, who works at a newspaper. When Shrivastav is killed, Shekhar knows this is no ordinary case. Along the way, Dev Anand, as a determined detective, falls in love with Rekha (Shakila), the daughter of the police chief, and is tempted by a pretty gangster’s moll, Kamini (Waheeda Rehman making her Hindi film debut). C.I.D. balanced romance, music, and suspense in equal measure, largely due to Dev Anand’s effortless acting.

4. Paying Guest (1957)

After acting in numerous dark thrillers, Dev Anand took on the fun and frothy romantic comedy Paying Guest (1957), directed by Subodh Mukerji and written by Nasir Husain. Though Dev Anand was cast opposite the much younger Nutan, the two had a natural chemistry and made a fine pair on screen. In the film, Dev Anand dons the disguise of an old man, amid much hilarity, to rent a room. He falls in love with his landlord’s daughter, the fiery Shanti (Nutan), and wins her over eventually. However, here, too, the lovers manage to get ensconced in a murder mystery, but love prevails in the end.

5. Solva Saal (1958)

In Raj Khosla’s Solva Saal (1958), Dev Anand played a hardened journalist, Pran, who follows an eloping couple, hoping to get a story out of it. When the young man ditches Laaj (Waheeda Rehman) and takes off with her necklace, the two are reluctantly thrown together in pursuit. The result is a charming road movie where Dev Anand and Waheeda Rehman are at their best, playing opposites who grow to love each other. One of the highlights of the film is SD Burman’s ‘Hai Apna Dil To Aawara’, sung by Hemant Kumar (rarely used for Dev Anand) and written by Majrooh Sultanpuri.

6. Kala Pani (1958)

Dev Anand won his first Filmfare award for Best Actor with Raj Khosla’s Kala Pani. The film was completely opposite in tone to the romantic Solva Saal. In this film, Dev Anand played a son out to redeem his father falsely accused of murder. As he sets out to clear his father’s name, he gets involved with two different women, the journalist Asha (Madhubala) and the courtesan Kishori (Nalini Jaywant), the latter a witness in the murder. Dev Anand brings out his character’s inner anguish, allowing the viewer to see all the emotions on his expressive face.

7. Hum Dono (1961)

In a masterful double role, Dev Anand played Captain Anand and Major Manohar Lal Verma in Amarjeet’s Hum Dono (1961). The film had superhit music by Jaidev, but it was Dev Anand who anchored it with his performances as two lookalike men serving in the Indian army. A misunderstanding finds Captain Anand taking the place of Major Verma. Dev Anand, in a script written by younger brother Vijay, created two distinct characters, albeit with the same moral centre. Hum Dono (1961), with leading actresses Nanda and Sadhana, remains a classic in Dev Anand’s career.

8. Tere Ghar Ke Samne (1963)

Six years after they starred together in Paying Guest (1957) and Baarish (1957), Dev Anand and Nutan returned to act in Vijay Anand’s Tere Ghar Ke Samne. The successful romantic comedy, with a hit soundtrack, featured Dev Anand’s character Rakesh as an early precursor to Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (1995) and its leading man Raj, who wants to win over his Simran only with the approval of her family. Rakesh is an architect designing a house for both his father and Sulekha’s father, who, hopefully, will become his father-in-law.

9. Guide (1965)

Dev Anand adapted a number of books for the big screen, the most famous being RK Narayan’s The Guide. Navketan’s Guide (1965) was a landmark film for all involved. Dev Anand, as actor and producer, made sure the film received his all. His character Raju, the guide, is deeply flawed. He falls in love with a married woman Rosie (Waheeda Rehman) and they take off to make a life together. However, when his vices of drinking and gambling drive her away, he sets off on the long road to redemption after going to jail and trying to prove himself to Rosie and his mother.

10. Jewel Thief (1967)

In the suspenseful Jewel Thief (1967), Dev Anand once again played a man impersonating another. Are Vinay and Amar, the jewel thief, one and the same, or are they two different people? The answer lies in Vjiay Anand’s thriller, packed with beautiful actresses (Vyjayanthimala, Tanuja, Helen and Faryal) and memorable music by SD Burman. At this time, it was more than 20 years since he had made his big-screen debut, but Dev Anand continued with his romantic image and indefatigable charm.

11. Johny Mera Naam (1970)

This same year, Dev Anand turned director with Prem Pujari (1970), but he turned in a strong performance as CID officer Sohan who goes undercover to solve his cases. He becomes Johny on his latest case and soon reunites with his long-lost brother Mohan (Pran), now on the other side of the law. Here, Dev Anand romanced another young actress, Hema Malini, acting for the first time opposite him. Vijay Anand’s Johny Mera Naam also showed off Dev Anand’s fashionable side, with jaunty hats, colourful scarfs and jackets, that were to become his trademark in the latter years of his career.

12. Tere Mere Sapne (1971)

In an adaptation of the AJ Cronin novel, The Citadel, Dev Anand played an idealistic doctor who begins Vijay Anand’s Tere Mere Sapne (1971) wanting to give back to society. However, circumstances change him and he begins to practise medicine for money and drifts away emotionally from his wife Nisha (Mumtaz). Once again, it is tragedy that forces his character, Dr Anand Kumar, to rethink his life. Dev Anand managed to shine the brightest when directed by younger brother Vijay, and Tere Mere Sapne (1971) was no exception.

13. Hare Rama Hare Krishna (1971)

Before making films like Des Pardes (1978), Anand Aur Anand (1984) and Awwal Number (1990), Dev Anand was the protective, loving older brother out to locate and save his sister in Hare Rama Hare Krishna (1971). Although the film also starred Mumtaz, it was actress Zeenat Aman who turned heads. Directing Hare Rama Hare Krishna himself, Dev Anand explored issues of emotional abandonment and drug abuse. Even at 48, the star knew how to relate to the younger generation.