Dev Anand was hardly done with ‘‘contribution to Indian cinema’’ when the award came. The 80-year-old actor-director was working on the script of his latest project when the phone rang and the voice at the other end informed him that he had won the prestigious Dadasaheb Phalke Award.
The caller was Information and Broadcasting Minister Ravi Shanker Prasad. ‘‘All these years, I have never sulked about not getting the award.
But when I finally have, I’m not jumping with joy. It’s a good feeling, of course. It means recognition by so many people for work I have put in through so many years,’’ says the Hindi film legend.
Dev Anand, the 34th recipient of the award, is in the 56th year of his movie career. His company, Navketan, which produced his best-known films including Taxi Driver, CID, Kala Pani, Guide and Jewel Thief, is 52 years old. Despite producing several commercial flops in recent years, the actor still shows no signs of slowing down.
His lifestyle, as he describes it, appears frenetic. When The Indian Express spoke to him, Dev Anand had just checked into a Mahabaleshwar hotel after driving down from Pune where he had attended an award function and a media conference.
‘‘I’m in Mahabaleshwar where I am polishing the script of my latest film Beauty Queen…I’m looking for the most stunning fresh face as the heroine. As I was sitting here, the Information and Broadcasting Minister called up to congratulate me,’’ he said.
His admirers, many of whom are within the film industry, attribute his popularity and appeal to this very unstoppable quality. ‘‘He’s too young to win the award,’’ says Jackie Shroff, admittedly a die-hard fan, who got his first walk-on part in a Dev Anand-starrer, Swami Dada. ‘‘I used to even dress up like him,’’ says Shroff.
Born on September 26, 1923 in Gurdaspur as Devdutt Pishorimal Anand, Dev Anand graduated in arts from Punjab University and came to Mumbai to join elder brother Chetan Anand who was already into films.
He began working at Prabhat Theatres where he met Guru Dutt, who became a life-long friend and associate. His first film was Hum Ek Hain. Together with Raj Kapoor and Dilip Kumar, he then went on to form the triumvirate that dominated Hindi cinema through the 50s and 60s.