DEV LOVED, RESPECTED AND EVEN CRIED WITH AND FOR HIS FANS
By Ali Peter John
I had the privilege of being asked by the Mangeshkar family to invite Amitabh Bachchan as a chief guest and to present Lata Mangeshkar with the prestigious Hridayesh Award named after her younger brother, Pandit Hridaynath Mangeshkar and Amitabh didn’t even ask one question before he gladly agreed and only asked him to remind him about the function on the morning it was to happen. The day dawned, evening came and it was time for Amitabh to arrive at the Shanmukhananda Auditorium and I knew for sure that he would not come late even though he had to come all the way from film city, where he was shooting all day. I stood waiting for him at the entrance and he was there 10 minutes before 6:30 p.m. , the time fixed for the function to start. I was too excited even though I was receiving him add a function for the umpteenth time. I rushed towards him to welcome him, but before I could reach him, he made a sign asking me to stop as his security guards in black tried to surround me and he murmured,“take care Ali, they may harm you”. It was the first time I got scared meeting Amitabh. I had many other occasions to face similar situations with stars, big and small, here and nowhere for whom having a wall of security guards had become a prestige issue and a way of life and every time this happened, I don’t know why I always remembered my all-time favorite human being who was a living legend and more, Dev Anand….
I had spent some of the best years of my life with him and in accompanying him to several places in and around India (he also wanted me to be with him during his various trips abroad, but I had my own reasons not to go with him, the main reason being that I never even applied for a passport after the Passport Office in Bombay created a ruckus about my name).
It was during my days with Dev (as he loved calling himself and loved others calling him the same, even though very few could call him Dev and everyone, even the young ended up calling him Dev Sahab, which became like his real name).
Dev Saheb had his own ways of treating his legions of fans. He never gave any reason to any of his fans to have a grouse against him. Even when he had his office in Khira Nagar in Santacruz, he had issued standing instructions to all his staff to see that no one who came to meet him as a fan was stopped and was allowed to walk up to his cabin which was at the other end of the floor on which all the navketan offices were. He made everyone feel comfortable in his presence and gave them all a patient hearing and let them leave with huge sighs of joy and relief, because they couldn’t believe that it would be so easy to meet and talk to Dev Anand, one of the three major legends of Hindi cinema, Dilip Kumar and Raj Kapoor being the other two.
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