On the eve of Dev Anand’s birth centenary (September 26), The Federal looks back at 10 of the iconic star’s most notable films
September 26 marks the birth centenary of the legendary Bollywood star and debonair Dev Anand (1923-2011), who ruled the silver screen for nearly 65 years — from his debut in Hum Ek Hain (1946) to his swan song, Chargesheet (2011). The Federal looks back at 10 of the iconic star’s most notable films:
1. Ziddi (1948): Directed by Shaheed Latif, Ziddi (The Stubborn) was based on a story written by popular Urdu writer Ismat Chughtai. His debut film, it marked a significant milestone in Dev Anand’s career. The film revolves around the story of a defiant young man, played by Dev Anand, who refuses to bow down to social norms and authority. His spirited performance and charismatic screen presence made Ziddi a massive success and established Dev Anand as a rising star in Indian cinema. The film’s timeless songs, composed by Khemchand Prakash, include Marne ki duaen kyon mangun, a solo (the first film song sung by Kishore Kumar), picturised on Dev Anand, and Lata Mangeshkar’s solo, Chanda Re Ja Re Ja, Piya Se Sandesa Mora Kahiyo Ja, picturised on Kamini Kaushal.
2. Baazi (1951): The second film of Dev Anand’s production house Navketan Films, Baazi (The Gamble) holds a special place in the history of Indian cinema. This crime thriller marked Dev Anand’s debut as a leading man and established him as a star to watch. Dev Anand played the role of a charming but morally ambiguous hero (it was the first film in which he came up with his unique style of rapid-fire), which was a departure from the typical portrayals of that era. The film’s gripping narrative, Geeta Bali as the transgressing sultry siren, memorable music by S.D. Burman, and Guru Dutt’s directorial finesse combined to create a noir-like atmosphere that set the tone for a new genre called Bombay Noir in Hindi cinema; its success encouraged and defined the later noir films of 1950s and 1960s. Partly inspired by the 1946 movie Gilda, it was a tribute to the Forties’ Film noir Hollywood. It set the cash registers ringing at the box-office, becoming the second highest grossing film of 1951 after Raj Kapoor’s Awaara.
3. Jaal (1952): A noir classic directed by Guru Dutt (its grey shade characters were among the first of its type in Indian cinema), Jaal (The Trap) saw Dev Anand in lead role with Geeta Bali. A crime thriller, it is the story of a detective (played by Dev Anand), who is tasked with solving a murder mystery. While Jaal may not be as celebrated as some of Guru Dutt’s later works, it showcased his directorial talent and his ability to create suspenseful narratives. It also featured some catchy songs, like the song Yeh Raat Yeh Chandni Phir Kahan…, composed by S.D. Burman, which added to its appeal. The film was successful at box-office, emerging as the third-highest-grossing film of the year in India. One of the first films made in India that portrayed an Anti-Hero character in the lead, Jaal established the idea of Anti-Hero with “no qualms about bending moral codes” in Hindi cinema.
4. Taxi Driver (1954): Directed by Chetan Anand, and starring Dev Anand and Kalpana Kartik in lead roles, this romantic musical film — not to be confused with the famous Martin Scorsese film of the same name, released in 1976 — tells the story of Mangal (played by Dev Anand), a taxi driver who gets embroiled in a complex web of crime and corruption. The film explores themes of social injustice and the struggles of the common man against a corrupt system. It is known for its engaging narrative and memorable songs composed by S.D. Burman, including the evergreen Jayen To Jayen Kahan, penned by Sahir Ludhianvi. Dev Anand’s charismatic performance and the film’s social commentary make Taxi Driver a notable classic in the history of Indian cinema.
5. CID (1956): A crime thriller — one of the best to have come out of Hindi cinema — directed by Raj Khosla and produced by Guru Dutt, it stars Dev Anand, Shakila, Johnny Walker, K. N. Singh and Waheeda Rehman. Dev Anand plays a police inspector named Shekhar, who is assigned to investigate a murder case. As he delves deeper into the mystery, he uncovers a web of deceit, secrets, and intrigue. CID is celebrated for its suspenseful plot, stylish direction, and memorable music by O.P. Nayyar, and the lyrics by Majrooh Sultanpuri and Jan Nisar Akhtar: its hit songs include Leke Pehla Pehla Pyar. Dev Anand’s portrayal of the dashing detective and the film’s noir-inspired elements contributed to its enduring popularity. CID is considered a classic in Indian cinema and remains an important milestone in Dev Anand’s career. It was Waheeda Rehman’s screen debut, and future directors Pramod Chakravorty and Bhappi Sonie worked as assistant directors on this film.
6. Hum Dono (1961): Starring Dev Anand in a double role — alongside Nanda, Sadhana and Leela Chitnis — Hum Dono (Both of Us) is known for its emotional depth and memorable music, composed by the legendary Jaidev. The story revolves around the lives of two identical strangers, Captain Anand and Major Verma, both portrayed by Dev Anand, who are mistaken for each other during World War II. The film explores themes of love, sacrifice, and identity, as it delves into the emotional conflicts faced by the characters. Although Amarjeet is credited as the film’s director, Dev Anand claimed that it was his brother Vijay Anand, who directed the film, based on his own script. Its songs, like Abhi Na Jao Chhod Kar and Main Zindagi Ka Saath Nibhata Chala Gaya, composed by Sahir, continue to captivate audiences even decades after its release. It was later made in Telugu as Ramuni Minchina Ramudu with N. T. Rama Rao. Also, a Bengali movie Uttarayan was made starring Uttam Kumar in the lead based on the novel by Tarashankar Bandopadhyay. Hum Dono’s story is loosely based on Uttarayan. It was relaunched in colour after exactly 50 years on February 4, 2011.
7. Guide (1965): Directed by Vijay Anand and based on R.K. Narayan’s 1958 novel The Guide, it stars Dev Anand and Waheeda Rehman in the lead roles. The film revolves around Raju, played by Dev Anand, a tourist guide who becomes involved with Rosie (Waheeda Rehman), a talented dancer and the repressed wife of a wealthy and rigid archaeologist. It explores themes of love, freedom, and societal constraints as Raju helps Rosie discover her passion for dance and achieve her dreams, leading to conflicts and consequences. Guide is celebrated for its groundbreaking narrative, memorable music by S.D. Burman, and exceptional performances by Dev Anand and Waheeda Rehman. Shailendra’s songs like Aaj Phir Jeene Ki Tamanna Hai and Tere Mere Sapne are classics. Considered one of the finest in Indian cinema and a timeless masterpiece, Guide was India’s official entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 38th Academy Awards, but it was not accepted as a nominee. Time magazine listed it at Number 4 on its list of “Best Bollywood Classics” in 2012.
8. Jewel Thief (1967): Directed by Vijay Anand and starring Dev Anand, Ashok Kumar and Vyjayantimala in the lead roles, this suspenseful film is known for its intriguing plot and memorable music, composed by S.D. Burman. Dev Anand plays the character of Vinay, a man who is mistakenly identified as a notorious jewel thief named Amar. As Vinay attempts to prove his innocence, he becomes entangled in a complex web of deception, leading to a thrilling cat-and-mouse chase between the real thief and the police. Praised for its engaging storyline, stylish direction, and iconic songs like Yeh Dil Na Hota Bechara and Aasman Ke Neeche (Majrooh Sultanpuri). It also features four bond girl-like actresses portrayed by Tanuja, Helen, Faryal and Anju Mahendru, with Nazir Hussain and Sapru appearing in supporting roles.
9. Johny Mera Naam (1970): In this action-packed thriller, directed by Vijay Anand, Dev Anand and Pran play the roles of brothers separated in childhood. Dev Anand plays Johnny, a man who gets entangled in a web of crime and deception as he investigates the murder of his look-alike. The film combines elements of suspense, drama, and romance, making it a compelling watch for audiences of its time and even today. It is known for its engaging plot and hit songs, composed by Kalyanji-Anandji, which include Pal Bhar Ke Liye and O Mere Raja (Indeevar). Hema Malini, Jeevan, Premnath, I. S. Johar, Iftekhar, Padma Khanna also star in key roles. The film was remade in Kannada as Apoorva Sangama, in Telugu as Eduruleni Manishi and in Tamil as Raja.
10. Hare Rama Hare Krishna (1971): Directed and produced by Dev Anand himself, it is a social drama that explores the counterculture and the hippie movement in the 1970s. The story revolves around a young boy named Prashant (Dev Anand), who travels to Kathmandu in search of his estranged sister, Jasbir, who has become a part of the hippie lifestyle and has adopted the name Janice. The film delves into themes of generational conflict, cultural identity, and the impact of Western influences on Indian youth. It is notable for its iconic music by R.D. Burman, with songs like Dum Maro Dum and Phoolon Ka Taron Ka (Anand Bakshi) becoming chartbusters. The film also brought attention to the issue of drug abuse, making it a significant cultural milestone. It remains a classic for its portrayal of the changing social dynamics of its time.
Compiled by Nawaid Anjum