Dev Anand came alive when his death was announced. Print and digital media and social networking websites were all agog with news in his memory. Papers carried front page news of the demise of the evergreen hero. For several decades now, Dev Anand had been living without much recognition. Though he continued to meaningfully contribute to Indian cinema by making a film here and there, it was nothing that people took much note of. His death turned him into the overnight evergreen popular star that he once was in the 60s and 70s.
However, all the media attention that Dev Anand's death received was frowned upon by Press council chairman Justice Katju. The point made by Justice Katju is reasonable. When there are pressing socio-economic issues, when over 2.5 lakh farmers have committed suicide since independence, when the matter of corruption has brought the entire country international shame and business and corporate sentiments are very low, should we be showcasing Bollywood in prime space?
Earlier, former Infosys chairman Narayan Murthy had raised concern that front page news in India was so depressing and negative that it is harmful to inculcate the old age habit of reading the paper first thing in the morning among students. It is better to go straight to the sports page which talks about man's achievements rather than read the first page that talk of man's failure.
Notwithstanding the controversy of whether or not his demise should be given so much prominence, Dev Anand, brought about much pioneering on the silver screen in his prime. The famous character of 'Raju' in Guide where he played the role of a man involved in an extramarital relationship who later turns to spiritualism and goes onto become a Godman, almost like the preaching of Osho, or the Hippie culture with Zeenat Aman in 'Dum Maro Dum' or the various heroines that he was paired with from abroad. These movies, gave the then closed Indian community a worth of their penny, just to have a 'dekho' at the 'firangi mems'.
The social media naturally went wonky, every other post was a Youtube video from Dev Anand's popular films, be it 'Abhi na Jo Chod ke' from Hum Dono or 'Ek Ghar Banaoonga…Teri ghar ke samne'. If the response that his death received is any indication of his popularity, then he definitely scored. Only weeks ago, the music industry lost Jagjit Singh followed by Bhupen Hazarika and though both these deaths were well reported with radios stations playing Jagjit Singh ghazals all day long, the response to Dev Anand's demise was far more spontaneous and unanimous.
His inimitable style, his charming good looks, his convincing belief of the never-say-die attitude for romance on celluloid, all this made for the star whose loss was mourned by pouring out remembrance of him. A man who lived tall and died practicing what he believed in 'Never hang your boots'.
The writer is an entrepreneur and educationist