DEV ANAND 1923-2011

Before a storm of affectionate eulogies was generated by the news of his death, it would be fair to say that coverage of Dev Anand was dominated by two sorts of notations. One concerned the great cinema that he had produced in the past and the other concerned the superficial cinema that he had been compulsively churning out in recent times, populated with ever-younger and ever-more untalented actresses. To take fair note of a man, giving credit where credit is due and slamming where slamming is deserved, is rarely done in an obituary but that doesn't make this any less worthwhile.

For a young man to have migrated to Mumbai from Lahore in the turbulent 1940s, for him to have become not only a matinee idol of historical repute but also to have founded an admirable studio by the 1950s, for him to have kept refusing retirement as all his peers kept retiring, to have kept turning up at the sets into his 80s, these were magnificent, even Sisyphean feats. It hadn't even been all fame and glory in his heydays. Guide had been neither a popular hit nor a critical favourite—slammed for everything from being a gross adaptation of a great novel to acting as a reactionary sop in a modernising nation. The superstar rode the critics out then and ignored them in more recent times. The audience would be his true benefactor, humming the classic songs and forgiving the newer releases. But let's not go overboard with cheering these superficial releases just because an ageing man was making them. Think

Clint Eastwood's re-inventions. Remember Satyajit Ray screening Agantuk a year before his death.

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