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Goldie commands respect even 10 years after death

As a director, he was severely critical of the malpractices of the national awards jury committee and refused to chair the jury.

Ranjan Das Gupta  Kolkata | 22nd Feb 2014

A still from the film Guide.

he handsome and debonair Dev Anand was not happy that the character he was portraying in the film Guide, would have to die in the end. But his younger brother, Vijay Anand, who was writer, director and editor, was adamant. He admonished Pape (as he addressed Dev Anand) and threatened to stop shooting if he did not listen to him. It was left to cinematographer Fali Mistry to explain to the hero that he could deliver the emotions of a lifetime while dying and that he would appear divine in a saffron garb. In the end, Dev Anand gave one of his best performances ever and the sequence was canned in three takes. Guide created cinematic history in 1966.

No other director understood Dev Anand the actor better than Vijay Anand did. In the 1960s, the duo gave a string of memorable hits such as Kala Bazar, Hum Dono, Tere Ghar Ke Samne, Guide and Jewel Thief. By the early 1970s, Dev Anand was down with a string of flops such as Mahal, Duniya and Prem Pujari. It was at this time that Vijay Anand gave him the super hit Johnny Mera Naam and the critically acclaimed Tere Mere Sapne.

The youngest of four brothers — Manmohan, Chetan and Dev were older to him — Vijay Anand was affectionately called Goldie for his golden hair. He was completing his English Honours from Mumbai's St Xavier's College, when he watched Guru Dutt direct Baazi and assisted Chetan Anand in Aandhiyan. He wrote brilliant plays with college friend Satyadev Dube and earned awards at youth festivals. Literature fascinated him.

When their production company Navketan Films was facing a financial crisis after the flop of Aandhiyan and Humsafar, Vijay Anand, along with his sister-in-law Uma Anand penned Taxi Driver. It was shot on the streets of Mumbai with the camera tied to the back of a taxi and starred Dev Anand, Kalpana Kartik and the debutant Sheila Ramani. Directed by Chetan Anand, it set the box office on fire.

During a tour of Mahabaleshwar in 1956, Vijay Anand narrated to Dev Anand his story Nau Do Gyarah. The latter liked it but was not willing to let him direct the film because of his young age and inexperience. But Vijay Anand insisted. Nau Do Gyarah (1957), featuring Dev Anand and Kalpana Kartik went on to become a big hit and established him as a director of substance.

Vijay Anand was greatly influenced by Vittorio De Sica's neo-realism and the Hollywood of the 1950s-1960s. But he never blatantly copied anyone and set his own standards. He handled emotions, comedy and suspense with equal ease. The filming of the songs in his movies was considered the best after Guru Dutt. He received much praise from V. Shantaram, B.R. Chopra and even Satyajit Ray. S.D. Burman was his musical soul.

Outside Navketan he joined hands with Nasir Hussain in 1966 to direct Teesri Manzil starring Shammi Kapoor, Asha Parekh and Premnath. Such was his rapport with Shammi Kapoor that during Helen's murder sequence, Shammi Kapoor held the knife in one hand and pulled the trolley with his left hand. Vijay Anand shot the scene in one take using three different lights. Teesri Manzil was a box office bonanza. It was critically acclaimed as well and R.D. Burman's music for the film is legend.

Vijay Anand was not a conventional hero like Dev Anand. He scored as an intense parallel actor in Kala Bazar, Hakeekat, Hindustan Ki Kasam, Kora Kagaz and Main Tulsi Tere Aagan Ki. In fact, a sensitive Vijay Anand outclassed Dev Anand as an actor in Tere Mere Sapne. This started a creative conflict between the two brothers. A parting of ways with Dev Anand, a disturbed family life and the gross commercialization of the film industry ruined his creativity. He lost form, focus and commitment towards cinema.

A filmmaker who called a spade a spade, Vijay Anand never entered Hum Dono and Guide for the national awards. He was severely critical of the malpractices of the national awards jury committee and refused to chair the jury. His tryst with television as a director of Param Veer Chakra and actor in Tehkikat showed flashes of his earlier brilliance.

During his ten-month tenure as chairman of the Central Board of Film Certification he suggested the redrafting of the obsolete 1953 Cinematograph Act. Ten years after his early death, the present generation of filmmakers still remember him with respect.

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