I phoned Dev Anand in Heaven at midnight to wish him a happy 95th birthday. His secretary was confused which Narendra had called but anyway he got back. “Narennn Kusnoooorr, howw aahh yooo??”
Typical Dev. He thanked me for the birthday greetings and I told him he was the Indian actor with the maximum number of hit songs and his numbers are the A to Z of film music. He was confused. “I haven’t brought my alphabet guide here,” he said.
Before we proceed, I got to connect with him through i-Cloud, created up there by Dev’s friends Steve Jobs of Apple, whatever with actor Shammi Kapoor his research assistant. It’s simple. You just press any button and point it to the skies with a code word. I did DA Guide. I would see everyone on a giant screen, ultra hi-res.
Dev was quick to respond. “You music journalists are looking for stories even almost seven years after I passed away. I am still partying with Raj, Shammi, Kaka Rajesh and Shashi though it’s 7 am today. I rarely drank in my lifetime but now am having Glenheavonovich single malt. Who cares about liver, pancreas and heart today? What do you want, Kusnooor?” he asked.
I told him every song picturised on you on every letter of the English alphabet. He replied, “Haw ha ha hee haa. Fine. But don’t ask me on music directors or films. While on your planet, I was fit till fate decided otherwise. Now I have Paradisical Densopathy Nostalgiographic Anemogonsatis or PDNA. Basically memory loss applicable only in heaven. Today I don’t remember which heroine was my co-starrr – Waheedaaa, Vyjuuuu, Suraiyaaa, Zeeneee, Hemmaaa. Someone told me I was married to Kalpanaah. She was beautiful though I forget her face. PDNA again.”
I asked why most of his hit songs were composed by S.D. Burman in films made by his brother Vijay Anand. He laughed, “Burman Da has never told me. But you journalists know sonething. His son R.D. did some great songs for me. And how can I forget lyricists like Shakeel, Majrooh, Sahir, etceteraaah, etceteraah. Or Lata Deeee or Rafi Jeee or Kishore Daaa. My songs wouldn’t have been what they are without them.”
So we talked and recorded on Cloud HD. Some new Mars-Cloud technology. We started with the letter A.
Me: So what’s your choice for A?
Dev (with that swagger and eyebrow movements): That’s tough, dude. But let me use SkyTube. Aaah, ‘Aankhon Hi Aankhon Mein Ishara Ho Gayaaaa‘, and there was ‘Abhi Na Jao’. My friend here, Kersi Lord, told me he played some rare instrument called glockenspiel which I never knew of on earth. And there was ‘Apni Toh Har Aah Ek Toofan Hai‘ where Waheedaah slept in the upper berth of a train compartment.
Me: Great. Let us go to B…
Dev: Aah I didn’t know I was In the frame of ‘Boojh Tera Kya Naam Re‘. Don’t ask me what film. And some ‘Bhale Bhi Hum‘. You will get details on Google. Now let’s come to C. ‘Chhod Do Aanchal Zamaana Kya Kahega‘. I later made it my life motto. And ”Chal Ri Sajni poh poh paanh..” I looked like a wax statue at Madame Tussauds while Zeenie looked like Goddess Venus.
Me: I think it was Suchitra Sen. Go for D.
Dev: (serious mode) ‘Din Dhal Jaaye Haaye‘. Hey Rafi Jeee come and sing this. (Rafi sings whole song).. And there was ‘Dum Maaro Dum‘. Not sure if Zeeniee played my sistaah or girlfriend. I have a guest for E. It’s my party. You are just an intruder but I love you.
[ A still from ‘Dum Maaro Dum‘ song ]
(Here Shammi Kapoor comes into that giant screen and sings ‘Ehsaan Tera Hoga‘ before we proceed to F where they are served another round of Glenheavenovich and tandoori jannat taara kabab.)
Dev: I know a lot of words starting with the letter F but not sure which of them open songs. There was some ‘Falsafa tum kya jaano‘.
Me: Devsaab it was from the film Duniya.
Dev: Don’t remember acting in such a film. But in G there’s ‘Gaata Rahe Mera Dilll‘. H is ‘Hum Hai Raahi Pyaar Ke‘. And I is ‘Ik Ghar Banaonga Tere Ghar Ke Saamne‘. Who was that heroine who I saw in my wine goblet? I don’t see her in my glass today.”
Me: It was Nutan. But why are you rushing so much? Hope I am not distracting you.
Dev: Nooo nooo nooo Kusnooor. Ha hee haw hey. Just that I am meeting Lizzie ‘Taylor and Katherine Hepburn for lunch. Waiting for my tuxedo to be ironed. We have invited Gregory Peck too but both these ladies think I am 10 times more handsome. Did we stop at J? ‘JIya ho‘. K is for ‘Kiska Rasta Dekhe‘ and ‘Khoya Khoya Chand‘ (can see him walk like the Leaning Tower of Pisa). L is ‘Lost Lost Moon’, some progressive techno version of ‘Khoya Khoya Chand‘ by some DJ Aviicii who I met recently. Aah L is also for Lata Mangeshkar. She’s younger to me but I call her Didi. The whole world calls her that. That song about the moon. ‘Chand Phir Niklaah‘. I forgot the film.”
Me: Paying Guest where you did that memorable on Qutab Minar. I am sorry, I am taking too much of your time and obviously Lizzie and Kathie are more important to you. So quickly run through this. If your bow-tie isn’t in place I can send in the next 10 minutes through Inter stellar Amazonic.”
Dev: Ha hee hoo ha haa. Kusnoooorrr.. ‘Mera Mann Tera Pyaasa‘, ‘Nafrat Karne Waalon Ko‘, ‘Phoolon Ke Rang Se‘, ‘Tere Mere Sapne‘. You music journos can always mention R and S as long you get your homework rightttt. Actually R has to be R.D. and S has to be S.D. No doubt. Can’t think of X as I don’t do X-rated songs like all the young people on your planet. For Y there is ‘Yeh Zindagi Hai Yo Yo‘. That American songwriter who won Nobel can’t write this.”
Me: “Let’s end with Z. I know you are in a hurry.”
Dev: (modesty personified) Kusnooor, I am only A to Y. Oye Kaka Rajeshaa, aake Z vich sunaana, pahji. Rajesh Khanna owns Z, all songs with ‘Zindagi‘. Steve Jobbie, send some cake to Kusnooor and flowers to Lata Mangeshkar on her 89th birthday on Friday through iEarthHeavenMart. You guys enjoy.
Me: Thank you Devsaab. Say hi to Lizzie.
Dev: If Gregory comes, shall take him apart. He doesn’t have my hair puff or swagger. But I shall sing, ‘Deva Ki Tamannah Hai To Lizzieeee Usey Mil Jaaye Yeahhh‘.
Me: Hee ho hee haa haa Dev Anand. Happeeee Birthdayyy (with that crooked walk and not able to afford a tuxedo. Hope Dev Saab sends me one.)