(This rare interview with DEV ANAND by JYOTHI VENKATESH was taken three decades ago)
Instead of releasing PYAR KA TARANA when it was completed, why did you launch yet another film called GANGSTER?
You see after seeing your final print, you are at times not completely and creatively satisfied. From writing to the final corrections to editing, cutting, mixing somewhere you feel that you could have improved. Because once mixing is done, you just cannot do anything creatively. So I start another film instead of sitting idle till the film is released.
Read on…. Incidentally it is the Birth Centenary of the evergreen heart throb Dev Anand on 26th September. Jyothi Venkatesh interviews Dev Anand prior to the release of his film Pyar Ka Tarana (1993)
Why was PYAR KA TARANA delayed?
I concede wasting time for a regular producer or production unit is bad. PYAR KA TARANA was delayed because of five to six months of riots in Bombay. It was something beyond my control. I couldn’t help it.
Did the Censor Board maul PYAR KA TARANA badly?
Scandinavia is an open country. One can see anything sitting in one’s bedroom today even in India thanks to the proliferation of the satellite networks from abroad. Who has given the Censor Board guys the sanction to be the conscience keepers of the nation? They have cut some portions of my film in which the local girls in Scandinavia are shown topless even though I have eschewed vulgarity.
Why do you not work for outside producers these days? Is it because the offers have stopped coming your way?
As an actor, ab maza nahi aata hai. Aaj kal scripts are never ready and money arrangements are not good. If some worthwhile offer comes my way, I do not rule out the possibility of my taking up an acting assignment. I acted in LASHKAR because I knew the producers Jagdish and Kadar Kashmiri then. Though I am acting in the AMAN KE FARISHTEY, the film has been plodding on for the past five years and I do not know when it will see the light of the day.
Looking back at your illustrious career as an actor and filmmaker, how do you assess yourself in these last five decades?
Look here. I have grown in films. I am still a child of cinema. I enjoy what I do. Others think in terms of dus lagaya magar bees nikala. I cannot think of any profession other than films. How can I get out of it? I cannot sell meat or potatoes. Can I? By and large, I work in my own pictures. I do not seek roles as an actor or films as a director outside. I do not have the time to look back. I am concerned about what I am doing as an actor in my current pictures, whether the critics or for that matter, the audiences accept it or not, because their norms of judgment are quite different from mine.
What do you think of the audience?
Unpredictability is the name of the audience. A wave of raves comes all of a sudden. I am used to what people say. I take it philosophically. I think I have mellowed down. Temperamentally today I am the same as I was 40 years ago. Over the years I have slowed down my pace. In my entire career as an actor, I think I must have acted in only around 120 films. In the last 20 years, I did very few films either as an actor or as a filmmaker. If I wanted to, I could have owned the entire city of Bombay by signing on films left right and centre indiscriminately.
What do you have to say to the criticism that you are a non actor?
It is after all very easy to destroy something which has taken years to build but very difficult to construct. The so-called criticism is after all just a one man’s point of view. As long as my fans continue to look forward to a film of mine and ask me why I am not acting in my own films, why should I pay cognizance to such hollow criticism?
In spite of you having given him two opportunities, your son Suneil Anand could not click as an actor. ANAND AUR ANAND was a flop while MAIN TERE LIYE saw the light of the day after a long time. Will you give him one more opportunity?
As his father, I owe him one more chance. Suneil is now keen on taking up direction. I will help him make his own film and try his luck. He has already written a script for a film called MASTER which deals with martial arts. I have warned Suneil that he should have a good team with him to help him in the making of his film, not just a group of yes men but knowledgeable people. I intend to listen to the subject once before I okay it and then leave him to do his job the way he deems it okay. I will not interfere with what he is doing as a filmmaker. Let him learn what film making is all about by his own trial and error method. It will stand him in good stead.
Did you have to struggle to get your first break with HUM EK HAIN?
For two years, I had struggled in Bombay. I survived because I had strong will power and steely nerves. Do you know that at my time I was living in chawls in Bombay, commuting by trains and buses, hopping in and out of trams doing odd jobs in the military census for a monthly salary of Rs 150 which was considered princely in those days before World war II? The World war ended in 1945. I was staying in this very same place as a paying guest of an elderly aunt in a wooden structure (points out to a skyscraper nearby where the wooden structure used to remain at one time)
What do you think about the challenges posed by satellite and cable?
As a filmmaker, you have got no other alternative but to accept it gracefully with all its challenges. Yes. It can be detrimental because it cuts into your revenues as a producer but do not forget that it also increases your audience manifold. In the long run, any film will make more money even if it loses in the initial stages. If your film has a universal appeal, you can recover your cost from the cable and satellite and yet make quality films which have a worldwide standard. There is no doubt about this.
What has the film industry taught you?
It has taught me what I am today. It has given me hell of a lot of experience, not only as an actor, but also as a writer and director. There are no set rules, canons of how it functions because it is very unpredictable as far as the box office is concerned. Today with four or five decades of experience behind me, I am a wiser man. I am very much in the know of what is happening. Making a film, conceiving it, mounting it, introducing new and bright people with it, distributing it, selling it etc is a mountain of work which keeps me involved almost 15 hours a day both mentally as well as physically. I’d love to die with my boots.
(That’s Dev Anand for you, agile and ticking even when he was 70).