Vaibhav on Vijay Anand’s birth anniversary – #BigInterview


Tere mere sapne ab ek rang hai… a promise to walk the talk with his ladylove, the dawn’s virginal gleam swathing Dev Anand and Waheeda Rehman in love…
Hothon pe aisi baat main dabake chali aayee… the camera as adrenalised as a spirited Vyjayanthimala…

O haseena zulfon wali… Shammi Kapoor’s rockstar madness matching the method of the maker…

Pal pal dil ke paas… Raakhee sinking in the reverie of romance…

Jeevan ki bagiya mehke gi… all about love’s fruition has Dev Anand wooing a subdued Mumtaz, soft sarees silhouetting her sensuousness…

That Vijay Anand was a techno wiz was a given. But with his mechanical virtuoso came his poetic insights that lyricised the prose of life on screen. The youngest brother of the famed Chetan Anand and Dev Anand, Vijay Anand was the phenomenon and pride of Navketan Films. Unconstrained by genres as a filmmaker, unencumbered by stereotypes as a person… Vijay Anand was larger than his films. Unwilling to be sequestered by a glitzy world, he remained an eternal seeker… That explains his accepting the ebb and even his imminent farewell with the nonchalance of someone who’d given as much to life as he’d taken…

Son and actor Vaibhav Anand remembers his father and friend in an emotional interview:

An early memory of your father, which suggests that he was a special man…

There are so many such memories. But the most predominant one is of the times I visited Chetan (Anand) uncle’s shack in Juhu. I was dad’s pet and tagged along with him. I recall Dev (Anand) uncle, Kaifi (Azmi) saab, Raj Kumarji… and dad discussing song picturisations, scripts, films… I must have been around 10-12. At that point, I understood that these people were way beyond being just ‘uncles’. They were involved in something special. Also, for me, it was normal to see actors drop in at home or see them come and go in the studio. I was never enamoured by them.

What influenced Vijay Anand’s cinematic abilities?

Dad grew up around the immensely talented Ravi Shankar, Annapurna Devi, Ustad Ali Akbar Khan, Guru Dutt, Geeta Bali… artistes, who visited the Anand home at 41 Pali Hill. Doing theatre in St Xavier’s College honed his skills further. He was a student of Hindi and English literature and an avid reader. He learnt scriptwriting from Chetan uncle. Uma aunty, Chetan uncle’s wife, encouraged him to write as well (Goldie co-wrote the script of Navketan’s ‘Taxi Driver’ in 1954 with Uma Anand).

After ‘Hum Dono’ (1961), he went abroad and binged on Hollywood cinema. He read books by their screenwriters and filmmakers. From them, he grasped the concept of adaptation, which helped him make ‘Guide’ (1965) based on RK Narayan’s ‘The Guide’, ‘Tere Mere Sapne’ (1971) based on AJ Cronin’s novel ‘The Citadel’ and ‘Bullet’ (1976) inspired by James Hadley Chase’s thriller ‘Just Another Sucker’.

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‘Guide’, a masterpiece, compelled author RK Narayan to acknowledge that the film was more beautiful than his book…

‘Guide’ happened to dad at the right time. His knowledge of cinema was at its peak then. His life experiences merged with his skills and flowed into words and emotions. His passion for song picturisation, his command over writing, his spiritual slant along with his knowledge of the Bhagvad Gita, the Vedas, the Upanishads, the Mahabharata… all reflected in his work.

The beginning scene of ‘Guide’, where Raju (Dev Anand) is released from jail, was directed by Chetan uncle. He then moved on to make his pet project ‘Haqeeqat’ (1964). Dad said he’d direct ‘Guide’ on one condition – he’d change the script. He found certain things in the book – like protagonist Rosie’s ease in getting into bed with the guide a bit vulgar. He believed Indian audiences wouldn’t accept that. So, he added layers to Rosie’s character.

Guide was a female-centric subject, which Dev uncle had objection to. Also, he was angry that all the songs were picturised on Waheedaji. So after the film was 80 percent complete, lyricist Shailendra and composer SD Burman along with dad, created the songs Din dhal jaaye and Kya se kya hogaya as a continuation of Mo se chhal kiye jaaye to satisfy Dev uncle.

Vijay Anand presented his heroines both with glamour and grace…

Dad respected his heroines. Nutan (‘Tere Ghar Ke Saame’ 1963), Waheeda Rehman (‘Guide’), Vyjayanthimala (‘Jewel Thief’ 1967), Hema Malini (‘Johny Mera Naam ‘1970) and Mumtaz (‘Tere Mere Sapne’)… he was aware of their versatility. He never worked with anyone mediocre. That’s why perhaps he had a problem working later on. Waheedaji shared a comfort level with the Anands having done the maximum films with Dev uncle. Even Helen was presented so well in ‘Teesri Manzil’ (1966). On one hand you’re spellbound by her beauty and on the other, her character is woven in the script, someone who takes the bullet for the hero.

On the set of Navketan, every heroine was well looked after. The Anand brothers were well-read, refined and decent. The industry was also a cleaner place then. When Dev uncle walked out of ‘Teesri Manzil’, Shammiji (Kapoor) asked him if he could step in. There was camaraderie and courtesy between the actors. Yes, there was rivalry – but a healthy one. No backbiting, no taane baazi!

Something about Vijay Anand’s legendary song picturisations…

Dad had a sense of melody, given the influences of Guru Dutt, Raj Khosla, SD Burman, Ravi Shankar… He enjoyed Hollywood songs too. His song picturisations were about emotions and expressions. They took the story further. They were not inserted as a ‘break’. Dad didn’t believe in unnecessary cuts. So, the song Tere mere sapne (‘Guide’) was completed in just four shots, capturing the pre-dawn light. There was a vigour in Hothon pe aisi baat (‘Jewel Thief’). To keep up the momentum of the mood, he incorporated very few cuts. Four cameras and a trolley camera were put up to capture the dance. The ‘Teesri Manzil’ songs O mere sona, Aaja Aaja… are remembered for their energy. Just as Helen was phenomenal in the Baithe hai kya uske paas song in ‘Jewel Thief’.


‘Tere Mere Sapne’, though not a commercial success, was Vijay Anand’s favourite film…

The film was inspired by the novel ‘Citadel’, gifted to him by composer Amit Khanna. Mumtaz, who was at her glamorous peak, was given a simple look. But she’s never appeared more gorgeous. Generally, directors cashed in on her sexiness. But here, her essence as a woman was brought out. Dad had first met Jaya Bhaduri for the role. But it didn’t go through as she looked too young and there was a huge age gap between Dev uncle and her.

The bicycle scenes involving the lead pair are adapted from Hollywood films. The film spotlighted the flipside of the medical profession. Incidentally, dad’s kidney operation during the shoot of ‘Hum Dono’ had gone wrong. He was treated for the wrong kidney and was bedridden for a year. His friend Amarjeet nursed him devotedly. As a gesture of gratitude, dad gave him ‘Hum Dono’ to direct. But he goofed up. So, dad directed the film, but gave Amarjeet the credit. He believed in honouring his promise.


It’s said that Dev Anand didn’t take lightly to Goldie’s criticism of his films…

Yes, Dev saab didn’t like dad’s frank opinions. In fact, he didn’t like anybody’s opinion. Initially, Dev uncle could accept Chetan uncle’s viewpoints as he was way older to him – by 10 years. But when Dev uncle became a star, ego crept in. He couldn’t take too many lessons. So, they went their professional ways amicably.

There was a time when Dev uncle would ask dad, who was 10 years younger to him, for inputs. But after ‘Hare Rama Hare Krishna’ (1971) he stopped seeking them. On seeing Dev uncle’s later films dad would remark, ‘What have you made?’. Dev uncle couldn’t take criticism. Even during his last film, ‘Jaana Na Dil Se Door’, (2001), dad exercised tremendous control over it. Because he knew his job. And Dev saab respected that. But ego would crop up sometimes and they had to balance things. Having said that, personally, the brothers remained extremely close. There were no two ways about it. They made it a point to meet each other once or twice a week.


You assisted your father during ‘Jaana Na Dil Se Door’. What did you learn from him?

Frankly, I didn’t learn anything. It took a long time to complete the film. It had newcomers along with Dev uncle. But the times demanded a young star to sell the film. So, dad found it hard to release it. He went through a lot of pain and financial problems.

Moreover, dad didn’t want me to follow him ever. Once I was watching ‘Jewel Thief’ when dad said, ‘Don’t watch my films! Or subconsciously, you will imitate me and become someone who’s not you. Find your own path. Cinema is in your blood and you will manifest it at the right time. If you grow under someone’s shadow, you won’t grow at all.’ Dad’s films have made a huge mark. As an actor and director, I have yet to start as an actor with Aarti Bagdi’s film ‘Chalti Rahe Zindagi’. My experiences are of today, his belonged to ‘yesterday’. So, there can be no similarities.

It’s said the changing scenario left him frustrated as a filmmaker.

During the later years, dad went off track. He had a love for acting, right from the time he did Chetan Anand’s ‘Agra Road’ (1957). So, in his later years, he began focusing on himself as an actor and less as a director. That clearly didn’t work. He was not happy with the roles he got. So, he started making films for himself, which didn’t work either. When he got back to direction with ‘Ram Balram’ (1980) and ‘Rajput’ (1982), the long hours of shooting, the excessive gap between shoots, frustrated him. They were colossal projects. He was still the star director but the star system, the waiting, made him impatient. He once remarked, ‘I’ve achieved as much as I could possibly achieve. What more can I do?’

His liberal views on sex in Indian cinema brought his stint as Censor Board chief to an abrupt end…

The then Information and Broadcasting Minister, Sushma Swarajji was a tough and remarkable lady, a forward thinking one. She agreed with dad on many issues but the then Government didn’t. His argument was, ‘Why are we afraid of sex? Nudity is not a crime. See the aesthetics of Khajuraho.’ Dad was way ahead of his times.


Something on his spiritual trysts with Osho Rajneesh and later UG Krishnamurthy…

Dad was always inclined towards spirituality. Even after he achieved fame, there was always the question – what have I actually accomplished by all this? Initially, dad was fascinated by Rajneesh. Something about Rajneesh resonated in him. Dad was going through issues with his family. He wanted to marry my mom (Vijay Anand married Sushma in 1978). Rajneesh said ‘go ahead’ and brought some stability in his personal life.

But gradually, dad realised there was something amiss about Rajneesh. He didn’t seem to be Bhagwan. Dad had certain questions for which Rajneesh had no answers. He got further disappointed with Rajneesh when he asked dad to make a film on him. Dad said, ‘Goodbye, thank you and f*** off!’ He realised the man was no longer spiritual. He’d turned materialistic. He wrote a letter to him saying this was not what he’d come to him for and left the ashram the next day.

Later, he came in touch with UG Krishnamurthy and stuck with him till the end. UG was not a guru. He was more like a friend and a philosopher. He was a man, who dad believed was enlightened. UG was like a migratory bird. He’d live with us in Mumbai during the winters between November-January. Between February-April, he’d stay in Bangalore. Later, he’d fly to Gstaad in Switzerland. Dad would accompany him there. I’d also go along.


How would you define your relationship with your father?

My father was not my hero. I was attached to him as a friend, whom I could confide in. He was liberal and allowed me to be me. That’s a rare thing between a father and son. He never imposed anything on me. He knew only if he gave me the leeway would I evolve. He didn’t tighten the grip. He was the youngest of the 12 siblings but they all trusted him. Whether they followed it or not but he always had the right advice.

Apparently, he was a sad man during the last days of his life…

Yes, he was a sad man towards the end. There were several emotions stirring within him. About the past, about not being able to manage his production house, about having perhaps retired at the wrong time, the age gap between us son and father… He had knowledge about astrology. So, somewhere he knew it was time to go. Also, UG Krishnamurthy had told some friends, ‘It won’t be very long for Goldie’. This was in December 2003. Dad passed away on 23 February, 2004.

Nevertheless, dad saw something in me. He was satisfied and believed ‘the boy will be able to look after himself’. When I was growing up, we had some differences. But when he visited me in New York, where I was studying acting and filmmaking, we bonded. From father-son, ours became a man-to-man relationship. The father became a friend. It was unfortunate that we hardly got time together after that. When I needed him the most… he went away.

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