It was as if Peter Pan had died. Dev Anand, that stubbornly optimistic thief of time, took away a large chunk of our belief in immortality with him. Here was a man who had willed time to stop, tearing out the hands of the universal clock to silence its ticking, at least in his own ears. When I first heard of his death, the final scene from an old American film, the name of which I can no longer remember, flashed through my mind. An ageing blonde movie star, who sits in a darkened room all day watching her old black-and-white films, gets up from the sofa, walks up to the screen showing flickering images of her younger self, and walks right into it, passing through to the celluloid heaven on the other side, where she will forever be young and beautiful and eternally wooed by her screen lovers who, too, would never age.
When I dropped by one evening some months ago to see Dev Anand in his temporary office in Khar, he was barely visible behind the mountain of files and papers and film posters on his desk. He was getting ready to release two films—the ‘colourised’ version of his classic Hum Dono (his last black-and-white film) and his latest film, Chargesheet. Not one to let time—with a capital T—get the better of him, he was doing two things simultaneously: yanking the nearly fifty-two-year-old film into the present, as well as making a new one that’s spun out of the headlines of the moment.