We shared some great moments as competitors, not rivals.
I am just a year senior to Dev Anand. All three of us, Raj, Dev and I, started our careers around the same time in the mid-1940s. I still have fond memories of Dev and I travelling by local train to look for work in various studios. We developed a good rapport within a short period and Dev became a dear family friend, especially of my younger brother, Nasir Khan.
By the late 1940s all of us were able to gain a strong footing in filmdom. Raj and I achieved stardom with “Shaheed”, “Andaz” and “Barsat”. Dev rose to heights with “Ziddi” and “Baazi”. We shared a decent professional rapport and a mutual set of unspoken ethics right from the beginning. Though nothing was put into words, we shared a silent regard for each other. There were frequent meetings between us when we would discuss and analyse each of our works. We had humorous moments also when Raj would imitate me and Dev immaculately. They were such beautiful moments as we were competitors, not rivals.
Dev's plus point was that he was very cooperative with every co-star and technician. He had devastating looks and a smile which till date no other actor has. Whenever he received the right script and an imaginative director, he gave superb performances as in “Kala Pani”, “Asli Naqli” and “Guide”. Among us, he was the best in performing romantic scenes.
I had the good fortune of sharing space on screen with Dev Anand in Gemini's “Insaniyat” in 1955. Directed by the respected S.S. Vasan, it was a costume drama. So generous was Dev that he cancelled dates of his own production shooting to accommodate dates with me. I personally saw how he helped junior artists by giving them take after take so that they could prove their worth. He never neglected anyone.
We made it a point to attend each other's family functions. I attended his sister's marriage in the mid- 1950s and daughter Devina's marriage in 1985. Dev was present with wife Mona throughout my marriage function with Saira Banu in 1966 and also other events at our Pali Hill residence. We met like family members and never did our profession come into our relations.
Perhaps the most important visit, I, Raj and Dev did was to see Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, then India's Prime Minister, prior to his demise. We discussed many issues together. Just as I addressed him as Dev, he addressed me as Lale. I am shocked and grief struck to learn about his sad demise in London suddenly. My 89 birthday will be my saddest one as I will miss my dear Dev who I am sure would come, hug and greet me saying, “Lale, Tu Hazar Saal Jiyega.” Dev, Kahan Chale Gaye Mujhe Chod Ke.