Romance has been an inseparable element of Dev Anand’s works. He was always young, always, as he flirted, dated, fell in love and then married ladies half his age in movies that were ahead of their times. He never compromised on quality in terms of music and locations. His unit accompanied him on some of the most exotic locales around the world. Mountains he loved the most and a majority of his films showcased his obsession with mountains.
Dev Saab was never tired of confessing his “affinity” with the mountains. From the black and white era to the colour transition, he picked some great locations in the hills, the iconic “Tere Mere Sapne” from “Guide”, a timeless tribute to his judgment; judgment of identifying the locations best suited to the situations, so intrinsically intertwined with the narration. He was an unmatched craftsman in conceptualization of songs with younger brother Vijay Anand a compelling influence, when it came to situational masterpieces.
Dev Saab reflects on his love for mountains abundantly in his autobiography, his meeting with Tenzing Norgay and his subsequent passion to shoot in the mountains. Like he said, “My spirit belonged there!” His cinema always mirrored his spirited character, the commitment to make cinema for the young. He loved to be in the company of the young people and it was this zeal towards living a vibrant life that drove him into planning a movie like “Ishq, Ishq Ishq”. That it sank was one of the biggest disappointing phases of his career.
Look at Dev Saab’s eye for details. He surveyed the location from a helicopter in Nepal. It also involved the thrilling experience of trekking and sleeping in tents. A perfectionist to the core, Dev Saab identified Shyangboche, with hardly any habitation. He claims, “If you ever happen to see ‘Ishq, Ishq, Ishq’, look out for that shot of Mount Everest with a sweetheart of a cloud spinning around it, a very rare sight indeed!”
The cast of the movie personified the spirit that he talked of. Zeenat Aman, Shabana Azmi and Zarina Wahab are the livewire support to his story, a musical that rides on the melodious Rahul Dev Burman’s genius. The music captures the mood of the movie brilliantly with the background score a standout feature. The cast was judiciously finalised with Shekhar Kapur and Zarina making their debut as actors.
The story revolves around Dhun (Dev Anand), an affluent traveller out to explore the world. He lands up at an inn called Six Sisters with Pahar (Prem Nath) as the delightful owner. Dhun falls in love with Pooja. At the cusp of their wedding, they discover Dhun is Pooja’s maternal uncle. The matter is resolved with a pleasant discovery concerning Dhun. There are no stirring performances with the exception of a cute Padmini Kolhapure and a superb cameo by Nadira. The winner, by miles, is Rahul Dev Burman with his compositions that capture the essence of the movie impeccably.
The musical journey, with accordion, guitar and mouth organ producing an enchanting begins with “Tim tim chamka jhil mil tara”. As he takes leave of the kids at a school in Kalimpong the sombre mood is captured by “Achhe bachche nahi rote hain”. And then Dhun makes his presence felt with “Mujhko agar ijazat ho to” and “Wallah kya nazara hai” at the Six Sisters Inn. The beautifully shot “Chal saathi chal, bheegi bheegi aankhen” and “Ishq, ishq, ishq, ishq zamane mein jo karte hain” complete the journey.
Sadly, the expensively shot movie, with a 100-plus unit showing a fantastic adventurous streak to capture some stunning shots, turned out to be Dev Saab’s “biggest disaster” at the box office. He did recover to make more films but “Ishq, Ishq, Ishq” was a scar that refused to fade away. To a generation, it represents the wonderful visage of romance and music coming together to conjure an undying charm on the screen. The title song is a timeless acceptance of this feature.