The eternal romantic: Mala Sinha on her association with Dev Anand

On the birth centenary year of Dev Anand, Mala Sinha looks back on her first day on the sets with the actor

September 21, 2022 05:17 pm | Updated 05:51 pm IST

Dev Anand and Mala Sinha in ‘Maya’

Dev Anand and Mala Sinha in ‘Maya’ | Photo Credit: The Hindu Archives

When I was first paired opposite Devsaab in Love Marriage in 1959, he was the biggest star in Hindi films. Educated, handsome, flashing a million dollar smile, he was the romantic idol of Indian youth. Above all, Devsaab was never abusive or vulgar; he paired successfully opposite every leading lady of his period.

On the first day of shooting, director Subodh Mukherjee introduced me to Devsaab, who greeted me with a warm handshake. I was pleasantly astonished when he complimented me for my performances in Pyasa and Phir Subha Hogi. During that period, no other hero commanded the popularity he had among female fans.

He respected me and addressed me by my first name. On the sets. he was a thorough professional. Every co-star, technician and spot boy received due attention and cooperation from Devsaab. He never threw starry airs.

As an actor, he was not effortless and versatile like Ashok Kumar, spontaneous and passionate like Raj Kapoor, innovative like Guru Dutt or brilliantly comic like Kishore Kumar. But, Devsaab had his own unique, inimitable style that made his performances special as any leading actor back then.

Mala Sinha in ‘Love Marriage’

Mala Sinha in ‘Love Marriage’ | Photo Credit: The Hindu Archives

His romantic scenes, combined with emotions, innocence, mischief and comedy, made him a cult figure. He also had a special way of performing song sequences. Almost every actor of later generations tried copying his romantic style but none came close could come anywhere near him. We would often speak on many subjects like Bengali culture, literature and social life. Devsaab was a voracious reader and ahead of the times. That distinguished him from other actors in a big way.

He wanted to cast me in Navketan’s Hum Dono, a character that ultimately went to Nanda as I was busy with films like Ujala, Main Nashe Mein Hun and Dharamputra. Today, I have no regrets about missing a classic like Hum Dono as my dear friend, Nanda, did true justice to her role.

We were again paired together in Din Dayal Kashyap’s Maya in 1961. By then, Devsaab was a more mature actor. He always ensured that everyone of his unit was duly paid even though they were not his productions. His friendship with Guru Dutt is truly a lesson for today’s actors who rarely value friendship.

I feel he should have switched over to more mature characters in the Seventies and Eighties, rather than opting for writing and directing. The new generation of cinegoers wanted to see him in roles which suited his elderly age and looks. Devsaab to me will always remain the eternal, optimistic romantic.

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