From super-hit films to Osho, Vijay Anand’s life was out-of-the-ordinary

Farhana Farook
·Contributor
·9-min read
From super-hit films to Osho, Vijay Anand’s life was out-of-the-ordinary

Incredible talent, a whirlwind rendezvous with Osho Rajneesh and an equally dispassionate moving away from him, Vijay Anand’s art and heart broke all moulds... Remembering the genius filmmaker on his 87th birth anniversary

Vijay Anand admired Guru Dutt’s realism, Raj Kapoor’s glamour and the existentialism in the works of Satyajit Ray. But as a filmmaker he didn’t want to make realistic movies. “This is a media for entertainment!” said the acclaimed filmmaker and proved it in his cross-genre films, which enjoy a cross-generational appeal.

He also said, “Cinema is far more varied than poetry, music, drama, painting… it’s flowing architecture!” Truly, his song picturizations were ballads, lyricising the emotions of his protagonists, providing a subtext to the narrative.

Waheeda Rehman walking precariously on the ledge of a fort in Aaj phir jeene ki tamnna hai (Guide) was about seeking renaissance amidst the ruins.

Hothon pe aisi baat mein daba ke chali ayee (Jewel Thief), famous for its single-shot take, is a triumph of camera placements as its about Vyjayanthimala’s graceful glide through a throng of dancers.

Shammi Kapoor’s Elvis Presley-esque hijinks in tandem with R.D.Burman’s instrumentation in Aaja aaja, main hoon pyar tera (Teesri Manzil), could pull even the most indolent on the party floor.

Not to forget the sheer romance in Tere mere sapne ab ek rang hai, Pal pal dil ke paas or Jeevan ki bagiya mehke gi… which revealed the poetics of his vision. “My camera listens to the song and moves with it,” he explained.

While almost every filmmaker idolises Vijay Anand, few are even vocal about it. Like Sriram Raghavan’s paid a tribute to the grandmaster by playing his film, Johny Mera Naam, in a scene in Johnny Gaddaar. In the annals of Hindi cinema, Vijay Anand is a golden chapter.

THE MAKER

Goldie’s (Vijay Anand’s pet name) childhood was spent in Gurdaspur in Punjab. A fair child with blonde curls, his father called him ‘Goldilocks’. Goldie lost his mother when he was seven.

He, along with his two older sisters (they were a family of nine siblings), came to live with older brother Chetan Anand and his wife Uma Anand in Juhu. Chetan was older to Dev by 10 years, who in turn was older to Goldie by 10.

While studying in St Xavier’s College in Mumbai, Goldie directed several plays, including Rehearsal, a take-off on Hamlet. Just out of college, he wrote the script for his family banner, Navketan’s Taxi Driver (1954), inspired by Hollywood’s noir movement.

He also wrote the script of Nau Do Gyarah (1957) and wanted to direct it. Once when Dev was going to Mahableshwar, young Goldie hopped in the car and related the story to his older brother through the journey. On reaching Mahableshwar, Dev called his office and said, “Navektan’s next production will be directed by Vijay Anand!”

There on, Goldie’s career took off. Nau Do Gyarah was an urban thriller with elements from Frank Capra’s It Happened One Night (1934). His penchant for creative picturisation was evident when he filmed Aaja panchi akela hai in a constricted space - a room and a washroom! The film’s other hit tracks were Hum hain rahi pyar ke and Aankhon mein kya ji.

Kala Bazaar (1960) was one film where all the three brothers worked together. Dev produced it. Goldie wrote and directed it. Chetan acted in it. Based on black-marketeers of movie tickets, Vijay included real shots of the premiere of Mehboob Khan’s Mother India featuring Dilip Kumar, Nargis, Geeta Dutt, Guru Dutt and others.

Rhim jhim ke tarane, shot with Dev Anand and Waheeda Rehman under an umbrella, was another picturization marvel.

Once, when Goldie fell sick, publicist/friend Amarjeet nursed him. In return, Goldie promised him a break as a director. Goldie wrote a detailed script of Hum Dono (1961) marking the entry, exit, camera placement points... to help Amarjeet direct. But yet Amarjeet couldn’t manage.

Finally, Goldie directed the film but gave Amarjeet the promised credit. Sahir Ludhianvi’s lyrics and Jaidev’s music created the immortal tracks Allah tero naam and Abhi na jaao choddh kar in the Dev Anand starrer.

Nutan was one of Goldie’s favourite actresses. Dil ka bhanwar in Tere Ghar Ke Saamne (1963) was shot in the Qutub Minar to get the feel of Delhi. Dev and Nutan climb up as friends but come down as lovers. The song Ek ghar banaaonga is remembered for the camera tricks, where Nutan is seen in the glass of whiskey.

Guide (1965) was Navketan’s first film in colour. While it was based on RK Narayan’s novel The Guide, Goldie rewrote the ‘adultery’ angle to make it palatable for Indian audiences.

Under Goldie’s direction, Guide became a classic with excellent photography (Fali Mistry), acting (Dev Anand-Waheeda Rehman), music (SD Burman), lyrics (Shailendra) and editing (Vijay Anand and Babu Shiekh).

The song Tere mere sapne in Guide, where Dev instils hope in a dejected Waheeda Rehman, was shot pre-dawn in Udapiur and canned in three shots. Aaj phir jeene ki tamanna hai was filmed in the Chittorgarh Fort. Waheeda flinging the earthen pot was a metaphor of breaking past moulds. The finest compliment for Goldie came from RK Narayan who said, “The film is more beautiful than my book.”

Goldie directed the spy thriller Jewel Thief in 1967. For the iconic number, Hothon pe aisi baat filmed on Vyjayanthimala, four cameras were put up including a trolley camera. With dynamic angles and minimum cuts, the song is a technical marvel.

Lending his brand of pizzazz to Nasir Hussain’s Teesri Manzil (1966), Goldie is responsible for revving up Shammi Kapoor’s ‘rockstar’ image. RD Burman’s Aaja aaja and Oh haseena zulfonwali, given its plug-in energy, remains a pub favourite.

Potboiler Johny Mera Naam (1970) proved Goldie’s versatility. Pal bhar ke liye is remembered for the creative use of windows as props. Just as the scene where Hema Malini rides on a cable T-bar on Dev Anand’s lap.

A film that remained close to Goldie’s heart was the offbeat Tere Mere Sapne (1971, based on AJ Cronin’s The Citadel). The story of human relationships beaten hollow by materialism, it starred Dev Anand and Mumtaz. SD Burman’s music matched the mellow narrative.

Radha ne maala japi symbolised the beginning of love, while Hey maine kasam li (filmed on Dev-Mumtaz on a bicycle) spoke of a journey together. Jeevan ki bagiya, shot in close-ups was warm and intimate, just as the less heard Mera antar ek mandir was about the consummation of dreams.

Blackmail (1973) is another musical milestone. While Pal pal dil ke saath is remembered for its dreamy picturization, Mile mile do badan, where the couple (Dharmendra-Raakhee) sensing the danger around them and the love within them, was a beautiful paradox.

LOVE & GOD

Coming to his personal sphere, around the mid-70s, Goldie, drew towards philosopher Bhagwan Rajneesh (Osho). It was during that time he met Loveleen, who’d come to interview him on behalf of Moscow radio.

Goldie introduced the world of Rajneesh to an awed Loveleen. With the blessings of Rajneesh, Goldie and Loveleen got married in Pune. The relationship hit discord when Loveleen expressed a desire to act. Apparently, Rajneesh urged them to end what had turned into a rancorous marriage.

Veteran journalist Ali Peter John reportedly wrote about Goldie’s fascination for Rajneesh saying, “Vijay Anand had converted his house into a ‘mandir’ where hundreds gathered to listen what he’d learned from his Bhagwan. He was known as Swami Vijay Anand Bharati and wore saffron robes and a mala with a pendant having Bhagwan’s picture.”

Journalist Ali Peter John summed up Goldie’s eventual disillusionment with Osho saying, “He found the Bhagwan to be a multi-millionaire, who ran a business in the name of religion… He threw away the saffron robes, put the mala in the commode and flushed it down.”

Returning to films, Goldie directed Ram Balram (1980) and Rajput (1982) but found little success. He also acted Kora Kagaz (1974) and Main Tulsi Tere Aangan Ki (1978).

Goldie was excited about Hum Rahe Na Hum (1984), a relationship saga that featured Rehana Sultan and Shabana Azmi with him and Jaana Na Dil Se Door with newcomers. Sadly, he couldn’t release them.

Goldie and Sushma Kohli got married in 1978 during the shoot of Ram Balram. Sushma being his niece, the alliance invited much censure before things settled. They had a son, Vaibhav, now an aspiring filmmaker.

“We cared for each other to the extent that we wanted to get married. He liked my simplicity. I understood his temperament. He rarely lost his cool. I was the one who’d lose my temper. I was crazier,” revealed the dignified Sushma in a rare interview.

“Yes, women did throw themselves at him. But I never felt jealous. Rather, I’d tease him, ‘Main dekh rahi hoon! Maze karo! Enjoy yourself’!” she said in jest.

Sushma revealed that Goldie eventually found solace in philosopher UG Krishnamurthi. “My husband accepted life as it came. He was against pretence. He never missed his past glory. He’d say it was a closed chapter,” she shared.

Apparently, Goldie was planning to make Nyaymurthy Krishnamurthy, an expose of the judicial system, when he developed a heart problem. In fact, having some knowledge of astrology, Goldie had predicted that February 2004 was a bad month for him.

He died of a cardiac arrest on 23 February 2004. A usually reticent Dev Anand couldn’t stop crying for the next two days. He had not only lost a sibling but a soulmate in his romance with the movies.

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