Dev Anand was always keen to reach out to the optimum viewership. It won’t be wrong to say he was a star first, an actor later. Unlike his peer Dilip Kumar, Dev seldom did experimental films. But when he did the result was explosive. Listing 5 of Dev Saab’s out-of-box films which proved he could dare to be different.
1. Raahi(1952): Dev Anand in a role with distinct shades of negativity dared to play a tyrannical manager of a tea plantation owned by a British company. His moral transformation is startling, to say the least. Dev Anand had no songs in the film. He was dark sinister and far from the matinee idol that he was known to be.
2. Ferry(1954): Moving away from the matinee-idol mould once again, Dev played a widower with a young son who takes in a homeless woman(Geeta Bali). The inevitable happens. But the role gave Dev Anand a chance break his image. In a dhoti and playing the Sarod, he was quite the archetypal Bengali hero. I remember Dev Saab telling me his fans liked to see him in urbane roles and that he seldom played rural characters. Ferry was an exception.
3. Bambai Ka Babu(1960): Dev Anand played a runaway criminal who masquerades as the son of an old couple . He soon falls in love with the daughter of his asylum-providers. Suchitra Sen rarely made a foray into Hindi cinema. In this film when Dev Saab does her bidaai as her brother to the heartbreaking sound of Mukesh’s Chal ri sajni, you will hear a silent sob in your ear. It’s probably you.
4. Sharaabi(1964): Like Amitabh Bachchan many years later in a film with the same title Dev Saab had to remain inebriated on screen throughout. He played an alcoholic whose addiction destroys his family and workplace equilibrium. The film’s leading lady Madhubala had nothing much to do. But isn’t that true of most Dev Anand starrers except Guide?
5. Guide(1964): Needs no introduction , or recommendation Except to say that Dev Anand’s role as a tourist guide who changes roles to guide the career of a divorcee dancer(the stunning Waheeda Rehman) and who finally ends up cheating the woman he loves, is one of the most complex heroes of Hindi cinema. Dev Anand totally got it.