Dev Anand, the evergreen style icon of the Indian film industry, would have been 100 on September 26 had he lived. Unsurprisingly, most media platforms last week were full of tributes for the legendary actor, who still has legions of fans across all age groups. Blitz India remembers the superstar by featuring a person, calling whom a ‘fan’ of Dev Anand would be demeaning his devotion for the star. Gurugram-based Rakesh Sharma, a successful businessman and an accomplished singer, has a junoonof-sort for Dev Anand. His love for the actor is so intense that it has enwrapped his entire family and has even percolated down to the third generation. As a tribute to his idol, Sharma hosts a musical extravaganza every year to celebrate Dev Anand’s birthday. The event is conceived, choreographed, and funded, by him and no sponsors are sought lest the spirit of the show gets diluted. Singers are invited from Mumbai and light & sound are left to the professionals, but otherwise it’s essentially an in-house show. Sharma’s wife Anita, who is also a talented singer, supervises the entire event and their two daughters, Akanksha and Anushka, play anchors. On the centenary year of Dev Saab’s birthday, the event – open to friends, relatives and admirers of Dev Anand – was held at the Air Force Auditorium and the 650-seat hall was brimming to capacity.
Read about the genesis of In love with Dev Saab, the man behind the show, and the detailed account of his devotion to the superstar in the following piece contributed by his daughter.
Of love, devotion … and EMOTION
MY dad (Rakesh Sharma) happens to have been born in the same town as Dev Saab – in Gurdaspur district of Punjab. No wonder, we see a strong connect!
Growing up, dad was captivated by Dev Saab’s magnetic presence. Every movie the actor starred in, every character he portrayed, became an unforgettable experience for him. He has been an ardent fan, a dedicated disciple, and a true devotee of Dev Saab ever since we saw him.
Dev Saab is more than just an actor for dad; he is someone that he idolises, worships, and … words fail me! He is the biggest inspiration for my dad; someone he looks up to with utmost reverence.
In the 1980s, when dad got to know that Dev Saab was in New Delhi and staying at Maurya Sheraton, he managed to contact him and had the privilege of speaking to him directly. The top actor invited my dad to his room and the two had a long conversation regarding their Gurdaspur-connect.
Meeting the legend
After that meeting, the two remained in regular touch over the phone and Dev Saab used to invite mom-dad for events/dinners, whenever he was in Delhi. On one such occasion – during the premier of his directorial venture Love At Times Square – I too got the opportunity to meet the legend. Dev Saab’s inspirational and fast-paced way of conversing, and the warmth with which he held me in his arms (I was five-year-old then) are still etched in my memory.
In 2007, when my elder sister was to get married, Dev Saab had promised to attend the function and we all were very excited about it. However, due to some exigency, he couldn’t make it. But the actor was gracious enough to call up my parents and convey his blessings to the newly-weds.
A unique tribute
When Dev Saab passed away in December 2011, dad decided to offer a unique tribute to him by organising a musical evening with songs from his films in the voices of singers from Mumbai. That was the first time In Love with Dev Saab was presented.
Dad had no idea then if he would be doing it on a regular basis as it was not a ticketed show, but a personal event for family and friends. But after the all-round applause and persistent requests from the audience, the onetime event became a tradition. The pandemic forced us to skip the show for a few years, but 2023 being Dev Saab’s birth centenary, we all were determined to make it happen.
With God’s grace and Dev Saab’s blessings, In Love with Dev Saab was a stupendous success this year with friends, family and the entire audience giving us huge thumbs up. This year’s show turned out to be extra special as my 10-year-old niece, Areen Nagrath, joined us in paying tributes to Dev Saab by singing the popular duet, Achha ji mein haari, with her grandpa. This was Areen’s maiden stage appearance and she got a standing ovation from the audience.
Areen’s enthralling singing proved once again that for us, as a family, Dev Saab is not just an actor we admire, adore and respect. He is an emotion we all feel.