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“He  Was Forever 18 To Me”,  One Legend Remembers Another: Mumtaz Remembers Dev Anand  On His  Birthday

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Dev Anand and Mumtaz

The  gorgeous Mumtaz  who recently celebrated her 75th birthday , fondly remembers  one of  her favourite co-stars Dev Anand from her  beautiful home in London.

“If he was with us, how old would he  be today? 99? For me  he was forever 18. When he died here in London I couldn’t bring myself to go see him for the last time,  although he was  just  a few blocks  away from where I stay. To imagine  him lifeless  is  inconceivable even today,” says  Mumtaz with a  sigh, recalling her long association with the evergreen superstar.

“We  did  only two films together. But we knew one another for much longer.Dev Saab’s brother  Vijay Anand  brought us together. Vijay asked Dev Saab if  he’d work with me. Dev Saab  said. ‘Why not? She is  such a beautiful  girl.’  We were paired together  for the  first time in Vijay Anand’s Tere Mere Sapne.Why not before? You know how this industry is. Dev Saab  had his own camp his own  favourite heroines like Waheeda Rehman  and Hema Malini. I  was  considered Rajesh Khanna’s heroines.That’s the way it was,” Mumtaz  says with a take-it-or-leave-it  nonchalance.

 She  consider Tere Mere Sapne her  most difficult  and most challenging part. “I should have   got  the  award  for  Tere Mere Sapne instead  of KhilonaKhilona was very  melodramatic  hence easier to do. In Tere Mere Sapne I had to underplay my character  throughout. It was  very tough. And Vijay Anand shot me  and Dev Saab in tight close-ups in those two beautiful songs Jeevan ki  bagiya mehkegi and  Hai main  kasam lee. I felt very uncomfortable”

Why uncomfortable? “Because the camera was  almost  kissing my cheeks. I felt very insecure. I had never been  shoot  so upclose  before.Dev saab was  a big help. He  was  a  legend  by the time worked we  together.I was  a  big star  too by then. But we worked together  like  partners in spite of this being  our first  film together.”

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Next Mumtaz  was  offered  Hare Rama Hare Krishna by Dev Anand. “He offered me   both  the  female leads,  the sister  and  the  love interest. I chose  the love interest, though I  knew it  was  a far less  important  role. I know Zeenat Aman  benefited  immensely from Hare Rama Hare Krishna. It was  a brother-sister  story. How could  I play  Dev Saab’s  sister after playing his wife  in Tere Mere Sapne  and doing  such intimate scenes  with him  in that  film?  The audience  would have rejected us as siblings.  I agreed  to do  the other role  instead. Maine toh sirf Dev Saab ke liye haan ke diya . He insisted  . I am glad I did Hare Rama Hare Krishna. We shot at  a  stretch in  Kathmandu  for a month.It was a whole lot of fun.”

Mumtaz reveals  that Dev Anand  had a special name  for her. “He called me Mumsy. Every morning when  we shot  together he  would call me to his  makeup room and ask me to choose the handkerchief to be  worn around his  neck.  And he would  wear the one that I  chose every morning.  It  was a very big thing for me. I don’t know of anyone  else  who got to choose Dev Saab’s handkerchiefs ,and that  too morning after morning.”

She has only one regret  vis-à-vis Dev Anand. “I wish we had done more films together.  Just being around him was so  inspiring. His endless energy was  infectious.When I  go, I want to go like Dev Saab,  alert agile and ageless.”