India sadly lost one of its great cinematic pioneers on Saturday in Dev Anand.
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7 Dec 2011 - 2:41 PM  UPDATED 26 Feb 2014 - 4:10 PM

Born 26 September 1923 in the British ruled Punjab, now Pakistan, Dev Anand was a giant of the Hindi-language film industry. As the star of more than 100 films, Anand was primarily known as a matinee idol that along with Raj Kapoor and Dilip Kuma was part of the triumvirate of great stars who dominated Indian cinema in the '50s, '60s and '70s. Anand maintained an active role in the cinema from his first film in 1946 until his death. He also directed 19 films and was an influential producer, with 35 titles under his production banner, Navketan Films, which he established in 1949 with his elder brother, Chetan Anand.

Dev Anand completed a Bachelors degree in English literature at the Government College, Lahore. At the persuasion of his elder brother, Chetan, a filmmaker who would share the first ever Grand Prix du Festival International du Films (Best Film) at Cannes for his debut film, Neecha Nagar (1946), Anand joined the Indian People's Theatre Association (IPTA) in Bombay in the 1940s.

His first starring role followed quickly in Prabhat Films' Hum Ek Hain (1946). During production he met Guru Dutt and a life-long friendship was formed. Anand later hired Dutt to direct his first producing venture, Baazi (1951). The crime thriller, Anand's homage to 1940s Hollywood, starred Anand and introduced both Dutt and Kalpana Kartik as the lead heroine. The film was a commercial success.

Anand is well known for his on-screen partnerships. Anand and acclaimed singer/actress Suraiya starred in a number of commercially successful films together, in which Suraiya had lead billing. The pair fell in love during the filming of the song 'Kinare Kinare Chale Jayenge' in their first film, Vidya (1948), when a boat capsized and Anand saved Suraiya's life.

Their union was opposed by Suraiya's family because of religious differences and Suraiya remained unmarried for the remainder of her life. Anand later established a long running on-screen pairing with Kalpana Kartik, the actress he debuted in Baazi. Following the premiere of their hit, Taxi Driver (1954), directed by Chetan Anand, the pair married. Their first child, Suneil, was born in 1956 followed by a daughter, Devina.

Anand is considered a pioneer of the industry. He released his first colour film, Guide, in 1965. Based on the English novel by Tamil writer R. K. Narayan, the rights for which Anand pursued vigorously, his younger brother Vijay Anand directed the film. As critic Rachel Dwyer notes, Guide is one of the few Hindi-language films to be adapted from a book. Dwyer also contends that Anand's character Raju was one of the early anti-heroes of Hindi cinema. Guide was produced as a U.S. co-production, and filmed in both Hindi and English.

As a director, Anand's most successful venture was Hare Rama Hare Krishna (1971) – a comment on the destructive influence of Western values on traditional Indian families as exemplified by the hippie movement. It is also well known for playback singer Asha Bhosle's ubiquitous song, 'Dum Maro Dum Mit Jaaye Gum'.

Anand's nephew, internationally acclaimed director Shekhar Kapur (Bandit Queen, Elizabeth, Elizabeth: The Golden Age), son of Anand's younger sister, Sheela Kanta Kapur, has written of his uncle on his blog. He writes of the “Dev Uncle” he knew; the man who invested all of his money and energy into Ishq Ishq Ishq (1974) only to see it fail at the box office. “He was sad. Reflective,” Kapur writes. “For all of five minutes. He then looked at me and smiled. “I just be back 'Shekharonios' [that's what he called me) and went into the bedroom of the suite.… Ten minutes Dev Anand emerged. His eyes were vibrant. His face excited. He was unable to sit down for his excitement. Looked me in the eyes. 'Shekharonios, I just thought of a great plot for my next film!!'”

The 88-year-old actor passed away on Saturday December 3 due to a cardiac arrest while in his hotel room. His son, Suneil was with him when he died. His wife Kalpana Kartik and daughter Devina have since flown to the British capital.

The Economic Times is reporting that Dev Anand's cremation and last rites will likely occur this weekend in London. The Times also reports that there will be a "condolence meeting” at the legendary Mehboob studio in Mumbai “because a make-up room of Dev sahab is still there at the studio”.