Today is the 100th birth anniversary of Dev Anand and we take a look back at how a launderer’s mistake helped shape a friendship between two of Hindi cinema’s most unique and innovative minds.


In the early 1940s, Dharamdev Pishorimal Anand, after completing his BA degree from Govt. College, Lahore, arrived in Bombay. His elder brother, Chetan Anand, was part of IPTA and the younger sibling soon followed suit.


This was the time when the Bombay film industry was wowing audiences across India. The cynosure of all eyes was the reigning star, Ashok Kumar whose performances in Kismet and Achyut Kanya left an indelible impression on young Dharamdev.


He was determined to achieve stardom on the silver screen. He had later admitted, he nearly gate-crashed into Prabhat Film Studios and secured a leading role in their next production Hum Ek Hain.


It was on the sets of this film that the quirkiest of events led to the bonding of two incomparable creative minds. One day, at the shoot, Dharamdev, now using the screen name “Dev Anand”, was leaving the studio,


At the exit, he came face to face with another young man of roughly the same age. The two young men exchanged pleasantries. The other man introduced himself as an assistant director of the film and gave his name as Guru Dutt,


As they were bidding goodbyes, both took a second look at each other. It was then they realized that their shirts had been swapped – a mistake by the studio laundry man. Dev Anand and Guru Dutt had a good laugh over the faux pas.


Dev promised Guru that if he ever produced a film, Guru would direct it. Guru Dutt reciprocated by promising that Dev Anand would be the leading man of his first directorial venture.


In 1949, Dev Anand and his elder brother Chetan established their own production house Navketan Films. A year later, Navketan’s first film, Afsar – directed by Chetan and starring Dev – was released. But Dev hadn’t forgotten his promise.


For Navketan’s second production, titled Bazee, Dev got his friend Guru Dutt as the director. Bazee is acknowledged as the first crime noir film made in India. It was received positively and was the second highest commercial grosser of 1951.


Apart from its commercial success, Bazee would be unforgettable for the two friends for personal reasons. At the mahurat of the film, Guru Dutt was mesmerized by Geeta Ghosh RoyChowdhury’s rendition of the song “Tadbeer se bigdi huyi Taqdeer banale”.


The pair eventually got married in 1953. Meanwhile, the film’s leading man was undergoing troubles of the romantic type. Since 1946, he had been passionately in love with actress Suraiya.


But staunch opposition from Suraiya’s family meant that by 1951, the relationship was almost at its end.


For the romantic lead opposite Dev Anand in Baazee, Chetan Anand picked Mona Singha – a Punjabi Christian from Lahore. She was christened Kalpana Kartik and made her debut in the film.


It wasn’t quite love at first sight but slowly and gradually, romance blossomed between the pair. In 1954, during a shooting break of Taxi Driver, Dev Anand married Kalpana Kartik.


Among the first guests to arrive at the midnight wedding was Guru Dutt. In the coming years, Kartik was “Mona bhabhi” to Guru Dutt while Geeta Dutt became like a sister to Dev Anand.


Bazee remains a landmark film in the history of Hindi cinema since it was the first major success of lyricist Saahir Ludhianvi and the start of SD Burman’s golden run with Navketan Films.


Although creative differences between Guru and Chetan Anand.meant Dutt severed his relations with Navketan, the friendship between Dev and Guru remained unaltered. In 1952, Guru Dutt directed Dev Anand in Jaal.


The movie became one of the biggest commercial successes of the year and was listed by Filmfare as one of the best noir films of the 1950s. The success of Jaal propelled Dev Anand to superstardom.


Dev Anand and Guru Dutt worked only once more, in CID – produced by Dutt and starring Anand. CID also marked the Hindi debut of Waheeda Rehman and the beginning of one of Hindi filmdom’s most tragic romances.


Yet, in the highly competitive world of the Bombay film industry, the bond between Dev Anand and Guru Dutt would always remain special. To quote Dev saab: Zindegi ki daud mein uske jaisa dost phir kabhi nehi mila…..