He was a multifaceted talent for whom (as is not widely known) acting was his first love, writing and direction his hidden fortes that were slowly
discovered, and who had also a knack for editing films and writing lyrics. What’s more, Vijay Anand, who would have turned 80 on January 22, had even trained
Goldie (as he was famously known) was a man ahead of his time, much like equally well-educated elder brothers Chetan Anand and Dev Anand, and began his film
career assisting Chetan. His first official break was as writer in Taxi Driver, produced by and starring Dev Anand and directed by Chetan Anand.
Says son Vaibhav Anand, who is also planning to make his own film soon, “My father was very keen that I should cultivate my own style of filmmaking once he
sensed my inclination towards filmmaking. ‘Don’t watch my films to follow me,’ he would say. And that’s what he did himself – his style was completely
different from Chetan uncle’s experimental brand of cinema. He was always into commercial movies, but with solid stories and content. My father spent his
prime years doing theater and started writing plays as a student in St. Xavier’s College.”
Director Prem Prakash, who assisted him through almost every film as director, recalls that it was Uma Devi, Chetan Anand’s wife, who sensed Anand’s writing
skills when he was told to handle the shooting of scenes in the latter’s films. The lady saw her brother-in-law rewrite many of these scenes for his own
satisfaction and when she went through some of his work, she urged her husband to let him write Taxi Driver with her.
“Later, it was Goldie-saab, who conceived and shot the song ‘Ae Meri Topi Palat Ke Aa‘ for Funtoosh (1956), showing his knack of filming
songs in an extraordinary way. I remember working on the song and holding the black thread to lift the cap during the shooting. The black thread would not be
exposed in a black-and-white film and it would seem as if the cap was moving on its own,” says Prakash.
And so when Anand scripted Nau Do Gyarah, his interpretation of Frank Capra’s It Happened One Night, and Dev wanted his friend Raj Khosla to
direct it, Goldie insisted that he would give them the script only if he was allowed to make the film!
Adds Prakash, “Goldie-saab did something unique after he got the film: he shot the entire climax first, made up of over 30 shots and showed it to his
brothers to convince them that he could handle the movie!”
A standout feature of Anand was the fact that he never discriminated between himself and his assistants. “We all knew each and everything that he had thought
of and planned,” says Prakash, who even directed Chor Chor (1974) produced by Anand, a song-less thriller starring him with Leena Chandarvarkar.
About his father’s fetish for acting, son Vaibhav says, “Acting had always desperately been dad’s first love since his college days – he had done Chetan
uncle’s Joru Ka Bhai and Ravindra Dave’s Agra Road before he turned director.” Later, apart from the key supporting roles in his own films
Kala Bazar, Tere Mere Sapne and Chhupa Rustom, Goldie turned leading man again with films like Double Cross and more movies. “He was
really appreciated as the hero of the super-hit Kora Kagaz with Jaya Bachchan and even as Nutan’s husband in Main Tulsi Tere Aangan Ki, both
While Goldie’s last directorial was the 1982 Rajput his last work, as destiny would have it, was as actor in the 1994 television serial
Tehqiqat. Mention of the serial reminds Prakash of a shoot for this detective serial with Raaj Kumar. “Very few know that Goldie-saab and Raaj
Kumar were close family friends, even though he never directed the actor. Even for the serial, I am not sure whether the episode was aired. But they did work
together as actors in Chetan-saab’s Hindustan Ki Kasam. By the way, Raaj Kumar had been offered Ashok Kumar’s role in Jewel Thief but he was
hesitant because Dev-saab was the hero and producer!”
Anand was disillusioned with the system when he announced a film called Dekha Jayega in the ’80s and a major star played dirty, leading to the
shelving of the film. Two more biggies that never took off were Ek Do Teen Char with eight top stars including Dev Anand and a Salim-Javed script with
Raj Kapoor and Dilip Kumar co-starring with Dev Anand. “Goldie-saab had two meetings with Dilip-saab and realized that he was not interested,
though Raj-saab was very keen,” says Prakash. Anand’s last film, Jaana Na Dil Se Door, remains completed but unreleased.
The least known aspects of Vijay Anand included the fact that he had employed a music teacher to learn all the raags – on S.D.Burman’s harmonium that
still occupies pride of place in Ketnav, his landmark studio! The other was that Zee had approached him to write and direct a mega-series on Gautam Buddha.
“My dad, a voracious reader and a man familiar with so much of overseas cinema, always felt that Mahabharat and Buddha were two Indian subjects
that were completely global in appeal and relevance,” recalls Vaibhav, who was 22 when his father passed away. “He always thought that the former should be
made in parts, like a Lord Of The Rings or other film series, for the big screen.”
It was his exposure to so many global influences that made Anand’s films have a timeless freshness to them, come Kala Bazar, Hum Dono, Tere Ghar Ke
Saamne, Guide (considered the acme of his work), Teesri Manzil, Jewel Thief and his last and career-biggest hit, Johny Mera Naam. “My
father never thought anything of letting Amarjeet-saab taking credit for the direction of Hum Dono, it was his way of expressing his gratitude
to Amarjeet-saab about something that had happened when he was ill once.”
Anand’s only ‘different’ film, with which he officially turned producer, was Tere Mere Sapne, inspired by A.J. Cronin’s The Citadel. “He had
suffered at the hands of a corrupt doctor and wanted to make a film on corruption in the field,” recalls Vaibhav. “For some reason connected with this, his
most favourite song remained ‘Jeevan Ki Bagiya Mehkegi‘ from this film,” reveals Vaibhav.
Prakash says that Anand was nothing less than a genius and a school of filmmaking by himself, self-admittedly emulated even today by directors like Farah
Khan and Sanjay Leela Bhansali and openly given a tribute by Sriram Raghavan in the film Johnny Gaddaar. “Goldie-saab changed his style with
every film. If it was Capra in Nau Do Gyarah, there was a stage kind of style in Kala Bazar, where the actors moved more than the camera, and
the Hitchcock influence in Jewel Thief.
His music sense, recalls Prakash, was amazing. “He had a tremendous tuning with S.D.Burman – though Dev-saab also had a major role in the songs – and
after that with Kalyanji-Anandji. Did you know that all three Anand brothers were great poets and that Dev-saab was a terrific singer? He would get a
song made according to his brief and then shoot in unique ways. Like the title-song in Tere Ghar Ke Saamne in which Nutan is placed inside a glass and
even sings to him from within. It was Goldie-saab‘s concept executed by special effects men Dayabhai and Gordhanbhai.”
The controversial elements in Anand’s life were restricted to his involvement with Osho and his tryst as Censor chief. Reveals Vaibhav, “My dad parted ways
amicably with Osho when the latter could not satisfactorily answer some questions asked by him about life. And he could never tolerate the bureaucratic ways
of the government when he wanted to change things within the Censor board setup. He had spent six tireless months doing research all over India and had
suggested progressive and pragmatic changes both in the way the board operated and in their view of different kinds of cinema. But he got disgusted with the
wall he came across.”
And Vaibhav has the last word on the titanic talent that was his father. “He was a very caring father who pampered me silly. But in work and values, he was a
disciplinarian. And yet when we look back, we see a highly enlightened man who was searching for his own identity, which is why he chose to make
Guide, turn a great novel into a greater film, and reach his cinematic peak.”