Dev Anand's Marriage: Loving Suraiya, Marrying Kalpana

When Dev Anand played the role of the suave poet in Teen Devian in 1965, he left women audiences literally swooning due to his amazingly crisp looks and smooth dialogue delivery. He was after all the most handsome actor of his generation, who in his five decades in showbiz, had given the ‘big break’ to some of the big-name actresses of today, including Hema Malini, Zeenat Aman, Tina Munim and in more recent times, Tabu. But he had his big break with the one woman he couldn’t get. This is the story of Dev Anand’s marriage, and his love life.

In spite of decades of being a heartthrob to millions, and the undying love he had for Suraiya, Anand stayed espoused to one woman, Kalpana Kartik, for all his life. However, the one failed relationship with actress Suraiya precedes Dev Anand’s marriage. Post-marriage though he was involved once with the actress Zeenat Aman but that was not for very long, and the matter fizzled out soon.

If Raj Kapoor was the showman of Indian cinema, Dev Anand was the show-stopper who could transfix your attention, by what his brother Chetan Anand described as, ‘those smiling eyes.’ We take a closer look at the love life and more of the legendary Dev Anand.

Dev Anand – In Love With Life

Dev Anand's Marriage - Dev Anand

Dev Anand was born Dharamdev Anand on 26th September 1923 in Gurdaspur district, Punjab which was then a part of undivided India. Dev Anand was one among five siblings, and has only one sister, Sheela Kanta Kapur, who is the mother of the popular film director Shekhar Kapur. Anand received most of his early education from Dalhousie and Dharamsala, and later went to Lahore’s Britain Regional expats district for his higher education. He came back during the partition, and later moved to Mumbai, in the early 1940s, and took up a job of a clerk. Eventually, he joined the Indian People’s Theatre Association (IPTA) along with elder brother Chetan Anand, and was later inspired to become a full-fledged actor after seeing the movie performances of actor Ashok Kumar (Kishore Kumar’s brother).

It was in 1946 that he was given an opportunity to star as a lead protagonist by producer Babu Rao Pai, and Dev Anand made his debut in the same year with the film Hum Ek Hain. Soon after Anand was offered roles in films opposite the established actress Suraiya, and the two starred in seven films together with most of them meeting commercial success at the box office. By late 1940s, Anand was a star, and had developed his own fan following owing to unique style and persona.

In 1949, Anand started his very own production company called Navketan films, and the first movie from his production house was Afsar in the year 1950. After Dev Anand’s marriage. he went on to producer 35 films under his home-production banner, with his last film coming out as recent as in 2011.

Anand was on a visit to London in December 2011, when a he suffered cardiac arrest while at his hotel room. He breathed his last on 4th December 2011 at the age of 88 just months after the release of his last film Chargesheet. His loss was mourned by the nation, and his admirers all across the globe. In 2013, Anand’s brass statue was unveiled at ‘Walk of the Stars’ section of Bandstand Promenade in Mumbai. The same year the Indian government released a postage stamp bearing Anand’s image in honour of his exemplary contributions to the Indian cinema.

The First True Love

Dev Anand's Marriage - Dev Anand And Suraiya Jamaal Sheikh

In 1947, the relatively unknown Dev Anand was offered the leading role opposite the much popular actress Suraiya. Suraiya was born Suraiya Jamaal Sheikh in 1929, and was a playback singer and actress- adept at singing and acting, and the first in the league of established singer-actors like Kishore Kumar, Sulakshana Pandit, and Farhan Akhtar of the post-independence era.

The first film of Dev Anand and Suraiya was Vidya in the year 1948, and it happened so that during the shooting of a song on a river, Anand and Suraiya’s boat capsized. Suraiya did not know how to swim, fortunately Anand did, and he swam holding Suraiya to the bank thus saving her life. Needless to say Suraiya felt indebted to Anand, and the two soon became friends. Their film Vidya was a success, and the Anand-Suraiya pair became the hit formula for producers to make the cash registers ring. The two were signed together time after time; at one point for three films at a row, which eventually led them to spend a lot of time in each other’s company.

By their fourth film, Jeet (1949), their love had blossomed and Anand finally proposed to Suraiya with a diamond ring. It was now clear that the duo were ready to take their relationship to the next level. Since they belonged to different faiths, they knew their families would never concede to their relationship. Therefore, during the making of the film Jeet they decided to slip out of the shooting with help of some friendly co-actors and crew members, and later eloped to get married. The plan for Suraiya and Dev Anand’s marriage would have worked, but apparently, the news reached the ears of an assistant director, who swiftly informed Suraiya’s grandmother, the family chieftess, Badshah Begum, who immediately rushed to the sets and dragged Suraiya home.

It was an emotional drama as usual. Suraiya’s grandmother Badshah Begum threatened to end her life if Suraiya tied the knot with Dev Anand, who belonged to a different faith. Many people say the old lady had a covert reason for opposing Suraiya and Dev Anand’s marriage, the fact that Suraiya was the highest earning member of the large family. Suraiya’s parents though were supportive but their opinion was harshly overridden by Suraiya’s maternal grandmother. Either way the relationship could not culminate into a wedlock, and Suraiya and Anand worked for one last time with the film Do Sitare in 1951. It is said after the completion of the film, the two met at Suriaya’s apartment, in presence of Anand’s elder brother Chetan Anand one last time. The doleful lovers sobbed throughout their last conversation, and later Suraiya threw Anand’s proposal ring into the sea. It was a sad end of a sweet love story, and needless to say the pair was shattered. The sweet dream of Suraiya and Dev Anand’s marriage was sent to it’s end.

Giving Love A Second Chance, Dev Anand’s Marriage To Kalpana

Dev Anand's Marriage - Dev Anand And Kalpana Kartik

Dev Anand was deeply depressed by his breakup with Suraiya, and it is said he almost decided to quit films. It was only when his elder brother Chetan Anand counselled him that he pulled up his socks and decided to to focus on his career. It was in 1951, that he decided to come out with his second home-production film Baazi, which was to be directed by filmmaker and Anand’s good friend Guru Dutt. Chetan Anand, who actually handled the production work at Navketan films, was looking for a fresh face for the part of the female protagonist. It is when he learnt about a 20-year old beauty queen from Shimla called Mona Singha, who happened to be in Mumbai around those days. Chetan Anand approached Mona with the offer for the film to which she obliged, and she was immediately bestowed the screen name Kalpana Kartik. Kalpana made her debut with Baazi (1951), which went on to become a massive hit.

It was deja vu for Anand, excpet this was to be a happy ending, with Dev Anand’s marriage. Just like it happened with him and Suraiya, Anand and Kalpana were offered numerous films together mainly owing to the success the pair brought to the box office. The pair went on to do six films together, and just how Anand fell in love with Suraiya by his fourth film together, he happened to develop amorous feelings for Kalpana during the making of their fourth film together Taxi Driver (1954). This time Anand did not waste any time, and gave out his feelings without hesitation, and surprisingly Kalpana reciprocated the same sentiment about him. Anand had the support of his elder brother, Chetan Anand. and it is said that Kalpana’s parents also assented their daughter’s decision, in spite of the fact that Anand and Kalpana came from different faiths (Kalpana was a Christian).

At the stroke of midnight, during the making of their film Taxi Driver, Dev Anand’s marriage to Kalpana Kartik was officiated at a quiet private ceremony. The sorrows and wounds of Dev Anand were finally healed, and he finally found his true soul-mate. Anand and Kalpana were blessed with a son, Suneil Anand, in 1956 in Zurich, where they were attending a film festival. They later had a daughter too, Devina Anand, thus completing their picture perfect family.

That Attractive Newcomer

Dev Anand's Marriage - Dev Anand And Zeenat Aman

In 1971, Dev Anand discovered Zeenat Aman, an actress, who after a string of flops was all set to leave the country forever. Anand approached her for the role of his hippie sister in what would go on to be the cult classic called Hare Rama Hare Krishna (1971). Zeenat Aman decided to give it a shot and the film met a huge success mainly due to Aman’s true to life performance. It marked the beginning of yet another pair, and Anand went on to work with Aman in four more films.

Apparently, Anand soon started feeling enticed towards Aman by the end of their fifth film together Kalabaaz in 1977. But the progress of their alleged affair was broken by none other than the filmmaker Raj Kapoor, with Dev Anand’s marriage still going on. The story goes (and you need to have it with a pinch of salt) that Anand was all set to propose to Aman on one night, but before the date Aman had to attend a party. She asked Anand to accompany her, and he willingly tagged along. It was at this party that Zeenat happened to meet Raj Kapoor, who in his inebriated state, began flirting with Zeenat Aman in a raunchy manner. What shocked Anand next was the sight of Aman reciprocating Kapoor’s every racy move with equal zeal and excitement. Needless to say, Anand soon called-off the date, and the two moved away to their respective paths since then. Since then he was never linked-up with any other actress ever, and Dev Anand’s marriage to Kalpana was his only one.

The Legend For Sure

Dev Anand's Marriage - Dev Anand The Democrat

Dev Anand and Kalpana Kartik remained espoused till his death in the year 2011. Anand surely left a lasting legacy, and his wife happens to be the only living member of the original Navketan films team, which gave some of the finest hits of the 1950s and 1960s. Kalpana Kartik now lives with her children and grandchildren in Mumbai, and in a rare 2015 interview she shared the following poignant words about her husband, the legendary Dev Anand.

“He was a really caring husband and father. People feel we separated, but that is absolutely false. Dev is very much in my heart even today, smiling and guiding me as only he can. I just cannot believe that he is no more. To me he is always Dev Anand my husband, right from our midnight marriage on the sets of Taxi Driver in 1954.”
– Kalpana Kartik in 2015 speaking about her late husband Dev Anand

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