WHEN DEV ANAND FOUGHT AGAINST THE EMERGENCY
Forty years after the Emergency, veteran journalist Ranjan Das Gupta remembers how Dev Anand brought the film industry together for a cause
During the Emergency of 1975, Congress leader Sanjay Gandhi ordered that no songs by late singer Kishore Kumar would be played on All India Radio. The reason being that Kumar refused to obey Gandhi’s instructions of appearing in a show in New Delhi to support the Emergency. This annoyed late actor Dev Anand (above), who strongly opposed the Emergency.
The fearless Dev Anand refused to speak in support of the emergency on Doordarshan, when asked to do so. He openly defied the Emergency along with brothers Chetan and Vijay. The Anands received support from colleagues like late actor Pran, late filmmaker Hrishikesh Mukherjee and actors Shatrughan Sinha, Danny Dengzongpa and Sadhana. Together they formed the National Party which remains the first and only political party formed by film personalities for a cause. Dev Anand received a lot of public support for this effort.
Eye-witnesses say that no one will forget the enthusiasm with which the crowds greeted Devsaab as he delivered a fiery speech against the Emergency at Juhu beach in Mumbai. In his lecture, Dev Anand strongly attacked the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, and her son Sanjay for their autocratic attitude.
His speech was followed by an even harder-hitting one by his brother Vijay Anand. The youngest Anand defied the Congress and challenged the government to arrest him and his brothers. So courageous was their bid that the likes of Jay Prakash Narayan and Satyajit Ray were moved.
The government however, did not arrest the rebellious Anands. Dev Anand later faced problems at work. He is known to have said that he faced umpteen hurdles from the government while shooting Des Pardes (1978). Remembering those days, Shatrughan Sinha says, “It was a clarion call from Devsaab. We were to fight for democracy, I supported him fully.”
Dengzongpa adds, “I’m an ardent supporter of democratic rights. The fight against Emergency was one occasion when we joined hands and won what we were fighting for. The leadership Devsaab gave us was too encouraging.”