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"Main Zindagi Ka Saath Nibhata Chala Gaya, Har Fikar Ko Dhuen Mein Udata Chala Gaya” pretty much sums up the way Devsaab lived his life. The 88-year-old “youngster” passed away in London on December 3rd 2011. The legend that is Dev Anand will forever be etched in the fondest of our memories. Turns out, the life affirming star had friends in Atlanta and had been connected to our city in many ways. In an effort to revive and revisit those memories Atlanta’s beloved personality Mustafa Ajmeri hosted “Dil Aaj Shaayar Hai”, a tribute to the evergreen star with live musical performance by “Sur Taal Music” on December 9th at the Global Mall. The event was coordinated by Mustafa Ajmeri, Alibhai Asani, Upendra Bhatt and Tej Khurana.
Clearly, Devsaab had garnered quite a few ardent fans in Atlanta including Subhash Razdan, President of Gandhi Foundation, AAHOA’s founding member and past chairman Mike (Mukesh) Patel, Bobby (Mukund) Patel, author Uma Majmudar, Raja Ghale, President of NASeA and even Hollywood personalities Billy Camp and Derothy Smith. Approximately 300 and odd admirers gathered at the event to “celebrate the life” of the star, as emcee Nivedita put it.
The music team of the evening, Alibhai Asani , Sonia Anand (tambourine), Lakshmi Rao, Babar Akbar, Uday Singh, Sandeep Savla (Harmonium), Sanjay Patel (Tabla), Vijay Tandon(Sound), kicked up a storm with their performances. Uday Singh and Alibhai dressed in Dev Anand’s signature attire, cap, jacket and ascot added additional charm. Alibhai’s “Hain Apna Dil toh Aawaara” transported the audience to a trance and continued to mesmerize the crowd all through the night. His duets with Sonia Anand, including a mock performance to “Mana Janaab ne pukaara nahin” and another with Sanjay Patel on tabla was heartfelt and simply endearing. Sonia also danced to the popular number “Hoto pe aisi baat” and sang classical ‘Kuhu Kuhu bole Koyaliya” with live music. Uday Singh entertained the audience with his mimicry while Aslam Bhai (Aslam Pervez) rendered Shayaari to the T. Babar Akbar and his daughter Michelle sang “Phoolonka taaronka” amongst others. Lakshmi Rao’s melodious “Aaj phir jeene ki tamanna Hain” and Sandeep Bhai’s “Yeh dil Na hota bechara” were a treat to remember. A few video clips of Devsaab’s interviews, banquets were also played.
Subhash Razdan and Mike Patel had known Devsaab personally and shared some interesting tidbits of their time with the star. Razdan recalled Devsaab’s first visit to Atlanta in 1995, during the Golden Jubilee celebration that showcased a film festival at the Woodruff Arts Center. Razdan, who served as President of NFIA at the time, noted that the star insisted on meeting and greeting all the attendees. The most remarkable revelation was that Devsaab actually decided to cast one of the volunteers as the heroine for his movie in the making. Razdan said that the volunteer declined the offer but recommended someone else who did in fact act in the movie.
Mike Patel recollected a more recent meeting with the star when he hosted an event to promote Devsaab’s book “Romancing with Life” in Atlanta. Mike Patel said they took Devsaab to Tampa festival and while in SFO, the star apparently expressed his desire to ride a Rolls Royce. And Bobby Patel, being the resourceful man that he is, managed to fulfill his desire!
Raja Ghale, Uma Majmudar, Billy Camp, Derothy Smith , Uma Majmudar, Tej Khurana, Aslam Pervez reminisced Devsaab’s distinguished personality, everyone in agreement that there will never be a replacement to the flamboyant star. Indeed they don’t make them like dear Devsaab anymore. He was an institution, be it his mischievous eyes, a heartwarming smile, a perennially cheerful soul and a never say die attitude that captured the hearts of millions across the globe. All his exuberance aside, Devsaab’s innocence and vulnerability that was never well hidden were charming additions to his illustrious career and personality. The “Evergreen” title endowed upon Devsaab is so apt and perfectly befitting.
Mustafa Ajmeri thanked everyone in the audience, his team, performers along with Shiv Aggarwal for the event space. The night ended on a high note with Mustafaji encouraging all singers and audience to sing “Main zindagi ka saath”. Ajmeriji’s soulful tribute “Dil Aaj Shaayar Hain” truly encapsulated the essence of Devsaab in more ways than one. A homage his diehard fans could be proud of and would have Devsaab in high spirits! Can you see him smile? Yes, eternally. R.I.P Devsaab.