It was around the release of Dev Anand’s Gangster in the mid-90s when a debate started in the group of young movie buffs about a fascinating case related to Dev and a ban imposed upon him for wearing a black coat/suit by the court. It wasn’t anything to be blindly believed in, as it seemed to be a rumour probably spread for a movie’s publicity in Dev’s prime years.
So, where the majority didn’t believe it, a few were more than interested in assuming it to be a fact, idolising their favourite evergreen icon. A couple of years later, a reputed Hindi film magazine G Star published the same question in its popular section, “Aapne Poochha Hai”, wherein a reader asked whether this ban was a true incident in the past? The answer published was “Yeh kori bakwas hai!”
After more than a decade, Dev Anand released his autobiography titled “Romancing with Life” in September 2007 and made a clear mention of it with a strong denial while talking about his film Kala Pani. The icon also mentioned the same in his press interviews given at the time of the release. However, since the world was swiftly moving towards an entirely different digital era, maybe that remained the reason many young and the old didn’t get to read Dev’s confession in the book, which got proved in the coming years.
In the second decade of the new millennium, the same news of Dev getting banned by the court — not allowed to wear a black coat/suit was repeatedly published on many reputed websites, including the sites of national newspapers. Later, many YouTube videos also got uploaded by various channels, saying the same thing as an amazing fact related to the successful career of Dev Anand.
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To see the magnitude of this news posted all over the internet in the last decade or so, just type ‘Dev Anand banned for wearing black’ in any search engine and see the names in the list of results, including web portals, blogs, and videos, both in English and Hindi.
No doubt they all assumed it to be a fact as anything repeated till decades easily gets considered being true without any detailed study or research. The questionable scenario also proved that, in reality, none of the creators of these articles, blogs, and YouTube videos had read the icon’s autobiography in which he had wittingly called this rumour ‘A stupid myth’.
Sharing his expressions, Dev writes in his autobiography that Kala Pani became memorable for various reasons. The film brought in Dev’s first Filmfare trophy for the Best Actor along with the Best Supporting Actress award for Nalini Jaywant, and they both received their awards from Al-Nasser, the late president of Egypt.
The icon further adds, “Kala Pani also gave the world a story about me that has been circulating amongst my fans ever since — that I am forbidden to wear black, for women swoon when they see me dressed in that colour. A stupid myth! But I went along with it, humouring my fans. The yarn, perhaps, originated from the fact that I wore black throughout Kala Pani, as the son (in the film) had sworn to himself that he would always be dressed in black, until the time he freed his innocent father; from the clutches of the law.”
So despite such a huge clarification from the man himself, the myth continued to get published as a fact, openly adding to the stupidity, validating Dev Anand’s intelligent choice of words. That is, in fact, the sad reality of the present era we are living in, surrounded by fake news and unaware forwards, without any responsible fact check of our own.
(The writer is a critic-columnist, an explorer of cinema and author of ‘Did You Know’ series on Hindi films also active at )
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