That Warm Smile Will Be Missed!- Dipti Naval (an Obituary)

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That Warm Smile Will Be Missed!- Dipti Naval (an Obituary)

Dipti Naval relives her days of working with her friend, Deven Verma

It's one of the saddest days of my life. 

I spoke to Devenji (Deven Varma) only four days ago.

On Friday, I was in Pune, where he stayed. And I thought of visiting him. I was aware that he wasn’t keeping well since the past few months. I called up Rupa (Deven's wife) saying that i would like to catch up with him but she said that he is not in the right frame of health to have a personal meeting.

I decided to speak to him over the phone.

Now, I wish I hadn't called Rupa. I should have just gone and met him. I have lost a friend.

I will never forget that call, which I made to him last Friday.

I started off by telling him that the industry loves him and misses him immensely because hes a brilliant actor and theres no one who can take his place. 

But soon I realised that this was going to be a one-sided conversation. 

I could hear him say only ‘Hmmm, Haan and Accha. I could sense that he was trying to laugh but could not. Clearly, he was in pain. And he was trying to hold his tears but the voice gave it away.

And in the next three three days, he was gone. 

I can't believe that I will never see him again. 

I first met him on the sets of Angoor in the early 80s. Gulzar (director) introduced us to each other. He was rehearsing his lines with Haribhai (Sanjeev Kumar). 

It was a treat to watch him shoot with Haribhai. They were never out of sync. Devenji's timing was impeccable. Gulzaar saab, Moushumiji (Moushumi Chatterjee) and I would be laughing watching them rehearse. Those were the days. That was our first film together. 

Often, he had a naughty smile  on his face. And we knew he was up to some prank.

Over the years, that smile became synonymous with Devenji. Whenever we saw him smiling, we knew yeh kuch karnewale hain. 

We then worked together in films like Kisise Naa Kehna (1983) and Rang Birangi (1983) and our relationship grew stronger. We became really good friends.

Later, he shifted to Pune. Initially, we spoke to each other over the phone once in a while. And then, we lost touch completely. 

About ten years ago, his wife Rupa called. She wanted to have a small show dedicated to him where shed play visuals from his films and have his close colleagues drop in for a chat with him. I had assured her that were all game for it and well be there whenever she decides to have it. But unfortunately, she couldnt find the right window to have the show. I wish she had managed to put it together before he passed away. 

We would at least have had a chance to see that naughty smile, one last time!

As told to Rachana Dubey Sharma)