Film stars are never easy to deal with. When it comes to knowing about their personal and professional lives, it takes quite a knack for getting access to their royal lifestyles.
In the 60s and 70s, film journalists were getting accustomed to the world of celebrities; entertainment had then become a new “thing to talk about”. However, there were only a handful of journalists, who used to write about the comprehensive versions of gossips.
Devyani Chaubal, or Devi as she was fondly called by those close to her, was one such columnist. She created a fuss through her immensely popular gossip column “Frankly Speaking”, in a popular film magazine known as Star and Style.
It is believed that until her arrival, Indian film journalism had been largely free of accusation and scandal.
She was the first film journalist to have referred to Rajesh Khanna as a “Superstar”. It was the word which propelled Khanna to cult status and stuck with him for the rest of his life.
As per an article in TOI, “Devi and Kaka shared an intense love-hate relationship, and she died taking several of his best-guarded secrets with her. But as one of the few constants in his turbulent and troubled life, Devi was perhaps the only woman he tolerated for several years as a part of his inner circle.”
Devyani was the first writer to use ‘Hinglish’ in her works, with words like “badans” (bodies) and “kachra” (garbage). Shobha De would subsequently start introducing more ‘Hinglish’ elements in her novels.
During the day, Devyani would incessantly roam the studios. She would collect information and write about them in her fortnightly column.
She had a strange power in her pen which ruined the spotless identities of many stars. She not only wrote about their careers and personal lives but also about underlying intrigues and conspiracies.
In fact, her juicy notes on Hema Malini and Dharmendra’s sultry affair didn’t leave the latter very amused. The ‘He-Man’, after downing some “Patiala Pegs”, went after Devyani and rained a few punches.
Devyani’s way of life, however, led to a paralytic stroke in 1985 which restricted her to a wheelchair and, later, to bed. But, barring a few weeks of discomfort, she continued to write her column, which never lost its chutzpah.
Impeccable and always dressed in a white sari, Devyani remained an important part of Bollywood, breaking idols, bringing them down to ground level with a visible noise.