On Guru Dutt’s 96th birth anniversary: Why the Master of Gloom fascinates us even today


Guru Dutt was born on at the present time in 1925 and died in 1964, at the age of 39. Between the a long time which have whizzed by, the Pyaasa auteur’s status has solely soared to unimaginable heights. Time has been type to him, because it normally is to nice artists, from Vincent van Gogh to Heath Ledger — lives and careers that had been snuffed out younger prompting them to fall head-first into the mysterious and undefinable trenches of fantasy. In Hindi cinema, the Fifties is taken into account to be the Golden Age and even in an period dominated by such forces as Raj Kapoor, V Shantaram, Bimal Roy, Dilip Kumar, Dev Anand, B R Chopra and Mehboob Khan, the identify ‘Guru Dutt’ was spoken with respect. Of course, like the filmmaker he’s most frequently in comparison with — Orson Welles — Dutt’s work began getting its due solely after his tragic demise. But one assumes that the trade of its time will need to have taken notice of Guru Dutt’s intense obsession along with his artwork and unparalleled makes an attempt at making movies his manner. So unmistakably inventive they’re, full of superb music and evocative motifs, that you realize it’s a Guru Dutt movie once you see one. Dutt, whose actual identify was Vasanth Kumar Shivashankar Padukone, began out as a choreographer. He met three individuals in the present enterprise who modified his life — for higher or worse, we’ll by no means know. One was Dev Anand. Dutt and Anand’s friendship goes again to the time when the latter, not but a giant star, was appearing in Hum Ek Hain (1946). The newcomer Dutt was a choreographer in the identical movie. The two met by chance sooner or later at the Prabhat Film Studio in Pune when Anand noticed Dutt carrying his shirt. The laundryman, it appears, had despatched Dev Anand’s shirt to the unsuitable man. The duo had a hearty snort over the confusion and have become good buddies quickly afterwards — a lot in order that Anand promised Dutt that if he ever turned producer he would rent Dutt as a director and Dutt would return the favour by casting his good-looking buddy as a hero at any time when he donned the producer’s hat. As historical past would show, they saved their phrase.

Easy, Breezy Charm

Dev Anand’s Navketan Films launched Guru Dutt as a director with Baazi in 1951. Established by the Anand brothers, the banner had earlier made Afsar helmed by Chetan Anand. Baazi was extraordinary for one apparent purpose: it was a coming collectively of a quantity of sensible abilities. Sahir Ludhianvi on lyrics and SD Burman’s compositions, Geeta Dutt’s voice, Balraj Sahni as its scriptwriter, Zohra Sehgal as choreographer and Raj Khosla as assistant. Stylishly shot alongside the strains of Hollywood noir with low-key lighting and set in the world of city crime, the movie blazed the tone for future Navketan templates. Besides proving himself as an ace director with a superb command over each suspense and romance, Dutt’s reward for songs was one thing that was on ample show in Baazi. It was adopted by Jaal in 1952. Once once more starring Dev Anand and Geeta Bali, the crime drama was impressed by the Italian neorealist hit Bitter Rice (1949) and featured the rising romantic male star as an anti-hero, one of the first that will come to outline Dev Anand as a captivating city drifter. It is gloomy however not precisely puzzling that Dutt’s greatest and breeziest of movies someway get misplaced in the soulfully self-destructive glamour of his infinitely extra widespread Pyaasa (1957) and Kaagaz Ke Phool (1959).

Guru Dutt and Waheeda Rehman is a nonetheless from Pyaasa. (Photo: Express Archives)

In Aar-Paar (1954), Dutt performs an ex-convict who takes up a job as a taxi-driver to achieve some respectability and marry his girl love, Nikki (Shyama). But as a substitute, he will get concerned in a felony conspiracy. Mr and Mrs ’55 (1955) sees him pair up with the ethereal Madhubala. We have seen the wealthy heiress-poor hero trope earlier than, maybe the mom of this setup is Frank Capra’s It Happened One Night (1934). So whereas not fully authentic, Mr and Mrs ’55 nonetheless manages to offer the viewers a superb time. Particularly, the glowing chemistry between Madhubala and Dutt is one of the many veritable charms of the movie, other than the timeless music (‘Udhar tum haseen ho’, ‘Jaane kahan mera jigar gaya jee’ and ‘Thandi hawa.’) Both Aar-Paar and Mr and Mrs ’55 have a frothy soundtrack, in OP Nayyar’s trademark upbeat fashion. In these romcoms, Guru Dutt, who is called a grasp of gloom today, seems relaxed with simply taking part in a personality with out burdening it with an excessive amount of baggage — the thinly-veiled autobiographical, extra private model of self-pity married to poetic sensibility would come later. It’s in all probability a good guess that Dev Anand would have been a super selection for such elements, however watching Aar-Paar and Mr and Mrs ’55 today you may’t think about anybody else as cabbie Kalu and Pritam, the proficient cartoonist (is he a cartoonist or a communist, the veteran Lalita Pawar asks him at one level). Dutt is immensely likeable in these entertaining outings, possibly extra so in hindsight as a result of we all know that Pyaasa and Kaagaz Ke Phool will without end paint him as cinema’s final struggling soul.

Guru Dutt, Guru Dutt birth anniversary, Guru Dutt films, Pyaasa, Pyaasa songs, guru dutt pyaasa Several Bollywood filmmakers proceed to be impressed by Guru Dutt’s films. (Photo: Express Archives)

Saint of Sadness

Dutt was no nice actor and he had no illusions of it both. That’s why he had first approached a very nice actor for Pyaasa. Dilip Kumar initially stated ‘yes,’ solely to again out ultimately. Years later, the thespian regretted it. Dutt reportedly chased him proper until the finish. When Kumar, who handed away at 98 on July 7, didn’t present up on the units Dutt had no selection however to place himself into the position of the down-and-out poet Vijay. The bleak outlook of the movie, mirrored most powerfully in Sahir Ludhianvi’s rousing lyrics, didn’t tie in with the common temper of a newly impartial India however over the a long time, that is one basic that has been seldom out of circulation. Filmmakers like Anurag Kashyap, Sudhir Mishra, Tigmanshu Dhulia and lots of others have saved its flame burning. Kashyap, for one, was so fired up by Ludhianvi’s ‘Yeh duniya agar mil bhi jaaye’ — even in 2021, it’s unlikely that populist cinema would use such a nihilist anthem as its heartbeat — that he made a movie out of it. Gulaal (2009) tried to recreate the identical angst and rejection that you just noticed in Pyaasa. Even Imtiaz Ali’s Rockstar has a Pyaasa hidden inside its rock-and-roll core. The trials and tribulations of Jordan (Ranbir Kapoor) has its ancestor not in Raj Kapoor’s Shree 420 or Mera Naam Joker however in Guru Dutt’s Pyaasa.

And then got here, Kaagaz Ke Phool which, as some say, destroyed Dutt — emotionally, bodily, spiritually and financially. Was the protagonist Suresh Sinha, who’s a annoyed filmmaker at a time when a profession in the films had been frowned upon, a stand-in for Dutt? “Partially, if you join Vijay of Pyaasa and Suresh of Kaagaz Ke Phool you can say it’s Guru Dutt,” his son Arun Dutt advised Wild Films India. More than something, Kaagaz Ke Phool is a meditation on the ephemerality of fame as mirrored in its title and together with Pyaasa, it gave Dutt his enduring picture as a saint of unhappiness, the tortured artist rejected by society and torn by love and keenness. There are different points of his private life that discover expression in it — estranged marriage, a inventive man’s love for his muse, alcoholism and despair. In actual life, Dutt’s marriage with Geeta Dutt was on the rocks. That’s the second particular person he met in the movie world who outlined his life. Last however not the least, Waheeda Rehman. His alleged closeness with Rehman, whom he found in Hyderabad and summoned to Bombay subsequently, has been one of Bollywood’s best-kept secrets and techniques. Describing their separation, Arun Dutt — with out giving an excessive amount of away — known as it “a breaking of trust.”

Now 83, Rehman, one of the final hyperlinks to Bollywood of yore, has all the time maintained a dignified silence about it. Guru Dutt is just not round to demystify it. And so, along with his small however cult physique of work, a brief and troubled life and lots of unanswered questions, Dutt continues to fascinate.


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