Published On: Sat, Jul 9th, 2016

Remembering Guru Dutt, on his 91th birth anniversary today.

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Remembering Guru Dutt, on his 91th birth anniversary today.

Remembering Guru Dutt, one of the greatest filmmakers of Indian cinema, on his 91th birth anniversary today.

A man ahead of his time, Guru Dutt is among the few artistes who have made a mark in the history of Indian cinema. An actor, director, producer and also a choreographer, this man was perhaps the most brilliant package of talent we ever had. In a very short span of time, he was able to achieve renown and, with his contemporary Satyajit Ray, was ranked among the greats of global moviemakers.

Guru Dutt is now named along with the masters of world cinema—like Orson Welles, Mizoguchi, Hitchcock, Jancso, Ophuls—for his innovative cinematic form and his deep humanism and compassion.

Dutt’s movies have acquired a cult following, and influenced whole generations of Indian filmmakers and audiences.

Considered to be a man ahead of his time, Guru Dutt was one of the greatest icons of commercial Indian cinema. Although he made less than fifty films, they are believed to be the best to come from Bollywood’s Golden Age, known both for their ability to reach out to the common man and for their artistic and lyrical content, and they went on to become trend-setters that have influenced Bollywood ever since. But for all his genius, there was a shroud of tragedy that overshadowed his career and life.

Dutt was born in Mysore on July ninth, 1925, the eldest son of a headmaster and a housewife who was a part-time writer. He did not have a good childhood: he had to deal with a strained relationship between his parents, hostility from his mother’s family, and the death of a close relative. He received his early education in Calcutta, and in 1941, he joined the Uday Shankar India Culture Center, where he received basic training in the performing arts under dance maestro Uday Shankar. Afterward, in 1944, he had a short stint as a telephone operator.

Dutt entered the Indian film industry in 1944, working as a choreographer in Prabhat Studios. There, he became friends with Dev Anand (whom he met when they worked on the film Hum Ek Hain (1946)) and Rehman. These early friendships helped ease his way into Bollywood. After Prabhat went under in 1947, Dutt moved to Mumbai, where he worked with the leading directors of the time: Amiya Chakrabarty in Girls’ School(1949) and Gyan Mukherjee in Sangram (1946).

He got his big break when Dev Anand invited him to direct a film in his newly formed company Navketan Films. Dutt made his directorial debut with Baazi (1951), which starred Dev Anand. The film was an urban crime thriller that paid homage to classic film noir. However, it also carried its own elements that ensured it was not a remake of a Hollywood film: notably, songs were used to further the story’s narrative, and close-up shots were used frequently. The film was a success and became a trend-setter for future crime films. On the personal front, Dutt met his wife, playback singer Geeta Dutt (née Roy), during the song-recording sessions of Baazi (1951), and they married May twenty-sixth, 1953.

Dutt’s next releases were Jaal (1952) and Baaz (1953). Dutt made his acting debut in the latter film, which he also directed. But while they were average successes, he finally tasted success with Aar-Paar (1954), another crime thriller, but with a far more polished story and look. Then came Mr. & Mrs. ’55 (1955), a frothy romantic comedy focusing on women’s’ rights; and C.I.D. (1956), yet another crime thriller in whichWaheeda Rehman made her debut.

His next films, Pyaasa (1957) and Kaagaz Ke Phool (1959), are regarded as his best work. Pyaasa (1957) was his masterpiece, about a poet trying to achieve success in a hypocritical, uncaring world. It was a box-office hit and is ranked as his greatest film ever. In contrast, Kaagaz Ke Phool (1959) was a miserable flop at the box office: the semiautobiographical story of a tragic love affair set against the backdrop of the film industry was deemed too morbid for the audience to swallow and went right over audience’s heads. Although in later years the film received critical acclaim for its cinematography and has gained a cult following, Dutt, who had put his soul into the film, was devastated over its failure and never directed another film.

Although he had sworn off directing, Dutt continued to produce and act in films, notably the period dramas Full Moon (1961) and Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam (1962). The latter film, interestingly, is controversial because it is debated whether Dutt had ghost-directed the film. Dutt’s personal life had become complicated: he had gotten romantically involved with his protégé Waheeda Rehman and his wife Geeta Dutt had separated from him as a result. Rehman too had distanced herself from him. Also, Dutt, an ambitious person, felt he had achieved too much too soon professionally – there was nothing better to be achieved, and this caused a vacuum in his life. Unable to cope with all the trauma and emptiness, he took to heavy drinking.

On October tenth, 1964, Dutt was found dead in his bed. The cause of death was deemed a combination of alcohol and sleeping pills, although a debate still lingers over whether his death was by accident or a successful suicide attempt. Geeta Dutt suffered a nervous break-down as a result of his death and also took to alcohol, eventually drinking herself to death, dying in 1972 as a result of cirrhosis of the liver.

His death was an irreplacable loss to Indian cinema. And it was a tragic twist of fate that his films, most of which were discounted in his life-time, would be regarded as cult classics after his death. Guru Dutt would always be known, even if posthumously, as the Guru of Bollywood’s Golden Age and one of the world’s most important international auteurs.

Remembering Guru Dutt, one of the greatest filmmakers of Indian cinema, on his 91th birth anniversary today.

Guru Dutt giving the clap for muhurat shot of the film ‘Kaise Kahoon’.

‘Kaise Kahoon’ (1964) was the first film directed by Atma Ram, younger brother of actor/director Guru Dutt.

‘Kaise Kahoon’ had Biswajit and Nanda in lead roles. The film also had Rehman, Om Parkesh, Naaz, Nimabalkar, Manmohan, Geetanjali, Asit Sen and Durga Khote.

The film’s music was composed by Sachin Dev burman.

News Source IMDB

About the Author

Syed Ammar Alavi

- is Lahore (Pakistan) based journalist & writer with 25-year experience in print, wire and broadcast forms of journalism. His major fields of interest are politics, film,tv,sports, climate change and technology

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