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HindustanTimes Sun,21 Sep 2014

Tribute to filmmaker Guru Dutt

Hindustan Times   October 10, 2011
First Published: 18:01 IST(10/10/2011) | Last Updated: 18:12 IST(10/10/2011)

It is the 47th (died in 1964) death anniversary of iconic filmmaker, Guru Dutt. Known for a symbolic use of shadows in his films, he is often credited with ushering in the golden era of Indian cinema.

Dutt carved a niche for himself in the 1950s and 1960s with classics like Pyaasa, Kaagaz ke Phool, Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam and Chaudhvi Ka Chaand. His films underscored his creative and personal angst and Pyaasa and Kaagaz Ke Phool in many ways had very strong autobiographical traits. His Pyaasa was rated as one of the best 100 films of all time by the Time Magazine.

Born as Vasanth Kumar Shivashankar Padukone in Bangalore on July 9, 1925. He had his early education in Calcutta before undergoing basic training with dance maestro Uday Shankar, the older brother of the better-known Ravi Shankar, after which he joined Prabhat Studios. It was here that he got a break as a choreographer with the film Hum Ek Hain (1946), the launch pad of friend and actor Dev Anand.  

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From Prabhat Guru Dutt moved on to Famous Studios and then on to Bombay Talkies. Meanwhile in 1949, his close friend from Prabhat, Dev Anand, (now a star) had launched his own banner, Navketan and invited Guru Dutt to direct a film for him. Thus 1951 saw the release of Baazi, Guru Dutt's directorial debut. The film starring Dev Anand, Geeta Bali and Kalpana Kartik was a trendsetter, regarded as the forerunner of the spate of urban crime films that followed in Bollywood in the 1950s.

Guru Dutt and singer Geeta Roy met during the song recording of Baazi and fell in love. The two married in May 1953. Baaz in 1953 saw Guru Dutt make his debut as leading man and he went on to act as well as direct.

Aar Paar released in 1954 establishing Guru Dutt as a director to reckon with. Then followed some of his best works Mr and Mrs 55 (1955), Pyaasa (1957) and Kaagaz ke Phool (1959).

Pyaasa was Guru Dutt's real masterpiece. It tells of the thirst for love, for recognition, for spiritual fulfillment.

Kaagaz ke Phool, India's first ever film in cinemascope, was a dismal failure at the box office. He had invested a great deal of love, money, and energy in this film, which was a self-absorbed tale of a famous director (played by Guru Dutt) who falls in love with an actress (played by Waheeda Rehman, Dutt's real-life love interest). A dejected Guru Dutt never directed a film thereafter. Technically the film is perhaps his best.

Guru Dutt continued to produce films and act in both home and outside productions. But never again did he give his name in the credits as director again.

Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam (1962), a box office flop, was directed by his protege, writer Abrar Alvi, which won him the Filmfare Best Director's award. The film also went to the Berlin Film Festival and was India's official entry for the Oscars. Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam is still regarded as one of Guru Dutt's most and artistic films.

Guru Dutt also has his influence on his last box office success Chaudhvin Ka Chand. In 1964 he acted in his last film Sanjh Aur Savera opposite Meena Kumari.

 Guru Dutt discovered, and mentored, Johnny Walker (comedian), VK Murthy (cinematography), and Abrar Alvi (writing and directing), among others. He is also credited for introducing Waheeda Rehman to the Hindi cinema. Themes of his films aside, Guru Dutt has also brought in some major technical revolutions in the grammar of the mainstream Hindi filmmaking. Guru Dutt had a knack of integrating the film's songs into the story and make the story move forward even through the song. Guru Dutt used the effect of light and shade to to create poetry and romance. Guru Dutt also revolutionalized the close up shot.

His legacy is unmistakable and accepted by many leading directors of the day. His personal life was in shambles though. He had separated from his wife allegedly due to his involvement with his discovery and leading actress Waheeda Rehman and on October 10, 1964 he took an overdose of sleeping pills and committed suicide though doubts still linger as if his death was accidental.

(With inputs from News Tomorrow)

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