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Light and shadow

hollywood Updated: Jul 23, 2011 14:10 IST

Hindustan Times
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In Search of Guru Dutt
Shemaroo, Rs 399
Rating: ***1/2

First come the paeans while memorable shots from Sahib, Bibi aur Ghulam, Kagaz ke Phool and Pyaasa play out on the screen. "Visionary", "had the passion of a young man in love", "a genius with music", say people who knew Guru Dutt closely. Then comes the view of the artist as a young man. Mother Vasanthi Padukone recalls him as being impulsive, stubborn and short-tempered. "I went mad sometimes answering his myriad questions," she adds.

In a way, this documentary is a logical progression of the two-decade-long project on the actor-director-producer that’s been taken forward by Nasreen Munni Kabir, the London-based director and scholar who has authored Guru Dutt: A Life in Cinema and edited a selection of his letters. In this film, Nasreen tries to outline the man and the artist in between the diverse views he inspired. What emerges is an aspiring artist who was often conscious of his short-comings, a passionate man who lived more by his heart, and an empathetic professional who pushed his team to technical brilliance.

The portrait is a complex one, with tensions similar to what Dutt’s black-and-white chiaroscuro photography evoked on screen. With great music playing at the back all the time, no one’s complaining of all the shades of grey.