‘Guru Dutt was unable to express love’

The idea is to preserve the entire written material of Pyaasa — the poetic dialogues of Abrar Alvi and Sahir Ludhianvi’s stirring songs and poems.

Written by Harneet Singh | Published:January 30, 2011 1:43 am

Nasreen Munni Kabir’s latest book is yet another attempt to make Guru Dutt and his classic Pyaasa accessible to film lovers of all generations

What does The Dialogue of Pyaasa,offer to a film lover?

The idea is to preserve the entire written material of Pyaasa — the poetic dialogues of Abrar Alvi and Sahir Ludhianvi’s stirring songs and poems. It was important to include Sahir’s voice because in many ways he was the soul and Guru Dutt was the body. To make The Dialogue of Pyaasa (Om Books International; Rs 495) accessible to all film lovers,the dialogues are presented in Urdu,Hindi,English and Roman Urdu. There are screen shots from the film,with an extensive introduction and commentary on it.

What is the immortal value in Pyaasa?

The theme is universal — greed,love,dejection,rejection,creative angst,unrequited love — concern every generation. Two years back,there was a screening of Pyaasa in Japan with Japanese subtitles and the audience was thoroughly moved. No wonder Time magazine rates it as one of the 100 best films of all times. A lot of Pyaasa is the songs. We tend to dismiss the importance of songs,but actually they are original creative moments. In Pyaasa’ s case,the song express Vijay’s (Guru Dutt’s character) being.

Did you come across anything startling about the film during your research?

Yes,I noticed that all the important exchanges between Vijay and Gulab (Waheeda Rahman) are on the staircase. Dutt interprets the staircase symbolically — it’s a public space where a prostitute and a poet can meet. In the song Aaj Sajan Mohe Ang Laga Lo,Gulab is going up the stairs which is to convey the higher expression of love. In the end,she comes running down the stairs to meet Vijay.

You’ve done extensive research on Guru Dutt in your documentary,In Search of Guru Dutt. What are your impressions about him?

He was deeply troubled and disillusioned with people and life. While Sahir’s disenchantment was more political in nature,Dutt’s was humanitarian. Director Raj Khosla had once said,“Guru Dutt was unable to express love so he put it in his movies.” He knew his cinema. For the song Sun sun sun zaalima in Aar Paar,he requested lyricist Majrooh Sultanpuri to use the word ‘humko’ . Majrooh felt this was grammatically wrong — if it was suno then humko made sense. Dutt told him,“Log gaana sunte hain… wahan koi tumhari grammar check nahin karega.” (People listen to the song. No one will judge your grammar there.) And so we got the lines,pyaar humko tumse ho gaya. But in the last year of his life,he was unable to cope and was living alone,having separated from his wife and kids.

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