The Life and Times of Guru Dutt: He Became the Tragic Characters he Portrayed Onscreen – III

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Samina concludes the three-part series on Guru Dutt, with his life and times. The boundaries between the reel and real life blurred. Here’s a tribute to the tragic hero, both on and off screen, in the weekly column, exclusively in Different Truths.

Tang aa chuke hein kashma kash-e- zindagi se hum

Thukra dein jahaan ko kahin bedili se hum…

Guru Dutt became a victim of despair, self-inflicted destruction, and sorrow and left his ones shocked saddened helpless and shattered, when he was found dead mysteriously, in his apartment on 10th 1964. He drank excessively to overcome rejection and dejection.

Having spent a major part of his formative years in Calcutta, he won a scholarship to study at Uday Shankar’s Indian Cultural Centre, in Almorah, and discovered the euphoric pleasure of the performing arts. In one of the essays I had read, “To amuse his young siblings, Guru Dutt would powder his face, tie a cloth around him like a dhoti or a saree and imitate the actors he had seen at Bengali Jatras”. Also inspired and influenced by his uncle B B Benegal, who was a commercial artist, who used to also paint many film hoardings in Calcutta, he learned the nuances of arts and aesthetics. In fact, inspired by painting on of a snake coiled around a human form, Guru Dutt choreographed a snake dance. Such was his passion at an early and he evolved into one of the most creative filmmaker in the Indian cine industry.

A name synonymous with passion, romance, intensity, Guru Dutt was a man of perfection, an actor par excellence, who would drive a person to deliver their best as an artiste and emote the thirsty, pained lover and poet in Pyaasa with as much depth, as a passionate lover besotted by his wife’s beauty in Chadhvin ka Chand with as much depth, to a kind hearted, wide eyed Gulam, close confidante to his mysterious yet complex Chhoti Bahu, who desired and yearned for love in Sahib Bibi aur Gulam. Here was an actor whose expressions and eyes could emote more than any words. He could be a hearted Romeo, teasing his paramour with a subtle crooked smile and a glint in his eyes in films like Aar Paar and Mr. and Mrs. 55, and also be a poet crucified by the injustices of the wicked world of the fake, greedy and ruthless.

His films spoke of human emotion be it be Baazi or Pyaasa or even Aar Paar, with humour, depth and reality, with paradox and mystery. There were real situations and every character had many layer. A protagonist could be victim and a hero. Love, attraction, trust, infatuation, desire, deceit and humiliation created characters, which everyone could identify with. An important character, which was symbolic of goodness of a friend, a narrator or even hope,

An absolute romantic by , he could sensitively portray love, but his expressions in many songs reflect his yearning he sought even in his personal life, where his with his wife, the talented Geeta Dutt fell apart, as they fell prey to the glamour, glitz and also possessiveness of Guru Dutt, as a husband. Yet in his innumerable letters to his wife, when he was travelling or she was visiting her mother, he expresses love and passion, yearning intimacy for her and love for his children. He fell in love with his prodigy and torn between his wife and love for the other woman led to an instability in his personal life and completely destroyed the fabric of love he so beautifully expounded in his films.


 ©Samina Naqvi

Photos from the internet.

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Samina Naqvi

Samina Naqvi

Samina Naqvi, educator, teacher trainer and motivator, uses education as an instrument for change. She believes in adventure, romance and living life to the fullest. Watches and analyses films, understands people's perception. Loves to travel, read, and meet people from different sociocultural backgrounds, integrating communities. She is free spirited and enjoys her freedom to live life on her terms. She also believes that the youth needs to be guided to create a better tomorrow.
Samina Naqvi