Thursday, August 14, 2008

Art: Pyaasa

I posted on this before but it really deserves it's own space. Plus I found this poster I hadn't seen before:

As I've said before, Pyaasa (1957) is probably my favorite film of all time. Guru Dutt was known for his brilliant use of light, song picturization, the ability to move a plot forward during a song, jumping into songs from the last line of dialogue whereas before songs just happened, political commentary in India's infancy, and sneaking "art film" under the masses noses. You could have Satyajit Ray, just leave me Guru Dutt. Sahir Ludhianvi contributes almost as much to the film as Guru Dutt, it's director, producer, and lead actor, with quasi-marxist lyricism that conveys the post-independence gloominess of India. Mohammed Rafi sings as well as he always does. Jinhe Naaz Hai Hind Par Wo Kahaan Hein being the key example of Ludhianvi's political lyricism:

Vijay is a well-educated poet who shuns the money life his peers embrace. He finds a companion in Gulab (Waheeda Rehman), a prostitute from the slums who purchases the poetry his brothers sold as scrap paper. Eventually it's believed he commits suicide and his poetry becomes very popular and profitable. His brothers and former friends, blinded by cash, decide to deny Vijay's claims of being himself and he eventually lands in an insane asylum. When he has the opportunity to reveal his identity to the world, he doesn't.

Waheeda Rehman was an actress Guru Dutt discovered and subsequently had an affair with. After his wife, playback singer Geeta Dutt, left him and Waheeda Rehman distanced herself from him he got pretty sad. He depicts this in Kaagaz Ke Phool, another great film and an autobiography of sorts. Eventually Guru Dutt would become not so different from the characters he played and wrote for himself. On October 10, 1964 India lost one of it's most talented. He was found dead in his bed as a result of mixing alcohol and sleeping pills.

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