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Guru Dutt's retrospective in New York: A perspective on his oeuvre

October 8, 2009 3:46:35 PM IST
Enkayaar, Bollywood Trade News Network
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It indeed is a fascinating time for the Indian cinema as one of its biggest masters Guru Dutt's oeuvre is being celebrated as a part of salutation to his genius. If there was one single person who introduced urbanism into the world of Hindi cinema in the early sixties, Guru Dutt's name would emerge at the top. He was a man who established the mood of melodrama into the world of Indian cinema and the same spirit continues to be the predominant motif of the films being made to this date.

May be New York is celebrating a retrospective of Guru Dutt, owing to the fact that he was greatly influenced by the Hollywood style of film making characterized by melodrama having its applicability in a subtle manner in facilitating the flow of the narrative. The modernist approach to his film making characterized by a comic flair, and penchant for going for a dance at the top of the hat was what characterized the cinema of 60s of Hollywood and this is what his leitmotif became as well. It all started with AAR PAAR in 1954 followed by MR AND MRS 55 in 1995. In the real sense of terms MR AND MRS. 55 was the real urban film as the lead character in this film portrayed by Guru Dutt himself was that of a cartoonist. No such characterization was attempted ever again by any actor in the Hindi film.

Guru Dutt was a genius who had the ability to use comedy in a subtle manner to laugh at the social norms of the world but without trampling on the foot of the entrenched moorings and beliefs of the society. Guru Dutt by his interpretation of modern characters was trying in his own way to create a sense of euphoria about the spirit of freedom that was pervading in the country and the sepia toned expectations about the dawn of an era of modernity for the country.

It was also to the credit of Guru Dutt that through PYAASA he was able to again bring on to the screen a character of poet who tries to earn out his livelihood by reciting poetry. PYAASA also was a landmark in the sense that it brought in stark relief the dissipation of the dreams of modernity that an Independent India had aspired for and underlined the fact that India indeed was again going back to the era of deceit and treachery. The lyrics Jinhe naaz hai Hind par wo kaha hain written by Sahir Ludhianvi captured in poignancy the situation that the country was experiencing.

The same kind of questions Guru Dutt continued to ask through KAGAZ KE PHOOL as well. The recognition that film industry has attained today is in stark contrast to the notions that average Indian had about the Hindi film industry in the sixties, and it could not escape his eagle eyes. The dichotomous hypocrisy could not have been achieved in such succinct detail by anybody else but Guru Dutt.

May be with this retrospective the world of cinema would be able to recognize his enormous talent and provide him the posthumous accolade that he richly deserves.

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