Guru Dutt, an unparalleled genius showman Indian Cinema has ever come across, was an enigma in his life and death. He showed exceptional movie making skills which combined, lyrical, artistic and conventional values in such a way that his movies touched both the masses and the critics in the same way at the same time.
His characters were intense, brooding and desperate romantics and also socially conscious who wanted to see a change in the society. Unfortunately, this talented showman did not live his life to the full term, depriving Indian Cinema more of his commendable movies.
Let us have look at some known facts about the legendary icon of Indian Cinema.
Movie lovers of today would be surprised to know that Guru Dutt shared his surname with one of the most popular actress – Deepika Padukone, though they do not share any relationships. Guru Dutt birth name was Vasanth Kumar Shivsankar Padukone and he hailed from Karnataka.
Due to financial restraints, instead of going to college, Guru Dutt had joined the performing arts troupe of Uday Shankar who is elder brother of renowned Sitar Maestro Ravi Shankar.
Before becoming a part of Indian Cinema, Guru Dutt had short stints with careers in choreography, telephone operator position and English writer.
Kalpana Lajmi is the daughter of Guru Dutt’s younger sister, Lalitha Lajmi. He is also related Dada Saheb Phalke award winner Shyam Benegal whose paternal grandmother was sister of Guru Dutt’s maternal grandmother. His son Tarun Dutt is well known director and his grand-daughter Gauri Dutt is an upcoming Bollywood actress.
Guru Dutt has received great recognition in the countries of France, Japan and Germany, where his films are re-released to full houses.
Guru Dutt gave to Indian cinema the close-up shot which also known as Guru Dutt shot earlier. He also introduced songs that gave narration of a story, which went on to become popular in all regional languages of Indian Cinema.
Kaagaz Ke Phool., a film rejected by Indian audience has now been included among 160 greatest films of all time. Pyaasa is the other film listed by Time magazine’s “All-TIME” 100 best movies and the Sight &Sound Critics and Directors Pol. These two films have a cult following among contemporary cinema goers.
Guru Dutt is among the top 25 Asian Actors of all time rated by CNN. He also is included among the greatest film directors of all time by Sight & Sound. Many refer to him as Orson Welles of Indian Cinema.
Guru Dutt died at a young age of 39 due to overdose of sleeping pills and alcohol – a deadly mix. Unfortunately, his wife Geeta Dutt herself died aged 41, due to excessive drinking which resulted in her liver damage. The last person to speak to Guru Dutt was Asha Bhonsle, who he had called up asking about his wife.
People remember Guru Dutt for the perfectionist and disciplinarian he was professionally. Unfortunately, his personal life was a total opposite of his professional life. He smoked heavily, he drank heavily, and he kept odd hours, which finally took its toll on his relationships and life itself.
Guru Dutt had a traumatic childhood which included conflicts between his parents, hostility from his maternal uncle’s family and also scary encounters he had with his adopted maternal uncle who was considered insane. Could this tragic childhood be related to his destructive personality in adulthood?
Guru Dutt left many unfinished projects with his death. He would scrap a movie and re-plan it all over again whenever he was not satisfied with the way it was moving ahead. Baharein Phir Bhi Aayenghi, Picnic and Love and God were few among them.
None of the film pundits could predict the success of Pyaasa, which is ranked among the best films of Indian Cinema. The original casts decided by Guru Dutt were Dilip Kumar, Nargis and Madhubala in the lead roles, but these stars were not sure about the abilities of Guru Dutt and hence backed off. Finally he cast himself in the lead role, while Waheeda Rehman and Mala Sinha played the lady leads in the film. After opening to poor collection, the film gained popularity and momentum in the 8th week. Another perfectionist of Bollywood, Amir Khan, ranks Pyaasa as his most favorite film.