Bollywood filmmakers remember the cinematic genius Guru Dutt

At a recent event, noted filmmakers shared their thoughts on Guru Dutt and lessons to be learnt from his life

As the three books of screenplay of Guru Dutt’s films by Dinesh Raheja and Jeetu Kothari were launched in the city on Monday, four renowned filmmakers came together to compare notes on the cinematic genius. Excerpts from their conversation…

From left: Vidhu Vinod Chopra, Dibakar Banerjee, Farhan Akhtar and Anurag Kashyap and (inset)  Dinesh Raheja pic/ yogen shah
From left: Vidhu Vinod Chopra, Dibakar Banerjee, Farhan Akhtar and Anurag Kashyap and (below)  Dinesh Raheja. Pic/Yogen shah

Farhan Akhtar
My introduction to Guru Dutt was also through Pyaasa, thanks to my mother (Honey Irani). What sustains is his relevance, in terms of subject material, social conscience… When you hear his songs like Yeh duniya agar mil bhi jaaye toh kya hai or Jinhe naaz hai hind, you realise he spoke about issues that are relevant even today.

And of course, he was technically superior. I am told that he introduced the track trolley in Kagaz Ke Phool. He managed to use that vision to enhance the story instead of using it as a gimmick.

In the Kitni baatein yaad aati hai track for Lakshya, we had a single source of light shining on the bunker where Priety (Zinta) was sitting. That is influenced by his way of thinking. He taught us to stay true to a moment. It doesn’t matter if it is a slow song, the moment will sustain if you make it poignant enough.

Anurag Kashyap
I happened to watch his film Pyaasa first. What struck me the most is that he spoke in the layman’s language. That was a big surprise for me and kind of strengthened me. The images in his movies were a strong influence too. Guru Dutt played with light, mood, emotions… his language of storytelling was so unlike other filmmakers. After Pyaasa, I was curious to know who shot the film and wrote those lines. No other film had made me so curious.

Dibakar Banerjee
The people in Guru Dutt’s films stay with you, so do the music and visuals. Often we see cinema, music and visuals going their own way, but not with his films. When he was alive and making films, there were no sessions like this where people acknowledged and appreciated his work. He didn’t know he was being accepted as someone whose made significant contributions to the industry. So the big lesson to be learnt is that it is okay to be rejected. Saheb, Biwi Aur Ghulam was inspired from a Bengali bestseller. Here was this Kannadiga who came to Bombay to make a Hindi film based on a Bengali book. So, this generation of filmmakers needs to learn to read books first.

Vidhu Vinod Chopra
For me, Guru Dutt’s films and his personality go hand in hand. He stood by his conviction. I spoke to Dev Anand at length about him, and he told me he (Guru Dutt) was a broken man after Kagaz Ke Phool failed, but he never stopped believing in himself and didn’t make any compromises. Box office results didn’t matter to him or his way of making his next film.

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