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Guru Dutt A classic Actor Director



Guru Dutt

Films like Pyasa - Kagaz Ke Phool - Sahib Bibi aur Gulam




Guru Dutt or Vasanth Kumar Shivashankar Padukone (9 July 1925 - 10 October 1964) was an Indian film director, producer and actor. He is often credited with ushering in the golden era of Hindi cinema.

A village in South Kanara district of present day state Karnataka (then Madras Province).
His father was initially a headmaster, and then a bank employee. His mother Vasanthi,
while initially a housewife, later taught in a school, gave private tuition and also wrote
short stories and translated Bengali novels into Kannada. Vasanthi was only 16 when Guru Dutt was born.

Guru Dutt had a tough childhood with financial difficulties, and a strained relationship between his parents. As a child he had some bad experiences; the hostility from his maternal uncle's family, a frightening encounter with his insane maternal adopted uncle, and the death of his seven-month old brother Shashidhar.

Guru Dutt was initially named Vasanth Kumar at birth at the suggestion of his mother's elder brother, but after a childhood accident, he was renamed Guru Dutt, which was felt to be a more auspicious name. He was joined by three younger brothers, Atmaram, Devidas and Vijay and a younger sister, Lalitha. The Indian film director, Kalpana Lajmi, is his sister's daughter.

He spent a great deal of time with his mother's cousin, Balakrishna B. Benegal (known to the family as Bakutmama) who was a painter of cinema posters. The Indian film director, Shyam Benegal, is the son of Sridhar B. Benegal, Balakrishna's younger brother.

Guru Dutt wired home to say he had got the job of a telephone operator at a Lever Brothers factory in Kolkata. But soon he disengaged himself from the job, and joined his parents in Mumbai in 1944.

His sister recalls that at age 14 Guru Dutt would use his fingers to shape images on a wall lit up by the flickering light of their grandmotherís diya as she performed the evening arathi. Though untrained, he could produce inspired movements as he did when he persuaded his uncle, Benegal, to photograph him performing a snake dance, based on a painting by the latter. The snake dance was later performed at a gathering of Saraswat Brahmins at Calcutta for which Guru Dutt was even given a cash prize of 5 Rupees. He was a good student, but never went to college, partly because of financial troubles at home. Instead, he joined the performing arts troupe of Uday Shankar, the older brother of the better-known Ravi Shankar.

The Uday Shankar India Culture Center at Almora taught dance, drama, and music. It aimed at combining the best of the Gurukula system with a modern Arts University, and tried to turn out well-rounded students, at home in many disciplines. A young Guru Dutt joined the center at age 16 in 1941 on a five-year scholarship of Rs. 75 annually (a lot of money then), and studied at Almora until 1944, when the advancing World War II forced the closing of the center.

Guru Dutt spoke fluent Bengali, and carried a distinct stamp of Bengali culture in his work [citation needed]. Later, when he moved to then Bombay now Mumbai in the 1940s, he dropped the Shivashankar Padukone part of his name, and was known simply as Guru Dutt. Because Dutt is a common Bengali last name, many people assumed that he was a Bengali.

He made quintessential 1950s and 1960s classics such as Pyaasa, Kaagaz Ke Phool, Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam and Chaudhvin Ka Chand.

In particular, Pyaasa and Kaagaz Ke Phool are now included among the greatest films of all time, both by Time magazine's "All-TIME" 100 best movies and by the Sight & Sound critics' and directors' poll, where Dutt himself is included among the greatest film directors of all time.

He is sometimes referred to as "India's Orson Welles".In 2010, he has been named the list
of CNN's "top 25 Asian actors of all time".

He is most famous for making lyrical and artistic films within the context of popular Hindi cinema of the 1950s, and expanding its commercial conventions, starting with his 1957 film, Pyaasa. Several of his later works have a cult following. His movies go full house when re-released; especially in Germany, France and Japan. The latest book on him is Ten Years with Guru Dutt: Abrar Alvi's Journey by Sathya Saran based on the recollections of his chief scriptwriter and friend.


Guru Dutt acted in a small role as Sri Krishna in Chand in 1944. In 1945, he acted as well as assisted director Vishram Bedekar in Lakhrani, and in 1946 he worked as an assistant director and choreographed dances for P. L. Santoshiís film, Hum Ek Hain.

This contract ended in 1947, but his mother got him a job as a freelance assistant with Baburao Pai, the CEO of the Prabhat Film Company and Studio. However, after that, for almost ten months, Guru Dutt was unemployed and stayed with his family at Matunga, Mumbai. During this time, Guru Dutt developed a flair for writing in English, and wrote short stories for The Illustrated Weekly of India, a local weekly English magazine.

It is during this time that he is supposed to have written the script for the almost autobiographical Pyaasa. Its original name was Kashmakash, which was changed later to Pyaasa and was written at his home in Matunga.

It is in this phase of his life that Guru Dutt was almost married twice! The first time he
eloped with a girl called Vijaya from Pune, and later his parents had him almost married to his maternal niece, Suvarna, from Hyderabad.

In 1953, Dutt married Geeta Dutt, a well-known playback singer. They had been engaged for three years and had to overcome a great deal of family opposition to marry. They had three children, Tarun, Arun, and Nina.

Dutt had an unhappy marital life. According to his brother Atmaram, Guru Dutt was "a strict disciplinarian as far as work was concerned, but totally undisciplined in his personal life",  He smoked heavily, drank heavily, and kept odd hours. Guru Dutt's relationship with actress Waheeda Rehman also worked against their marriage. At the time of his death, he had separated from Geeta and was living alone. Geeta Dutt herself died in 1972 at age 41, after excessive drinking which resulted in liver damage. According to an interview with Abrar Alvi, one of Dutt's close friends and his assistant director in films, Dutt did not "open up" to discuss his thoughts and problems, even though they were spending many hours together.

On 10 October 1964, Guru Dutt was found dead in his bed in his rented apartment at Pedder Road in Mumbai. He is said to have been mixing alcohol and sleeping pills. His death may have been suicide, or just an accidental overdose. It would have been his third suicide attempt .

Guru Dutt's son, Arun Dutt views this as an accident in an interview with India Abroad in October 2004 on the 40th anniversary of his father's death. Guru Dutt had scheduled appointments the next day with actress, Mala Sinha for his movie, Baharen Phir Bhi Aayengi, and Raj Kapoor to discuss making colour films. According to him, "my father had sleeping disorders and popped sleeping pills like any other person. That day he was drunk and had taken an overdose of pills, which culminated in his death. It was a lethal combination of excessive liquor and sleeping pills."

At the time of his death, Guru Dutt was involved in two other projects, Picnic starring actress, Sadhana and Director K. Asif's epic, Love and God. Picnic remained incomplete and Love and God was released two decades later with Sanjeev Kumar replacing Dutt in the leading role.

The extra-feature on DVD of Kaagaz Ke Phool, has a 3 part Channel 4 produced documentary on life and works of Guru Dutt titled, In Search of Guru Dutt. This excellent and a must see for any Guru Dutt fan work includes interviews with many who worked and lived with Guru Dutt.

Everyone, especially Abrar Alvi seem to suggest that it was a suicide. Abrar and Guru Dutt sat late that night discussing a movie and during conversation according to Alvi, Guru Dutt was very morbid in his thinking and conversation.

He was, according to many, distressed by his then personal situation - he was not on terms with his wife, Geeta Dutt; Waheeda Rehman had distanced herself from him. There was sleeping disorder that made him take sleeping pills, and he had been drinking since 5:00 pm that evening.


Guru Dutt was a director of it's own style.


Guru Dutt Filmography as an Actor

Sanjh Aur Savera (1964)
Suhagan (1964)
Bahurani (1963)
Bharosa (1963)
Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam (1962)
Sautela Bhai (1962)
Chaudhvin Ka Chand (1960)
Kaagaz Ke Phool (1959)
12 O'Clock (1958)
Pyaasa (1957)
Mr. & Mrs. '55 (1955)
Aar Paar (1954)
Suhagan (1954)
Baaz (1953)
Hum Ek Hain (1946)
Lakha Rani (1945)
Chand (1944)

Guru Dutt Filmography as an Director

Kaagaz Ke Phool (1959)
Pyaasa (1957)
Sailaab (1956)
Mr. & Mrs. '55 (1955)
Aar Paar (1954)
Baaz (1953)
Jaal (1952)
Baazi (1951)


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