Pyaasa (Thirst)


Written on 11:09 AM by Hemanth Kumar

Title: Pyaasa (Thirst)
Language: Hindi
Country: India
Year of Release: 1957
Director: Guru Dutt
Actors: Guru Dutt, Waheeda Rehman, Mala Sinha
Trivia: Named as one of the 100 best films of all time by the TIME magazine.

Cinema is perhaps one of the best medium of representing the lifestyle of people. If you consider Indian Cinema in particular, then the themes dealt with in each decades relate directly to the respective lifestyle of that time. 1950's cinema was about a country which had just become independent and this trend continued through most of the 1960's. Then 1970's changed a lot of things. There was a silent revolution around the country, Socialist and Communist ideologies were fast catching attention and correspondingly there were movies which depicted this..and the1980's and 1990's slowly shifted their focus on individuals depicting individual traits like Love, Marriage. Particularly 1950's and 60's movies were truly international in the sense that, they had such a distinct identity when compared with the Italian and French cinema. It's also considered by many as the Golden age of Bollywood.

In 1957, Guru Dutt came up with perhaps would be his most talked about movie even after 50 years of its release. Titled "Pyaasa" the flick had some of the finest talent that Hindi cinema has seen....Guru Dutt, Waheeda Rehman, Mala Sinha, Johny Walker, Rehman....the music by S.D.Burman, Lyrics by Sahir Ludhianvi and written by Abrar Alvi and singing by Mohammed Rafi. It truly is the one of the best combos of finest talent in Hindi Cinema and the result is nothing short of a masterpiece and a timeless Classic.

Pyaasa, is the story of Vijay(Guru Dutt), an unsuccessful poet who is struggling to get his poems published. His brothers despise him for being worthless and one day they sell his poems as waste paper which are inturn purchased from a store by a prostitute, Gulabo(Waheeda Rehman). One night, while sleeping in a park, Vijay overhears his poetry being sung as a song by Gulabo and follows her to the brother house. When Gulabo finally finds out that he is penniless, she drives him away, but later realizes that he is the same poet whose poems she had been singing. She falls in love with him and after sometime, Vijay also begins to like her for she's the only one who treats him with love and respect. While walking down a road, Vijay sees Meena(Mala Sinha) his ex-girlfriend who's now married to a big publisher Mr.Ghosh(Rehman). Vijay goes to his college reunion and sings a song in that ceremony and there he again sees Meena and Ghosh. Ghosh calls him to his office and offers a small job in his office. Out of desperation for money, Vijay accepts it; but Meena tries to make him understand that there's always a danger of her husband finding out about their past relationship. When Ghosh comes to know about this, he fires Vijay from his job. One night while trying to cross a railway track, there's an accident and Vijay loses his memory. But the world thinks that, Vijay has died because his coat was found at the accident site when infact it was that of a beggar to whom Vijay had given.
Gulabo takes the poems to Ghosh and convinces him to publish Vijay's poetry. Vijay's poetry becomes a huge hit and people just fall in love with him. In the meantime, Vijay's brother's come to meet Ghosh to demand for a share in the profit saying that, whatever Vijay's property was they also should have a share in that. One day, the nurse reads out Vijay's poetry infront of him and he finally becomes normal, but nobody believes him. He's put in a prison like room which is filled with insane people. Mr.Ghosh comes to know about his condition and when he reaches to see him, he lies that the man isn't Vijay. Then Ghosh also convinces Vijay's brothers that they shouldn't recognise him otherwise the whole business would be destroyed. With the help of his friend Abdul Sattar(Johnny Walker) Vijay manages to escape and goes home. His brothers refuse to recognise him saying that his brother had died. Then after sometime he comes to know that there is a public gathering which has been organized to honour Vijay, after a year of his death. In that function, Vijay sings a song which draws all the attention and he's brought to the main stage. Slowly after realising that they can turn Vijay's return into profit one after the other all his acquaintances who had earlier rejected him, claim that this is the real Vijay. And people are elated upon this fact. Seeing all this fame which he has earned during his absence and influenced by the attitude of the people around him....Vijay makes a U turn and says that he is not the Vijay whom people think. He denounces everything and leaves the society which doesn't care about one another, questioning the hypocrisy of the people. Gulabo joins him and they go away far from everybody from where they wouldn't need to go any further.

Sounds pretty normal for 21st century, but think of the same thing in 1957! It truly would have been shocking to see such a thing on screen, of a society which doesn't care about people while in reality the concept of joint family was still strong. Much ahead of its age, Guru Dutt's masterpiece was a commercial disaster. But nevertheless, this film pointed out fingers about society in an age where few film-makers dared to do the same. There are quite a few number of things to be talked about the movie.
The music of the film by S.D.Burman is remarkable and added with Sahir Ludhianvi's lyrics creates an ever lasting impression....something which you would like to sing/hum for a long time! It's pure poetry about what's going on in a unsuccessful poet's mind who's fed up with the society. Each word of the lyrics is equivalent to thousand emotions unexpressed ... especially the last song where Vijay sings about the society stands out from almost everything in the movie! Mohammed Rafi's voice adds magic to the wonder he's one of the best ever...perhaps the best! Dialogues by Abrar Alvi are great...they have this bitterness in them which suggests that the writer understands the thoughts of a dejected man with remarkable profoundness. Acting by everyone is good...but one person who stands out from almost everybody else in the movie is Guru Dutt himself. In one line, "He's a God in everything he does!" His looks, his thoughts, his questions, his silence....everything he does speak volumes about his understanding of the theme he's trying to project.

I think I can add more to this list, but maybe I should leave a lot more for you to experience. A masterpiece from Hindi Cinema, the flick has withstood the test of time and is still counted among the best films ever! Some people might say that, it's kinda slow and boring but maybe you should come to your own conclusion after watching this...maybe watching this movie from a point of view of a young nation which had achieved its freedom just a decade ago and coming to terms with poverty, employment, development, family values would help in understanding it better. A film like this atleast once a decade will stand as an example for others not to emulate but to get come up with themes that challenge ideas and perceptions. A timeless classic...with haunting music and great dialouges and acting....this definitely deserves to be watched over and over again....Highly recommended.

To download all the songs and verses from the movie click here

A beautiful song from the movie...this one is basically about how hypocritical people are...

Another nice song from the movie...this has been used in numerous ads in India over the years....

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1 Comment

  1. Arun Sethuraman |

    agreed!lovely movie![:)]
    oh and "jane woh kaise log" is easily one of my all time favourite songs!


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