When I first saw Pyaasa, I must have been eleven or twelve years old. Well, in fact, I didn’t get to watch it because 1. I had a exam the next day, 2. I had a splitting headache. The end result was I couldn’t watch the film, except for a few glimpses from behind the curtain, I didn’t learn, my headache didn’t get cured. Huge failure on all fronts! When I was 19 or so it was aired again on DD at midnight or something. This time I could watch it and I was floored!
What was it that impressed me I couldn’t say. Usually such a self-pitying character would put me totally off. So nearly after 20 years I watched it again yesterday, because I wanted to know this why. I still can’t answer it, but discovered some other things along the way. Helpful were not only Philip Lutgendorf’s (with Corey Creekmoor’s special notes) and Upperstall reviews but also many discussions with fellow net friends over the years! Thanks to everybody.
Basically it is the story of a poet, a poor unemployed poet Vijay (Guru Dutt).
In college his girl-friend Meena (Mala Sinha) leaves him to marry a rich publisher (Rehman).
When we meet him this is already a thing of the past and he is living on and off the streets,
with no hope of help from his brothers (Radheshyam & Mehmood) or friends (Shyam),
except for the masseur Sattarbhai (Johnny Walker).
But he has a devout fan in the street walker Gulabo (Waheeda Rehman), who found his poems in a old paper trade market.
A chance meeting with his old flame at a college reunion makes the husband suspicious and he offers him a job at his office to confirm his suspicion, after which he kicks him out.
Meanwhile he discovers that his mother (Leela Misra) is dead. One cold night after a drinking bout he decides to commit suicide and writes a parting note, which he puts in his jacket.
Seeing a beggar shivering in the night he gives his jacket to him. The beggar has a train accident and everybody believes that Vijay is dead.
When Gulabo publishes his poems with the help of her savings, they are a best seller. As to corner the profits everybody refuses to recognise him.
When his brothers and childhood friends see that they can profit more with his art, they put him on the stage. Will the disillusioned Vijay take the fame and money which comes with it. Will Meena leave her husband and return to him? Where does that leave Gulabo? Will Vijay find peace of mind? Will his thirst be satiated?
What I liked about the film
Nearly everything! The acting, the actors and actresses, the songs, the music, the camera work. Notes on this in a coming post.
What I didn’t like about the film
The main character. Something about him turns me off. He is too self-pitying, always finding fault in everybody and everything. It is as if he has taken a vow not to like anything aobut this world. No single line of optimism do you hear from him.
Since I know there are many Rehman fans (memsaab and others) out there. Here is one for you.
And this is one is for Madhu, who is a loyal Mala Sinha fan!