Saturday, October 10, 2015

When movies were like poems: Remembering Gurudutt on his 51st death anniversary

If Gurudutt were alive today, he would have been ninety, probably he would have been like Dilip Kumar and other veterans in their 90s - the living legends of cinema that celebrated finer aspects of being human. My love for some of his movies is like an addiction that you acquire in your growing up years, when you start to question and understand people, relationships and life in general.

We are born sensitive; it is the process of living that makes us insensitive, tough and callous. Some remain sensitive and go through the angst till they leave this world and leave behind a legacy that reflects their perception of the ways of the world. And when such a legacy happens to be through the medium of movies, we are enriched to have it in our cultural repertoire for generations to experience the art and celebrate the artist, the director, the cinematographer, the music composer, the actors and so on.

Some people come into our lives through their movies and leave that long-lasting impact, which transforms the way we relate to people and things. Their stories influence us; they change us and make us think. For them movies become an extension of their being. It is like a pristine canvas that waited to be filled with colours –  in black and white. It was almost like seeing the world in these colours devoid of accepting the shades of greyness in between. It is like perceiving the world in symbols, images and little fragments of poems.

What if the stories raised disturbing questions about humanity, about relationships, about ideology? This was when movies were pure and from the heart. I’m not sure if the concept of box office collections even bothered such people. Wonder how much they cared for fame, recognition and all that. Their movies didn’t need aggressive promotion; they just grew on you.
Sad, such a person left this world at a young age. The stories he told were way beyond his times like the character of Vijay in Pyaasa. The intensity with which he felt emotionally could be seen and felt vicariously like in the song jaane woh kaise log the jinke pyaar to pyaar mila...

It must have been his empathy and sincere identification with the characters, this was why his Pyaasa and Kagaz ke Phool did to movies what none of his contemporaries would do. Even today when I watch the song yeh duniya mujhe mil bhi jaaye to kya hai… I can identify and feel for the artist and his uneasiness, the character who was a misfit in the materialistic world. When I watch waqt ne kiya kya haseen sitam…I’m spellbound by the ethereal beauty of the song and the story it tells, not forgetting the visual effects that transport you into the world of the character.

Reading about him is like reading about someone who tried hard adjusting to the social truths and hypocrisies. Watching his movies feels like we enter the mind and makings of a person who wants to say so many things…someone who is a thinker, doer, visionary, but not an anti-hero like in Albert Camus’ Etranger. I can’t even imagine how Vijay from Pyaasa could be recreated if the movie were to be made in today’s world where movies are less and less about art and more and more about anything other than art.
As values like simplicity, sensitivity and fellow-feeling get more and more devalued and depleted, with every passing year, this person and his stories will become more and more reflective of the times, the culture and the social fabric. Of course, his life may not be an ideal one for people to follow, but his death does make us think about the tragic end he inflicted on himself.
So true... sounds so much like a premonition and so imminent, dekhi zamaane ki yaari, bichhde sabhi baari baari...matlab ki duniya hai saari...

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