Pyaasa: First impression

Its almost four in the morning and I just finished watching Pyaasa, the black and white classic by the late Guru Dutt.

Its a story about two women in love with the same man. Gulab (Waheeda Rehman) is a tantalisingly beautiful “Lady of the Night” stalking the streets of Calcutta of 1950s for a living. [Kareena Kapoor, go boil your head. Watch this movie for 50 times and you would know how to portray a prostitute. She need not be loud and vulgar like you. She can also be dignified and upright like Gulab. But you looked so convincing in Chameli as you played yourself. The only perfect role for you. Please do not create stereotypes.] And Meena (Mala Sinha) the beautiful wife of a rich publisher, who was also the college mate (and lover) of the brilliantly talented, but wretched, shayar (poet) Vijay (Guru Dutt). Of course, when it comes to marriage, her practical sense takes over her and she dumps Vijay in favour of the fat cat publisher Mr. Ghosh ( played by Rehman).

Gulab falls in awe of Vijay’s talent and falls madly in love with him. On the other hand Mala tries o come to terms with her unhappy marriage.

The editing and direction of this movie is superb. There is not a single instance of exaggeration. In a typical kotha (brothel) a mesmerising woman dances to the tune of music. The shrill cry of her baby is heard in the background. But she must dance on, for money, and satisfy the lust of her customers before she can attend to her sick child. Harsh realities of life. We, the hypocrite lot, who watch porn on our computers, do not realise this harsh reality. The ladies out there who writhe in ecstasy, do that because they are paid to do so, because they have mouths to feed. And not because they enjoy doing it. Given a choice, no one would ever be a prostitute, except the likes of certain (so called) Bollywood queens.

Superb music by SD Burman. What with “Jane Kya Tune Kahi”, “Hum Aapki Aankhon Mein”, “Jane Woh Kaise”, “Aaj Sajan Mohe”. The most touching song I guess is “Jinhen Naz Hai” by Rafi Sahab. Its an anti-establishment song adressed to the hypocrite ruling classes of India, read Jawaharlal Nehru, the greatest hypocrite India has ever produced. [His cursed dynasty is still ruining India. I can never forgive him for the humiliation suffered at the hands of fledgling China in 1962. India suffered a crushing defeat. It was entirely unnecessary and completely avoidable. There was no reason to save the hordes of eunuchs, and shelter their leader the Dalai Lama. People who cannot defend themselves should die like dogs. Lets face it.] I suspect some kind of a pro-Naxal feeling in this song. Its so refreshing to get this totally unflattering view of India during 50s. Most of the movies during that time used to praise the Government, Nehru, Congress, etc. etc. in the hope of getting some political mileage. I guess this is one of the boldest movie ever made with a totally anti-establishment sentiment. The protagonist Vijay does not have any complaints against the individuals. He does not blame Meena, the lover who dumped him for money, the brothers and friends who failed to recognise him for profit, or the fat cat publisher who cheats him. But he has a problem with the society and the system which creates such people, or rather forces people to act the way they do. It the clearest sign of an apathy towards how things were run in India during that time. And rightly so.

To conclude, an immensely watchable movie.