Existential crisis in Guru Dutt movies
Guru Dutt, the maker of some of the best classic movies in the golden era of Bollywood, was a person who portrayed his own life in the silver screen. The legend who passed away at the age of 38, portrayed existential crisis of human beings in most of his works. His films delineates an existential undertone along with absurdity, where the protagonist has a hidden quest to find the meaning of his/her life.
Here are few legendary films with an existential undertone, that set a whole new paradigm in film making :
Released in 1957, Pyaasa was one of the greatest movies ever made in Indian Cinema and was also one of the movies listed in the Time’s magazine’s list of 100 greatest movies. In the film directed and produced by Guru Dutt, the protagonist had a quest for the meaning of his life throughout. From the very first scene of the film to the lyrics of the song ‘Yeh Duniya Agar’ and the climax shot where he walks away from the society with Waheeda Rahman into absolute nothingness, Dutt has left the agony of an existential man.
2) Kaagaz Ke Phool
The film released in 1959 was a commercial disaster and marked the end of Guru Dutt’s career as a director. The film that pretty much sums up his own life portrayed the protagonist as a lonely man who wanted to rise above all materialistic pleasures of life. A downhill slide of his career and his loneliness is beautifully depicted with an existential undertone.
3) Saheb, Bibi Aur Gulam
The film which was released in 1962 was produced by Guru Dutt and was directed by his close friend Abrar Alvi. In the film that depicts the decline of the zamindari families of Bengal during 19th century, the female protagonist played by Meena Kumari appears to be in an existential crisis. Chotti Bahu (Meena Kumari) is the wife of a drunkard who is also a rich zamindar. Her repeated attempts to keep her husband by her side lead her into being an alcoholic. Towards the end of the film, the husband dies and Chotti Bahu’s corpse is found by Guru Dutt.
4) Chaudhvin Ka Chand
Chaudhvin Ka Chand released in 1960 is a film produced by Guru Dutt, who is also believed to have Ghost directed it. The film narrates the story of three friends, out of which two fall in love with the same woman Jameela (Waheeda Rehman). As the love triangle progresses, we can see romantic songs with beautiful lyrics and the strength of friendship unfold. The characters tend to remain hopeless and later the crisis sets in.
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