Guru Dutt: A Heart As Big As the WorldBy Lavina Melwani • Nov 4th, 2009 • Category: Cinema
New York is full of surprises and unexpected treats, of twists and turns. You can take a detour and find yourself face to face with the cinema you loved in your youth, the films which gave you goose bumps and showed you the futility and heartbreak of life, films which took you into a deeper, more complicated world and made you disregard the bag of chips in your hand. Who can forget the aching pain of ‘Pyaasa’, the disillusionment of ‘Kaagaz Ke Phool’ or the churning emotions of a fading way of life in a changing world in ‘Sahib, Bibi Aur Ghulam’?
For those who mourn the abbreviated life and career of the legendary Guru Dutt, at the Lincoln Center there was the delight of finding that his movies live again. Not one, not two but six of them at The New York Film Festival’s Masterworks series, ‘A Heart as Big as the World: The films of Guru Dutt’. This was the first ever retrospective in New York of the director, actor and producer who put his own unique, brooding stamp on the commercial Hindi film industry.
From ‘Aar Paar’, to ‘Baaz’ to ‘Mr and Mrs. 55’ and ‘Chaudhvin ka Chand’, his three dimensional characters animate the screen and take you into a vanished world. ‘Pyaasa’ was named one of the 100 best films ever by TIME magazine, but everyone has their own favorites among Guru Dutt’s films, and searing scenes from films like ‘Kaagaz ke Phool’ and ‘Sahib, Bibi Aur Ghulam’ stay with one, over the years.
Guru Dutt’s life ended tragically in suicide and one can only wonder at the great gifts we missed when his life was cut short at the age of 39. He was always the outsider, the one watching the inexplicable show of life, the barters and compromises that people make. His films were complex, deeply personal and moviegoers who have never seen a Guru Dutt film have missed much.
(All photo credits: The Film Society of Lincoln Center)