Since my college days when professors talked about Gurudutt it was a mystery around his work. I read many article about his life and the stories. Calendars changed cinema travelled from celluloid to digital. In 2005 V K Murthy awarded IIFA life time achievement award and 2010 Dadasaheb Phalke award.
I have great regards for V K, he has been an inspiration to many cinematographers. He inspired generations. He is one of those people who worked very closely with Gurudutt.
Nasreen Munni Kabir is a documentary filmmaker, associated BBC Channel 4 as a producer and also has been Indian film researcher. It is her hard work to find and meet various actors, technical people and the people who have lived with Gurudutt. It is interesting to strive this journey to explore the time and chimes of black and white era.
The Newly independent India, blooming urbanization, and social milieu. Gurudutt always choose characters and their tormented life from real situations. This is why, today when we look at his films, we find the characters more interesting than the story. Gurudutt is one of those few directors who worked more on his characters, he took special efforts to caste the actors.
Gurudutt started his career as a dance director with Mohan Sehagal, Then in 1951 his first film Baazi hit the screens. He became independent director. 1952 he gave break to Jhonny Walker and they remain united till the end. He gave a song to Jhonny Walker and it became the landmark song. Today Jhonny Walkar is known by this song. When we look at the dialogues and characters in Gurudutt film, we find the repetition. The dialogue in Baazi between Taxi driver and a passenger was enough to showcase the class difference and much more. This is repeatedly used by Gurudutt to showcase the class difference, a space of solace or be it a cozy space to share thought. This peculiar habit of Gurudutt is remembered forever. I remember a song, which is shot in Garage and there is no property other than a car. See the camera work. Two characters and the song, Sun Sun Sun Zalima a song from Aar Paar 1954. It is interesting to see how the camera work is down and how less is the property. We can see the acting done only by face.
VK Murthy who was assisting for camera, once he suggested a shot to recompose and retake to Gurudutt. He liked it so much that V K Murthy became his all-time cinematographer. Raaj Khosala who assisted Gurudutt, Gurudutt made him an independent director. There are many stories of those times in this book. Abrar Alvi joined Gurudutt as a script writer and shares the insights behind many films and casting of many actors for specific roles.
As we all know, Pyasa film is an adaptation of Sahir Ludhiyanvi’s Ghazals to screen but do we know? The role of poet was the role of painter. Sahir Ludhiyanvi was very reluctant to write for films but later how he turned towards film lyrics. This book talks about various experiments of V K Murthy in cinematography and how he was praised by Firdous Irani the cinematographer of Mother India.
The famous shot of Kaagaz ke phool in a studio where Gurudutt is sitting on camera crain and a strobe of light falls on Wahida Rehman, as she intrudes on set. It was in script but this shot became a metaphor for Indian Cinema. We see the same used in Om Shanti Om which is a homage to Bollywood film making and Sudhir Mishra’s Khoya Khoya Chand which is a film dedicated to Gurudutt. This shot is used by many cinematographers for various reasons in many films in India and abroad.
This book unveils many aspects of Bollywood and his life. How he picked up actors and caste them into a peculiar role which offered them identity. It is interesting to know how much he was passionate about film making through his friends. Wahida Rehman share how she met Gurudutt and how he took her test of hindi diction. Wahida joyfully shares the remarks of Gurudutt, ‘Acting is done with face’ rest is assembly.
While talking about his films Nasreen Munni Kabir makes us rich about the times and chimes of Indian Golden Period of Cinema. Being a producer she works with BBC and extensively wrote on Bollywood. I see this book is a feast to all cinema lovers.