Directed by Guru Dutt. 1957.
As the film opens, Vijay encounters Gulabo and discovers that she bought his poems after they were sold as waste paper and has fallen in love with him. Many poems are dedicated to Meena (Mala Sinha), an ex-girlfriend that he met in college. When her husband Mr. Ghosh (Rehman) discovers this, he hires Vijay as a helper to find out more about the connection with his wife. When Vijay, seemingly on his way to commit suicide, offers his coat to a beggar who is hit by an oncoming train, the coat he is wearing leads to the assumption that Vijay has been killed and the story about the dead poet is printed in the papers. [This defies all logic because the beggar's body is torn to smithereens and is not identifiable, yet, miraculously the coat escapes shredding and is recognized as belonging to an obscure poet whose work has never been published.] When the poems are finally published on Gulabo's pleading, they turn out to be very profitable, and Vijay's posthumous status is raised to legendary proportions.
While Pyaasa is
a film of utmost sensitivity with moments that are deeply moving, Dutt's
character comes off as self-righteous and self-destructive. While he has
perfected the hangdog expression, displaying endless variations of the
put upon, world-weary artist, he would rather be right than achieve satisfaction.
When he is down and out and invited to recite a poem on the stage of a
happy reunion party, he puts a damper on the proceedings by delivering
a maudlin verse. When Meena pledges her love and wants to run away with
him, he righteously refuses to forgive her for her original decision to
marry someone else. Again, when he finally gets the recognition he seeks,
he rejects it because his friends did not appreciate him when they knew
he was alive, singing "Why revel in a shallow world that ignores human
beings and idolizes the dead?" Vijay is a perfectionist and wants the world
only on his terms. Perhaps this may have also been true of the director
Guru Dutt who it was claimed was never satisfied with any of his works
and committed suicide at the age of only 41, only seven years after his
most acclaimed film.
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