An unfinished story remains etched in the memory. Guru Dutt’s suicide in 1964 caused quite a stir. I came when we were school going kids but old enough to be interested in classic movies. Elders discussed Pyaasa (1957), Kaagaz Ke Phool (1959), and Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam (1962) so Guru Dutt was, for young boys as we were then, someone who went a notch higher than Raj Kapoor. His untimely death therefore was a puzzle to me.
We heard about his relationship with Waheeda Rehman and as far as we know Waheeda maintained complete silence about her relationship with Guru Dutt. The mystery grew and the puzzle remained unsolved.
One of the persons close to Guru Dutt was Bimal Mitra, whose novel was adapted to make ‘Sahib Bibi aur Ghulam.’ Bimal Mitra became a close friend and a regular in the Dutt household. He spent many days with them in their Pali Hill bungalow and on their Lonavala farm. Guru Dutt could speak Bangla as well as any Bengali which must have helped in bonding. Mitra had the inside view of the interactions between Guru Dutt, his singer wife Geeta Dutt and Waheeda.
Bimal Mitra is an author for whom the interplay of emotions, drama in real life is of great interest. He can get involved and yet can take a dispassionate view of the relationships, observing the drama like an intelligent and well-informed bystander.
That is why Bimal Mitra’s book ‘Bichade Sabhi Bari Bari’ (a line from Dutt’s film Kagaz ke Phool song) which is about his days with Guru Dutt and family makes a great reading. He was the eye witness to the drama in real life. I was happy to lay my hands on the Marathi version of the book by the same name, translated by Chandrakant Bhonjal.
Bimal Mitra writes about the relationship triangle with candour yet with gentleman’s restraint. He brings out the ways of a mercurial personality, a genius, his deep involvement in his work, his listening to his inner voice – he refused to change the end of ‘Sahib, Bibi aur Ghulam’ to make it (supposedly) more palatable to the audience. He was proved right. The tensions of work, and of souring relationship with his wife Geeta Dutt, took the toll and Guru Dutt took to drinking. It led to death at the age of thirty-nine.
Guru Dutt was a gifted soul; his films have been recognized at the international levels and accepted as works of art. And like gifted souls he was an enigma. Bimal Mitra helps us take a good look at him, gives us a clearer picture by removing the mist around him, and people in his life. Chandrakant Bhonjal’s Marathi translation is superb which makes the book ‘unputdownable.’
Vivek S Patwardhan
“What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others.” / Read more Lulu blogs in my book ‘The Lulu Duologues’