Guru Dutt: Five unknown facts about Bollywood's iconic director
The iconic director, a reluctant actor and a handsome man with enigmatic smile, Guru Dutt is among those in the film industry who still remain a riddle, drawing attention towards the void they left
Here are 5 unknown facts about Guru Dutt:
1. He was a reluctant actor. He never wanted to face the camera. The most famous role in Pyaasa came to Guru Dutt by default. Dilip Kumar had been signed to play the defeatist post-Nehruvian poet. But then Dilip Kumar was already doing what he thought to be similar role in Bimal Roy’s Devdas. When the Thespian backed out Guru Dutt stepped in front of the camera more out of defiance than desire.
2. In Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam, Shashi Kapoor was to pay the innocent Bhootnath. But again the casting backfired and Guru Dutt had to step into the role reluctantly. Guru Dutt’s wife Geeta Dutt refused to sing for Waheeda Rehman in Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam. Hence all of Waheeda’s songs were ghost-voiced by Asha Bhosle, while Geeta Dutt’s pain-lacerated voice went on Meena Kumari.
3. Guru Dutt launched India’s first cinemascope film Gouri with his wife Geeta Dutt in the lead. Sachin Dev Burman recorded two songs and Guru Dutt shot a couple of scenes. But he decided to shelve the film probably because he had imagined his muse Waheeda Rehman in the role. Years later Waheedaji did a film on the same theme as Gouri — about the rehabilitation of a sex worker — called Darpan.
4. In 1963 Guru Dutt launched India’s first colour film Kaneez with Simi Garewal in the lead. It was apparently an Arabian Nights fantasy. This is one project that I am glad Guru Dutt never made. It would have been like Satyajit Ray making Amar Akbar Anthony. After his most ambitious film Kaagaz Ke Phool tanked in 1959, Guru Dutt never took official directorial credit ever again although it is believed that Chaudhvin Ka Chand (which did for Guru Dutt after Kaagaz Ke Phool, what Bobby did for Raj Kapoor after Mera Naam Joker) was ghost-directed by the Maestro himself. For all his sensitive cinema, Guru Dutt was a ruthless professional in real life. When Sachin Dev Burman fell ill during the shooting of Baharen Phir Bhi Aayengi, Guru Dutt replaced Sachinda with O.P. Nayyar within no time at all. Dev Anand on the other hand postponed the shooting of Guide until Sachinda recovered.
5. In 1964, Guru Dutt took his own life. At that time he was directing and acting in Baharen Phir Bhi Ayengi. The film was eventually released with Dharmendra playing Guru Dutt’s role. In another incomplete Guru Dutt starrer Love & God, Sanjeev Kumar replaced Guru Dutt. They were both born on the same day, and they both died young.
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