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BLAST FROM THE PAST

 Guide 1965

Dev Anand, Waheeda Rehman, Kishore Sahu



Unforgettable Waheeda Rehman in Guide

Like many other movies that were rated classics, “Guide” was also declared a flop when it first premiered in New Delhi in the presence of the entire cabinet sans the Prime Minister. This unusual love story of a married woman, Rosie (Waheeda Rehman) who elopes with Raju, a guide (Dev Anand) who rekindles her latent love for dancing was considered too bold for its time. Based on one of R.K. Narayan’s lesser-known novels, it carries with it a history of sorts.

It was to be made in English in partnership with Nobel Laureate Pearl S. Buck with the Polish director Tad Danielewski calling the shots. By the time star producer Dev Anand returned to India, after signing the deal in California, he had also decided to make it in Hindi. And by the time Narayan had given his consent, Buck and Danielewski had landed in Bombay.

Chetan Anand was to direct the Hindi version. Differences between the two directors brought work to a halt. Chetan, meanwhile, got the much-awaited permission from the Army for the shooting of his dream project, “Haqeeqat” and a plausible excuse to abandon the project.

Desperate to get shooting underway, the star-producer approached another Navketan prodigy, Raj Khosla to wield the megaphone. But due to an earlier misunderstanding the heroine, Waheeda Rehman threatened to walk out of the project if Khosla was to direct. She had been chosen over various other contenders for her proficiency in classical Indian dance. At this point, the star-producer decided to rope in younger brother Vijay ‘Goldie’ Anand, who had already proved his mettle. Goldie raised doubts about the acceptance of the infidelity angle. He also outright rejected Danielewski’s screenplay and approach to filmmaking and agreed to direct the film on the condition that he would rework the screenplay, and shoot the film after the English version had been shot. The English version disappeared without a trace.

And now 42 years after its first release it has acquired an iconic status the world over. After Cannes earlier this year, this immortal Vijay Anand classic is again being screened at the Nehru Centre, London, early in October as part of the Satyajit Ray Foundation’s celebration of six decades of Indian cinema.

Two of Navketan stalwarts, composer S.D. Burman, and cinematographer Fali Mistry, outdid themselves. All the seven songs, from the exuberant “Aaj phir jeene ki tamanna hai”, to the soulful Rafi number, “Din dhal jaye raat na jaye”, continue to enthral listeners.

Goldie, who had already shown his mastery at song picturisation in the previous films he had directed for Navketan, excelled in the song sequences, apart from the deft direction and the taut screenplay he had written.

He converted the tragic, hopeless climax into an elevated scene of redemption, which in a way also became the saving grace, despite Narayan’s later disapproval of it. It had a running time of 183 minutes. But one dare not miss a single shot, or excuse oneself from a song.

It was, probably, the first time in an Indian film that huge crowds actually participated in the climax. “Guide” picked up all the major Filmfare Awards in 1966. Dev Anand and Waheeda Rehman won the Best Actor and Actress awards; Vijay Anand received the Best Picture, Best Director, and the Best Dialogue Writer award; Fali Mistry won it for Cinematography, R.K. Narayan for the Best Story and S.D. Burman for Music. Lata Mangeshkar missed the bus narrowly for Best Female Playback.

SURESH KOHLI

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