In an alternate universe, Mr Vasanth Kumar Shivashankar Padukone is still alive, and he has been making films all his life. In an alternate universe all is right with the world and tragedies are fewer. In an alternate universe melancholy would not have taken away a genius from Indian Cinema.
On a different Earth the quality of films from the Golden age of Indian cinema has only risen, aided by the magnificent Guru Dutt and his films.
In his too brief life Guru Dutt created some of the best films, films that remain in the favourite list of movie fans, films which are timeless, shot with originality and which taught other filmmakers to use the camera as a pen for writing poetry.
To the uninitiated it would be easy to think that Guru Dutt made tragic, hard hitting dramas about society or unrequited love. While he did excel in that, he made a very very wide range of films, from acting in swashbucklers to directing film noirs, from making comedies to producing tight police procedural In keeping with our tradition, here is a list of 5 films which he directed that you should watch
1) Baazi -
There is a story which is part of the film lore that two young men Guru Dutt and Dev Anand became friends while working for Prabhat Films, Pune. They both had come to the film industry to make their mark not just as actors but also as directors and producers. and as a gesture of friendship they promised each other to Star in a film directed by the other and vice versa. Baazi was a result of that promise.
It was an excellent film-noir, with an anti-hero Dev Anand who spends his time gambling, beautiful women singing and dancing in SpeakEasys, and a righteous heroine who brings the hero away from his wayward ways.
Baazi was the first film that Guru Dutt made and it set up his career and his signature styles, stark frame compositions and a delightful use of Black and White.
2) Baaz -
This was a fun film. While Guru Dutt had acted in several films by then, this was his first film as a lead actor. It was Guru Dutt doing a Douglas-Fairbanks turn, in a movie about 16th century Konkan coast with K N Singh playing a Portuguese general and Geeta Bali playing a renegade princess turned pirate. It is also one of the rare Indian films to be set mostly at Sea.
3) Mr and Mrs 55
This film was a laugh riot, and it was perhaps (for want of a better word) the lightest moment in Guru Dutt's career. Paired with the most beautiful woman in the world, aided by a zany plot about stipulations of marriage for her to earn her father's fortune and playing a cartoonist who is frustrated with the world around him, add to it Johnny Walker at his best.
This is a film which merits multiple repeat viewings.