Pyaasa- Makes you question the meaning of life

Khevna.P.Shah, INN/Bangalore

@Shahkhevna1, @Infodeaofficial

Unlike Guru Datt’s other work, Pyaasa holds an important place in Indian cinema even today. It questions the meaning of life and the socio-political culture. The movie still holds a significant mark in Indian cinema. Pyaasa has been named one of the Times top 10 romantic movies in 2010, one of the Times Top 100 movies of all time, and its soundtrack is chosen as one of the ‘The best music in film in 2004 by Sight and  Sound.

Pyaasa is a story of a struggling writer in an unwelcoming society.  Vijay played by Dutt is a writer who is criticized by his family and fails to find success. He is treated harshly by the publisher who hires him. Losing all hope in humanity, he gives his jacket to a beggar. And due to some unfortunate circumstances, his family believes that he is dead and ironically his attends his own funeral. Claiming to be the dead poet, Vijay is put into the mental asylum. Later he breaks out from there and finds the path of spirituality with Gulabo

The prominent role played by the two women puts them in the opposite end of the social hierarchy. One being Meena played by Mala Sinha former lover of Vijay who later marries a publisher for financial safety. And the other is Gulaabo played by Waheeda Rahaman who discovers Vijays’s poetry and believes to have understood his pain and helps him publish his work. One is realistic and the other has found a spiritual get away from the toxicity of society and life. Neither of the women is wrong, rather is the situation in which they were put into defined their character. Guru Dutt also highlights who a man’s view of a woman mirrors his character. When one man sees a woman as a fellow human worthy of love and empathy on the other hand the other man sees women as an object of vilification.

The main theme of Pyaasa is what is the meaning of life. Dutt’s character who entirely lost hope in humanity found a reason to live through spirituality. Since the beginning of the movie, all be wanted was is poems to be published for the world to hear. Like any other artist, he strives for validation, but later when he is appreciated for his work after his supposed death he realizes that validation from others and it is not worth it. Pyaasa has a two-fold understanding – first, it questions the attachment of people from the materialistic world and also a piece of entertainment with a great storyline and soulful music.

The music composed by SD Burman is very soulful and accurate to the scene rustling in intensifying the emotion of the character. The songs like “Jaane Kya Tune Kahi”, “Jaane Woh Kaise Log”, “Yeh Duniya Agar Mil Bhi Jaye” depict the dilemma of the characters and are still fresh to the ears after 57 years of its release. Unlike Bollywood today, where the songs have no link with the scene or the characters and are added to the movie for mere attention, SD Burman served justice to the relationship of songs and senses in Pyaasa.

Pyaasa is termed the crown jewel of Hindi cinema. Though the poor portrayal of asylum and the dependency of women on her husband’s finance might don’t translate well in 2021, Pyaasa is not about that. And as long as the humans have the eternal question of – ‘what is the meaning of life’, Pyaasa will remain immortal. Maybe Pyaasa had a dark side to it as well, the death of Dutt was due to over consumption of alcohol and sleeping pills at a very young age. Maybe Pyaasa was a cry for help but went unnoticed. And the irony is that Vijay found his salvation of peace, but Dutt found an escape from this world.



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