My review of the book- Guide, The Film: Perspectives, by Lata Jagtiani and others ( Blue Pencil Publishers, 2019, 268 pages)
A devoted Dev Anand fan that I am, I never miss an opportunity to read a book on the evergreen legend. This time, I have got an absolutely sublime work , dedicated exclusively to Dev Saab’s greatest film-Guide, written by fourteen authors who are well known names in their fields of expertise,. I have had the pleasure of meeting some of the authors, Antara Nanda, Sundeep Pahwa, and Bobby Sing at the Jaipur Dev Festival on 26th September 2019.
The lead article, running into seventy pages, is by Lata Jagtiani who has already authored seven books. When asked what inspired her to write the book, she said – ‘I am crazy about Dev, and Guide is his best’.Lata has likened the movie ‘Guide’ to the actress Madhubala who was so beautiful that she inspired others to write about her.The movie ‘Guide’, in the lead author’s words, is a perfect tease, it seduces us; we go forward, but it slips away just when we thought we had it in our grip. No wonder we can never get enough of ‘Guide’, we see this film again and again, and each time it has something new to offer. The English version, which was produced first, was not successful, but the Hindi version became a classic for which the credit goes to our beloved Goldie, Vijay Anand, who was only thirty-one when he directed this movie. Goldie made crucial changes to the story and the characters, like both Raju and Rosy were shown as flawed but lovable characters, and the story had a definitive and spiritual ending in the manner that Raju’s sacrifice didn’t go in vain.
Manek Prem Chand, a faculty member at St. Xavier’s Mumbai, and also a well known author and organizer of events, has written the introduction. According to him, the story of ‘Guide, and the way it has been talked about, conveys a larger message that we see the truth better when a subject is considered from a multitude of perspectives. He has also referred to the time when SD Burman was hospitalized and requested Dev Saab to change the music director, but Dev Saab said, ‘Only you, Dada’. Ajay Kanagat, a businessman from Bangaluru, has written in detail about Rosy’s character particularly with reference to women emancipation as reflected in the song ‘ Kanton Se Kheench Ke Ye Aanchal’. Antara Nanda Mondal ,who is the founder editor of blue pencil publishers, and editor in chief of Learning and creativity.com, besides being a consulting editor of Silhouette-Magazine.com, has given a philosophical account of life in the backdrop of the opening song ‘Wahan Kaun Hai Tera. She says, ‘ the song encapsulates the ultimate truth of life, sketching the path each individual must trudge’.
Deepa Buty,the founder at TheSongPedia, didn’t like the movie when she saw it first. She had become a great fan of Dev Anand after seeing him in Tere Ghar Ke Samne , and she was disappointed to see the star in such an unromantic role in ‘Guide’. ‘My eyes and brain refused to adjust to this change’, she says. But , after several years , when she saw the movie’Guide’ again, it was a completely new film to her and she describes it as the best thing that has happened to the Indian celluloid. She gives full credit to Vijay Anand who has given the viewer not only the feel of all the navrasas but also the tenth ras and beyond. Dharmkirthi, who is a former banker and finance expert, has written about Shailendra’s lyrical narrative. He says the master story-teller Goldie and the filmmaker’s poet Shailendra collaborated to give us the masterpiece of Guide. Gaurav Sahay, a movie buff and a banker by profession, has narrated the important scenes of the movie and why these scenes are regarded as the directorial masterpieces which made ‘ Guide’ such a great movie. Kalpana Swamy, a communications professional, has said that movie is a confluence of conflicting perspectives. She says there is no such thing as right or wrong in this world, it is all about individual’s perspective. In her college days, she read the novel and also watched the movie, an experience that opened a plethora of perspectives to her.From Raju’s perspective, since he had left his entire world for Rosy, he thought he was fully justified in forging her signatures .From Rosy’s perspective, Raju should not have cheated her when she had placed all her assets at his disposal and if he needed money ,all he had to do was ask. But the point is that Raju didn’t cheat for money , he just wanted to keep Marco away from Rosy.It was jealousy of a lover which Rosy mistook for greed. Monica Kar, creative editor with Learning and Creativity-Silhouette magazine , has given the details of the dialogues and how it was crucial to the success of the movie. She is all praise for Goldie, as she says- The screenplay and dialogue writer-cum director Vijay Anand sprinkled a lot of gold dust –magical gold dust-while creating this unforgettable movie.MV Devraj, a Chartered Accountant, has compared the novel and the film in a an elegantly written chapter.According to him, ‘Guide’ remains one of the finest movies ever made which holds a place of pride in the history of Indian Cinema.
Dr. Pisharoty Chandran, a psychiatrist from Kerala, has given the psychodynamics of the principal characters and the plot of the movie. He has explained the story on the basis of Diya and Patanga motif.Rosy is like a patanga (moth) who is an accomplished dancer stuck with unhappy domestic life, she yearns for limelight and Raju is Diya ( lamp) for her . Like the moth, she is drawn to the lamp but the story moves to the point that she stops just in time to prevent her wings from being singed by the lamp. When Raju is arrested Rosy doesn’t save him from prison because she didn’t want to be consumed by the flames of his passion. While this is an interesting analysis of the story and the characters, I do not agree with the author’s passing remarks about Dev Anand’s personality as being Histrionic and attention seeking. The author has written, “ Vijay Anand was fortunate in getting Dev as the protagonist. Dev has what it takes to be a Histrionic Personality. His mannerisms, stylized dialogue delivery, outlandish costumes, all are with the sole intention of drawing intention to the self.”
In my opinion Dev Anand, as an individual, was not the one who sought attention. He was so active because his energy flew from within like a battery with never ending charge, and his style was part of his carefully crafted screen persona, which should never be seen as an attention seeking endeavor.
I absolutely loved Sundeep Pahwas’s chapter on Navketan and Vijay Anand.Sundeep, who comes from a family of filmmakers, has highlighted Goldie’s contribution to the success story of the Navketan films. According to him, Vijay Anand touched every one’s heart by writing super dialogues and directing movies that were much ahead of times. The next chapter is by Vijay Kumar, a retired Government Officer, who says that the film ‘Guide’ is like a spiritual odyssey which accommodates more than one perspective. It can be seen as a great love story, and it can be seen also as an account of how fate and destiny play an important role in shaping human actions. The last chapter is a very interesting and informative twenty five point quiz on ‘Guide’ by Bobby Sing (He is a stage artist, poet, educationist, and a graphic designer. His real name is Harpreet Singh and he got the nickname Bobby from Raj Kapoor’s famous film).
Overall- It was an amazing read. Highly recommended.