It’s been a long time since I watched the movie, and this time I watched it again. But what I distinctly remember about the movie is its exceptional beautiful music, soulful folk & classical-based songs, composed by Sachin Dev Burman & a distinct romantic film on the Indian movie screen.
Guide is a 1965 film starring Dev Anand and Waheeda Rehman. It was directed by Vijay Anand, who also contributed to the screenplay. The film is based on the critically acclaimed novel, The Guide, by R. K. Narayan, and is widely considered to be one of the masterpieces of the Indian film industry.
The Anand brother’s ambitious adaptation of R. K. Narayan’s novel is a lush metaphor of cinematic magic around the story of an ordinary man’s spiritual awakening, that its literary origins could hardly be discerned. Besides renunciation and social attribute India of generation of 1950-60’s and enduring of transition Indian culture.
The film was a box office hit upon release. The movie proved memorable for its award-winning performances by the lead actors and memorable music by S. D. Burman. Time Magazine listed it at Number Four on its list of Best Indian Film Classic
A 120-minute U.S. version was written by Pearl S. Buck, and directed and produced by Tad Danielewski- The film was screened at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival, 42 years after its release.
The Director Vijay Anand recalls advising his brother Dev Anand not to touch to the book, he was planning to film planned as a Hindi-English bilingual, with well-known author Pearl Buck doing the English script. Vijay Anand almost didn’t direct the film, but when Raj Khosla (nixed by Waheeda Rehman) and Chetan Anand (busy with Haqeeqat) were unable to do it for Navketan ( the production house of Anand’s), Vijay Anand was reluctantly roped in again. His condition was that he would rewrite the script and brook no interference—he hated the English script, and said in an interview, “The first scene had Marco and Rosie disembarking at the station and encountering Raju. And in the next shot Rosie and the guide were in bed together. Who would accept such a hero in our country, even if he turned into a saint later? Marco would walk away with all the sympathy that goes to a cuckolded husband.”
Dev Anand found it tough to sell the movie, as the English version director Ted Danielewski mad hush of it. When the Hindi version was finally released with great difficulty, industry folk were sure it would bomb. Mercifully they were proved wrong.
When Waheeda Rehman took on the role of Rosie in Vijay Anand’s Guide, she was certain she would never work in the Mumbai industry again. The character of a woman, who commits adultery, puts her career over her marriage, dumps her boyfriend when he starts to stifle her, was just too strong for traditional Indian audiences. She pulled the role of Rosie so well and drew it so well and gave the sterling of her life time
The other highlight was the music of the film by great composer Sachin Dev Burman, When she dances to a frenzied piece of music, laughingly breaks a mud pot singing “Dil woh chala”, stands in the caves her scholar husband is studying and screams, “Marco main jeena chahti hoon,” she spoke for millions of Indian women. Rosie was a breaker of rules in a society (and by reflection a cinematic tradition) in which docile, sacrificing, suffering women were the ideal.
The film is strongest on the inception of their relationship, when Raju, the guide slowly becomes aware of the depth of Rosie’s sorrow and of the abuse she receives from the rich Mr. Marco, to whom her mother married her in a desperate bid for respectability — a sour antiquarian who lusts after stone images of copulating couples while despising his own voluptuous young wife. Raju gradually begins “guiding” Rosie to belief in herself and in her talents, eventually giving her shelter in his home despite the voyeuristic scandalization of his neighbors and the outraged opposition of his relatives (Leela Chitnis portrays another long-suffering widowed mother). Raju’s courage and compassion, and the hypocrisy of “respectable” society’s attitude toward “public women” are powerfully portrayed, as is the chemistry between him and Rosie. Their later falling out, at the height of Rosie’s success, is rendered more sketchily.
Vijay Anand, 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.
In the final sequence, the film acquires overtones of the much-maligned spiritual insights, and its validation of the simple faith of the villagers may appear, in a materialist reading, as a cynical sop to India’s most powerful opiate. But other readings are certainly possible and, perhaps appropriately, how one feels about the transfigured Guide at film’s end may ultimately depend on how one feel, and to my best of Hindi film following, Guide’ is exceptionally a beautiful film and worth a shower of praises for its sheer touch of celluloid liberty
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 for that year of release. 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.
Speaking of musicals, irrespective of drama, comedy or thriller, popular Indian movies usually always have song-and-dance sequences, which in a way is part of the popular culture and accepted so well in India