Homage to Guru Dutt

Dear Vasant (GuruDutt for others),

I am sorry. Sorry for not being there. Not being there, when you needed me. Not me in particular. But it could have been anybody. So why was it not me!! That night after you had separated from your wife, Geeta and gone off to live in a separate flat at Peddar road. All by yourself! How badly you must have needed someone. How badly you must have sought respite from yourself. To take those pills. To take an overdose. Knowingly or in a fit. Conscious of its possible affects or just too possessed to get rid of your thoughts to care about anything. That night when you took them. Thet night when they took you. That night when it became your last night. How sorry I am. But what use is it, you ask. You are right. But what use was it. This taking pills, I say.
To tell you the truth, I was not there when you, well, died. Kinda. I could have been there, to be more truthful. In some other form. Some other body. Some other life. i dont know now. Like I dont know how crafty you really were when you were there. for all I know of you is through the lens of history. And it is a biased bitch, this history. Sometimes in favor, often otherwise. In your case, may be favorable. But then you knew that all along. Didnt you? Thats why you said in Pyaasa, “What kind of world is this where dead are worshipped and living ignored.” Is that why you died? Just because you didnt get enough recognition? Just for that? Whataty pity I would say if that is true. I am sure that wasnt the case. I would like to believe that. Just to let you know, you have become a very celebrated director post your untimely demise. They count you in Top 100 directors of all time. You would be delighted to know that “Kaagaz Ke Phool” has become a cult classic now. It flopped big time when it released. Didnt it. Must have hurt. Big time. For it was so close to your heart. As if you made it just for yourself. For that corner of yours which echoed with no one. You said something to that affect to your cameraman, V. K. Murthy, “This movie is not for the audience. It is for you and me.” You knew it already. Like everything else. I find it a tad too sentimental though. But forget me. Who am I? You hardly cared for the world. I am nothing in comparison.
But I liked you in Pyaasa. Not because I am a shayar of sort. I am but not of any sort. There was soemthing about it. Don’t know what. When you dont know what is good about something but you still like it, it means it is saying something beyond your comprehension. There was sentimentality here too, but just a tad bit okay. I liked you in Saheb Biwi aur Gulam too. Not quite. But just bit okay. I am too used to Shahrukh Khan to like your underplayed characters you see. Blame it on the nineties!

You were always trying to say something which no one quite understood. Nor did you. Or may be you did but were too embarrassed to say it. Somethings can not be said, they have to be understood. The moment you put them in words, they lose their meaning. They exist in that formless state. Like what they say, “maano to sona, na mano to mitti”. You said to Abrar Alvi once, “Dekho na, mujhe director banna tha, director ban gaya; actor bana tha, actor ban gaya; picture achche banane thay, achche banay. Paisa hai, sab kuch hai, par kuch bhi nahi raha.” He didnt get it. How could he. You also said “Life mein, yaar, kya hai? Do hi toh cheezen hai – kamyaabi aur failure. There is nothing in between.” They got this one. But not quite right. They said, you always wanted what someone else had. You always got excited about a new project and then would lose interest. They saw the symptoms. Not the cause. You did it because you were searching for something, which you looked for in every place. Everyone. And almost always felt disappointed. You were looking for that something which will get rid of that nagging feeling in you, of existential loneliness. Its not quite right word but there can not be a right word for this. For this is not expressable. Only understood. Partly. You wanted to have someone, something, the thought of which, the memory of which would stay with you, even if all else will lose you. Even when your own talents, your own will loses you. What will remain of you when all this that is fickle is gone. Nothing. You knew that so well. You said so in that movie of your “Kagaza Ke Phool”, which no one saw. No one likes a sad sentimental story. Just like no one quite liked that part of you. This sad sinking sentimentality. You yourself didnt like it. That is why I am sorry. I am sorry for not being there. May be, just may be I could have been around and understood it. And may be, may be you would still have been around if I was around. May be. Because one never knows about oneself. You may yourself have rejected my proposition of accepting your sad sentimentality. May be. May you rest in peace. Amen.


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