A must-read for all film buffs and serious students of film studies, says Santosh Bakaya, in her detailed review of Guide, The Film: Perspectives.
GUIDE, The film: Perspectives
Lata Jagtiani and Other Writers
Published by: Blue Pencil
Available on: Amazon (India), Amazon.com, Amazon.ca (Canada), Flipkart, Blue Pencil Worldwide
The moment one touches the book one realises that one is holding a very well-crafted treasure in one’s hands. Indeed a great book for film lovers in general; for Dev Anand and Vijay Anand fans in particular. Even a cursory look at this compilation will reveal the impeccable editing and painstakingly researched essays by music lovers, film critics and film buffs. Let me admit, without any misgiving, that this book undoubtedly competes with the best books produced by the biggest publishing houses of the country.
In the concluding paragraph of his very exhaustive, enlightening, and intellectually stimulating introductory essay Manek Premchand, who has authored numerous articles and music-related books, accurately observes, “You wonder where Hindi cinema would be without the music of Guide…The movie was great on many fronts, but many of us cannot imagine its greatness without its music.”
Through these essays, one once again relives the cinematic excellence of this classic; the incredible music, the screenplay and dialogues, which established Dev as a gifted actor, making him rise above just a flamboyant, stylish star which he had identified himself as.
In Kaanton se Kheench ke ye Aanchal: Women’s Emancipation, Ajay Kanagat, a businessman by profession and a writer by passion, says that although the film was about the journey of a man from a tourist guide to a spiritual one, Rosie’s emancipation, symbolised by the immortal song, Kaanton se kheench ke ye aanchal, was also an integral part of the film. Shailendra beautifully expressed the turbulence in her heart and her: flying bird-like, unfettered in the blue skies, emancipated from the shackles of an unhappy marriage.
Lata Jagtiani, a prolific writer, who has authored seven books and penned many reviews, very rightly says in her essay, Guide: A Perspective, “The effort to deconstruct a colossus like Guide is so daunting that, at first, one fears to begin; and then, having started, one doesn’t know where to end.”
In her concluding remarks, she says that the “Popularity and appeal of the film were due to the entire cast and crew, to those behind the scenes and in front of them; all of them collectively achieved a miracle while working on this risky project.” As a result of working on this film, they not only immortalized the film, but also “immortalized themselves” in the bargain.
In an extremely insightful essay, Wahaan Kaun Hai Tera, Musafir, Jayega Kahaan …Life in a Nutshell, written by Antara Nanda Mondal, a former business journalist, the Editor-in-chief of LearningAndCreativity.com, who writes extensively on cinema, especially music and film-making, observes that this song “Is arguably one of the most innovative and expansive beginnings in Indian cinema that weaves together a variety of cinematic elements, philosophical comments and thematic ideas with unforgettable music.”
In the Sojourn of a Soul, Deepa Buty, who has been writing music related articles for the past three years, says that Vijay Anand had indeed “delivered a masterstroke, embellished with a magnificent show of songs which decorated the stylish, flawless entertainer.” She says that initially she did not like Dev Anand in this new avataar, and silently cursed Vijay Anand for dragging him into a role which was a far cry from Dev Anand’s flamboyant, romantic image, but when she saw it again, her thought process took a turn of 180 degrees; she found herself watching an absolutely new, very fascinating film, mulling over the myriad nuances, calling it “the best thing that has happened to Indian celluloid,” and there she echoed my words.
Long years back , one bright Sunday morning, while strolling near our Government house in Sarojini Nagar, my foot touched something , and I peered down to find Raju Guide staring at me from the cover of a CD of Guide. Finders are keepers, I conveniently told myself, and headed home, clutching the CD. That was the beginning of my love affair with Guide. Before that I had seen it just once, but after I serendipitously found the brand new CD on the road, I must have seen the movie no less than twenty times, each time finding something new and fascinating in this extraordinary saga of an ordinary tourist guide turning into a dance impresario and then finally metamorphosing into a spiritual guru.
Sometimes it was Waheeda’s dance, Kaanton se kheench ke ye aanchal that had me in its grip; sometimes the haunting cadences of SD Burman’s music, at other times still, the nuggets of philosophical wisdom so effortlessly meted out by Raju the tourist guide turned spiritual guide.
Indeed, what a film! What dances! What music! What direction! What a theme! What cinematography! This book is one of a kind, in the sense that it is for the first time that fifteen writers from different walks of life have worked collaboratively on this classic trying to analyse it “in its multifaceted brilliance”, every essay offering something new.
In The Impact Points of an Undulating Story on Celluloid, Delhi-based writer and critic, Gaurav Sahay astutely points out that “the film is incredibly chiseled, without an iota of dispensable frivolity.” Drawing parallels with Robert Frost’s famous poem, The Road Not Taken, Sahay says that the lines in the poem seem to allude to Raju’s predicament when he decides to plough forth on the less- travelled road, although going back to his familiar milieu would have been more comforting.
In The Confluence of Conflicting Perspectives, Kalpana Swamy, besides being a seasoned communications professional, a music enthusiast and a hard-core film buff, deals at length with two songs and the moods that they portray – melancholic, angry, frustrated.. Let me cite just one example from the two songs that she talks about.
With Mose chhal kiye jaaye Rosie vents her ire thus, when Raju, in a fit of insane fear of losing her, forges her signature, and she, the hurt and anxious butterfly, flutters around on the stage, her body fierce and firm, “trying to cope with her anxious mind and trying to grasp the situation she has been put in.”
Dharmakirthi, a former banker with an almost congenital addiction to lyrics and music, waxes eloquent about Shailendra’s humongous talent in Shailendra’s Lyrical Narrative, concluding it in the following words, “Goldie may not have been able to make the impact he did, had he not had Shailendra’s lyrics to support him and, of course, had he not had Dada Burman’s magic wand to make this into an immortal movie.”
Well, indeed, it goes without saying that Shailendra definitely enriched the film with his mesmerizingly profound lyrics.
In The Guide: The Novel versus the Film, writer MV Devraj has nothing but praise for both the novel and the film and says that they are “master class creations and each will occupy top positions in their respective spheres of creativity”.
In the essay Les Acteurs Principaux: The Key Players and Their Personas with Psyche and Myth as Spicy Fillings, Dr Pisharoty Chandran, a psychiatrist, looks at the characters in the movie through the lens of a psychiatrist, making one analyse the movie in an absolutely new light. He calls Raju, a Histrionic Personality [HP]. “No one can miss him as he constantly draws attention to himself by his wardrobe, stylised speech, and a deep streak of narcissism.” Rosie is a typical Histrionic-Provocative Personality and her behavioural proclivities amply prove it. This was an essay I read at least thrice, thoroughly enriching myself as Dr Chandran deftly analysed the myriad hues and layered nuances of the film.
In his very informative essay, Navketan and Vijay Anand, Sundeep Pahwa writes with great erudition about the Navketan Banner and Vijay Anand as a screenplay writer, dialogue writer, editor, director, a teacher and inspiration, his unique manner of picturisation of songs and what the press had to say about this extraordinary man. Indeed, Vijay Anand was an entity, a star in his own right, who managed to create a respectable niche in the annals of film history. Jay Arjun Singh, in The Hindustan Times published on 6 June 2015, writing on the 50th anniversary of the release of Guide says, “If you call yourself a movie buff and haven’t yet seen Vijay Anand’s Guide, you must make up for that soon…Now more than 50 years old, and yet timeless, this is one of our cinematic landmarks and a testament to the possibilities of artistic collaboration.”
In another very interesting essay, A Spiritual Odyssey, Vijay Kumar says that although the film spans the spiritual odyssey of a tourist guide, it actually encapsulates more than one perspective, touching dizzying heights of sublimity towards the end.
The concluding chapter in the book by Bobby Sing, How Much do you Know on this Subject? is a very interesting questionnaire of twenty five questions on the English and Hindi versions of the film and the novel by RK Narayan, which I had a great time trying to crack.
The crux of the entire essay, The Power of the Spoken Word by Monica Kar lies in her following words, “Vijay Anand sprinkled a lot of gold dust – magical gold dust –while creating this unforgettable movie…Just a human journey that inspires each viewer to look more minutely at his own; while recognising the potential of his own infiniteness. The magical gold dust stays with you long after the movie has ended with the voice of the Atma: “Na sukh hai, na dukh hai, na deen hai, na duniya; na insaan, na Bhgwaan. Sirf main hoon, main hoon, main hoon. Sirf main!”
What a learning experience this book is! While reading the essays in the book, the magical music, the amazing lyrics, the screenplay and dialogues all come back to the reader with redoubled vigour and a fresh new perspective unfolds with every essay.
It is not an easy task to edit a collaborative venture, but the editorial team seems to have done a commendable task; there is no thematic overlapping in the various essays, the book is characterized by perfect alignment and any discerning reader can see the love and labour that has been collectively poured into this gem of a book by fourteen passionate writers.
Kudos to all the writers for this praise-worthy compilation of collaborative excellence: a must-read for all film buffs and serious students of film studies.
Let me conclude by reproducing words from the in-depth and highly illuminating article by Lata Jagtiani, “Of course, because Guide is a multi-layered film, it is a perfect treasure hunt for the students of cinema. Like a perfect tease, it seduces us; we go forward but it slips away just when we thought that we had it in our grip. Hypnotised by it, we return to it just as the hypnotised Raju returns to Rosie. Raju couldn’t have enough of Rosie, and we, of course still can’t have enough of Guide.”
Let me add to her voice of robust conviction and repeat that, “Guide is indeed the stuff of all classics. It belongs with the crème de le crème of world cinema”, and this unique book, when it tries to redefine the contours of this cult film, pays a great tribute to the resilience, creativity, single-minded determination of the masters who enriched this movie and made it an all-time classic.
Hats off to the writers for this collective gift to all movie buffs.
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