Book review Kaagaz Ke Phool The Original Screenplay

Book review - Kaagaz Ke Phool - The Original Screenplay 'One of the finest works of Guru Dutt and Indian cinema's most famous flop ever' – Now it couldn't have been more ironical than this because back then when the film had released, it was a huge commercial disaster, so much so that it put Guru Dutt in debt and jeopardized the career of many others who were associated with the filmmaker. This film about the fall and fall of an acclaimed filmmaker could well have been adapted by Madhur Bhandarkar; if not for the jinx it set that a film within a film could seldom worked (it eventually did in Rang De Basanti though; however that is more of an exception)!

Coming back to Kaagaz Ke Phool, with Guru Dutt and Waheeda Rehman as a director and his actress, the film isn't quite a 'dirty picture', a la that famous film with Emraan Hashmi and Vidya Balan. Instead, it is a pensive drama about a filmmaker who just can't find himself back on his feet once he starts losing his craft. The fact that he is going through familial pressure only contributes further to his decline. His leading lady does try to bring him back in the reckoning but a self respecting man that the director is, he refuses to seek help. Now that doesn't help his cause any further, hence resulting in him suffering further lows.

While a plotline like this could well have been the tale of many a Bollywood celebrities in real life too, it exposes this harsh reality of behind-the-scenes happenings in the world of glamour by telling things as is, as described well in the screenplay that appears in English as well as Hindi. And to think of it, the film had released over 50 years back and still holds as topical an appeal as it gets. Sadly, back then the audience had given a unanimous thumbs-down to the film right at the premiere stage itself, as a result of which there were no takers for it whatsoever.

No wonder, Guru Dutt was totally shattered with the box office outcome of the film, as narrated (in limited detail though) by his son brother Devi Dutt, lead actress Waheeda Rehman, assistant director Shyam Kapoor and friend Dev Anand. Oh yes, there is this detailed interview with cinematographer VK Murthy too, but then that's purely for academic interest of those who wish to know a thing or two about lighting up a frame.

Though one isn't supremely thrilled with the details that come out of these interviews, they are still better than what most books centered on original screenplays carry. Moreover, for a film set in the 50s, there is only so much information that can be procured about its making.

Still, one must credit the authors here for making the best out of it and bringing some interesting episodes to the fore. Case in point being:

– How Simi Garewal had sued Guru Dutt
– How Guru Dutt's son Arun Dutt still expresses doubts whether his father had actually committed suicide
– How Waheeda Rehman had pointed out even before the release of Kaagaz Ke Phool that it would be a flop
– How after the film's failure, Guru Dutt had offered termination letter to his staff, only to revoke them at the last minute

Moreover, there is one thing that 'Kaagaz Ke Phool – The Original Screenplay' does absolutely right – It sets the record straight on whether the film was actually a Guru Dutt biography or not. Now to reveal that here would be an injustice to authors Dinesh Raheja and Jitendra Kothari but the fact remains that they meet quite a few personalities related to the film and get the fact straight. It is this endeavor to extract truth and many other anecdotes around one of the finest works of Guru Dutt that makes this 200 page book an interesting read.

Price: Rs. 595/=

Rating: ***1/2

Article written by staff at Bollywood Hungama. Read more

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