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Film poster
Directed by Guru Dutt
Produced by Guru Dutt
Written by Abrar Alvi
Starring Guru Dutt
Mala Sinha
Waheeda Rehman
Johnny Walker
Music by S. D. Burman
Cinematography V.K. Murthy
Editing by Y. G. Chawhan
Release date(s) February 19, 1957
Running time 146 min.
Country India
Language Hindi

Pyaasa (Hindi: प्यासा; Urdu: پیاسا; English: Thirsty) is a 1957 Indian film produced and directed by Guru Dutt. The film tells the story of struggling poet, Vijay (Guru Dutt), trying to make his works known in post-independence India. Gulabo (Waheeda Rehman in her first major leading role in Hindi cinema), a prostitute with a heart of gold,[1] eventually helps him get his poems published. The music was composed by S.D. Burman.

With the commercial success of thrillers like Baazi, Jaal, Aar Paar and C.I.D. as well as comedies like Mr. & Mrs. '55, Guru Dutt and his studio were financially secure and established. From 1957, he could now make movies he really wanted to make, including Pyaasa. In 2002, Pyaasa was ranked at #160 on the Sight & Sound critics' and directors' poll of all-time greatest films.[2] In 2005, Pyaasa was rated as one of the 100 best films of all time by Time Magazine, which called it "the soulfully romantic of the lot."[3] Indiatimes Movies ranks the movie amongst the Top 25 Must See Bollywood Films.[4]



Guru Dutt, as Vijay the struggling poet

Vijay (Guru Dutt) is an unsuccessful poet whose works are not taken seriously by publishers or his brothers (who sell his poems as waste paper). Unable to bear their taunting that he is a good for nothing, he stays away from home and is often out on the streets. He encounters a good-hearted prostitute named Gulabo (Waheeda Rehman), who is enamoured with his poetry and falls in love with him. He also encounters his ex-girlfriend Meena (Mala Sinha) from college and finds out that she is married to a big publisher Mr. Ghosh (Rehman) for financial security, who hires him as a servant to find out more about him and Meena. A dead beggar to whom Vijay gave his coat and whom he tries to save unsuccessfully from the path of a running train is mistaken for Vijay. Gulabo goes to Ghosh and gets his poems published. Ghosh does so feeling he can exploit the poems and make a killing. But Vijay is alive and in hospital after the train mishap.

Ghosh and Shyam, Vijay's close friend, refuse to recognise him and he is committed to a mental asylum since he insists he is Vijay and is thought to be mad. Vijay's brothers too are bought off by Ghosh not to recognize him and a memorial is held for the dead poet. Vijay with the help of his friend Abdul Sattar (Johnny Walker) escapes from the mental asylum and reaches the memorial service where he denounces this corrupt and materialistic world. Seeing that Vijay is alive his friend and brothers take side with a rival publisher for more money and declare this is Vijay. At a function to honour him, Vijay becomes sick of all the hypocrisy in the world around him and declares he is not Vijay. He then leaves with Gulabo to start a new life.


In the original ending Guru Dutt wanted to show that Vijay left all alone but on the distributors' insistence the ending was changed.

The role of Shyam was originally to be played by Guru Dutt's real life friend, Johny Walker but was then assigned to one of Guru Dutt's assistant directors. Guru Dutt wanted to film red light area scenes on locations in Kolkata (then Calcutta) but the crew was attacked by a group of pimps. Guru Dutt however recreated sets on the basis of photos taken at Kolkata.

It is also surmised that the story is based on the life of film's lyricist Sahir Ludhianvi who had failed affair with poet and writer Amrita Pritam during their college days.


Memorable quotes

  • Vijay: Apne shauk ke liye pyaar karti hai aur apne aaram ke liye pyar bechti hai.

[For the sake of her hobby she gives her love, and for the sake of her comfort she sells her love.]

  • Vijay: To phir main yahan kya kar raha hun. Main kyon zinda hun, Gulabo?

[What am I doing here? Why am I alive, Gulabo?]

  • Vijay: These smiling flowers, these fragrant gardens, this world filled... with glorious colors. The nectar intoxicates bees. What little have I to add to this splendor... a few tears, a few sighs.
  • Vijay: ...I'm not that Vijay


The movie boasts one of the best performances of S.D. Burman, Sahir Ludhianvi, Geeta Dutt and Mohammed Rafi to produce one of the most lyrical Hindi musicals. Pyaasa marked the last collaboration of the long-lasting team of composer S D Burman and lyricist Sahir Ludhianvi.[5]

In 2004, the soundtrack for Pyaasa was chosen as one of "The Best Music in Film" by Sight & Sound, the British Film Institute magazine.[6]

The film then and now

  • The film is based on a book written by author and poet Chandra Shekhar 'Prem', from Himachal Pradesh. It was partly based on his life story. He was a struggling poet in the 1950s at the time and took the book to Bollywood. He sold the story and its rights for Rs.500, so was never given any credit for his work. He went on to publish many books in Hindi and Urdu he was never recognised as the true author of this work. He died in 2002.
  • There was a debate between writer Abrar Alvi and Guru Dutt on film’s ending. Abrar wanted the protagonist to accept and compromise with the prevailing material social reality; Guru Dutt insisted otherwise.
  • Song Sar jo tera chakraye composed by S.D Burman was actually based on tune composed by his son R.D Burman.
  • Pyaasa was to be made with actresses, Nargis Dutt and Madhubala in the roles Mala Sinha and Waheeda Rehman played eventually. But the two actresses couldn't decide which role they wanted to play and Guru Dutt eventually opted for two then new actresses, Mala and Waheeda.[7]
  • Guru Dutt wanted Dilip Kumar to play the leading role in the movie, which the tragedy king declined. Guru Dutt himself played and movie went on to become one of the most commercially successful movies of the year.
  • The popular song "Hum aapki aankhon mein" was added to the movie on behest of distributors to bring some relief in rather pessimist film. It was never planned in original cut.[1]
  • After a slow opening, Pyaasa went on to be a major commercial success of the year. This gave Guru Dutt the confidence to make a repeat on a grand scale. However, Kaagaz Ke Phool went on to be a commercial disaster. Ironically, the movie picked up a cult following world over in 1980s much after Guru Dutt died.
  • Waheeda Rahman's role in Pyaasa was based on a real life character. Abrar Alvi and his friends were visiting Bombay and they decided to visit the red light area. Alvi got talking to a girl who called herself Gulabo. According to Alvi " As I left, she thanked me in a broken voice, saying that it was the first time that she had been treated with respect, in a place where she heard only abuses. I used-her exact words in the film"[8]
  • Guru Dutt and his movies, including Pyaasa, have a large cult following in France and Germany. It was a huge commercial success during its 1984 French Premiere, ironically something Guru Dutt never witnessed during his lifetime. Since then, the movie has been screened to huge mass appeal world over, like the recent screening at the The 9th International Festival of Asian Cinema held in Vesoul, in February 2003,[9]
  • Is a Time top 100 movie of all times
  • Is a Time readers choice top 10 movie of all times[10]
  • Film was later remade in Telugu as Malle Poovu (1975)[11]


  1. ^ Anindita Ghose (August 2006). "Of Names of Women in Hindi Cinema.: An Exploration in Semantics". e-Social Sciences. Retrieved 2009-04-02. 
  2. ^ "2002 Sight & Sound Top Films Survey of 253 International Critics & Film Directors". Cinemacom. 2002. Retrieved 2009-04-19. 
  3. ^ "The Complete List." All-Time 100 Movies Time Magazine. 2005
  4. ^ 25 Must See Bollywood Movies - Special Features-Indiatimes - Movies
  5. ^ Pyaasa
  6. ^ Olivier Assayas (September 2004). "The Best Music in Film". Sight & Sound. Retrieved 2009-04-26. 
  7. ^ Pyaasa: Guru Dutt's masterpiece
  8. ^
  9. ^ Embassy Of India - Paris
  10. ^ Readers Top Rated - ALL-TIME 100 movies - TIME
  11. ^ Telugu Cinema - Research - Analysis - Over dose of love stories

External links



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