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A 58-year-old film that speak to Indians of 2015

November 05, 2015 22:34 IST

Guru Dutt and Waheeda Rehman in Pyaasa

'India was 10 years old when Guru Dutt made Pyaasa, but even at that young age, its poets -- including the film's lyricist Sahir Ludhianvi -- appeared disappointed with the direction the country was taking,' asks Aseem Chhabra.

The 17th MAMI Mumbai Film Festival screened some of the best Indian and international films.

Among them were Vetri Maran's hard-hitting Tamil film about police brutality Interrogation and Ruchika Oberoi's Island City, with three converging stories. Both films were screened at the Venice International Film Festival as well.

The MAMI audience were also treated to restored masterpieces, including Satyajit Ray's The Apu Trilogy and Guru Dutt's 1957 classic Pyaasa.

Pyaasa has been restored by Ultra Video and Entertainment and the film's new print premiered at Venice. Ultra also plans to release the film theatrically in India.

The MAMI screening I attended was not completely sold out, but there was so much excitement among those who chose to watch a 58-year-old black and white film, over other options.

They quietly absorbed the seductive charm of Waheeda Rahman, laughed at Johnny Walker's humour, and burst into spontaneous applause when Guru Dutt sang Jaane Woh Kaise in Hemant Kumar's soulful voice.

But the loudest applause was reserved for the Mohammed Rafi song Jinhe Naaz Hai Hind Par Woh Kahan Hai.

India was 10 years old when Guru Dutt made Pyaasa, but even at that young age, its poets -- including the film's lyricist Sahir Ludhianvi -- appeared disappointed with the direction the country was taking.

And in context of today's India, with its divisive political and social mood, the last stanza of the song drew genuine cheers from the MAMI audience:

Zara Is Mulk Ke Rahbaro Ko Bulao
Yeh Kuche Ye Galiya Ye Mazar Dikhao
Jinhe Naaz Hai Hind Par Unko Lao
Jinhe Naaz Hai Hind Par Woh Kahan Hai

Who would have imagined that a 58-year-old film, which was so ahead of its time, would speak to the Indians of 2015?

Aseem Chhabra in Mumbai