A Relook at the film 'Kagaz ke Phool'

A film that tells the tale about why we don't get what we love and why do we love what we would not get?

Kaagaz Ke Phool, released in 1959, was the last film to be directed by Guru Dutt.

The film failed to garner commercial and critical success in its time, which is said to have caused a major setback to Guru Dutt. Nevertheless in the following years the film became integral to the list of classics of world cinema.

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Suresh Sinha (played by Guru Dutt) is a dedicated, successful film director who is very passionate and particular about his filmmaking.

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He has a daughter who is in hostel whom he adores a lot but he is not allowed to meet her due to his wife and in-laws.

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His wife Veena and her parents despise Suresh's work as a film-maker, as they see his work unworthy to be associated to their rich and elite living standards.

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Suresh happens to meet Shanti (played by Waheeda Rehman) one evening, where he gives her his coat to save her from the rains.

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Back in the studio, Suresh is working on his next film. He is still looking for the suitable actress who can play the female lead character. Shanti who is visiting the studio to return the coat happens to step into the shooting and disrupt the shot.

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Sinha, while looking at the rushes, find Shanti appropriate to play the female lead character for the film: Paro.

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Shanti feels dejected to act in the film listening to dismissal by other members of the film. But after interaction with Shanti  and knowing her struggles as an orphan, Sinha is even more sure that she is perfect to play the role of Devdas' Paro.

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Devdas being the film that Sinha is making, and Shanti being his choice for Paro, there is a clear alluding to the classic novel and Bimal Roy's film Devdas. 

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Shanti, finds understanding and appreciation by Sinha very touching. She is also able to sense and comprehend Sinha easily and thus feels a bond with him.

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Sinha gets seriously injured in an accident and needs attention. His wife refuses to travel down to him. Shanti is willing to nurse Sinha, but Sinha insists that she should not bother.

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After recovering, Sinha returns to the studio he and Shanti meet each other with deeper connection and interest, only to feel the pain that they cannot be together as Sinha is already married.

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Meanwhile the news of a licentious affair between Sinha and Shanti have started doing rounds in the media. Sinha's daughter is embarrassed listening to gossip about her already distanced parents.

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She decides to confront Shanti about her alleged illicit affair with her father. Shanti tries to defend her love for Sinha, but she is not able to supersede Pammi's pain to be living like an orphan despite having her both parents alive.

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Compelled by Pammi's promise, Shanti decides to leave acting  and go somewhere away from Sinha, despite gaining enormous success and appreciation for her work as an actress.

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Sinha gets upset with Pammi on knowing that she made Shanti leave.

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But he is not able to say anything to stop Shanti and they both concede to the situation in the interest of Pammi.

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Having lost Shanti, Sinha is also not able to defend the custody of his daughter, as courts find it befitting for Pammi to grow with her 'well to do mother' and not with her unreliable filmmaker father.

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Sinha is jolted by these losses and thus takes to alcohol and so he is unable to bring back attention and interest to his work.

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His films flop and he no more enjoys the confidence of his producers.

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Consequently he suffers major financial setbacks and so he is left wandering penniless on the streets.

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On the other hand, Shanti is teaching in a village and she is still being sought by the film producers. She agrees to acting because of the proposal that Sinha will direct the film, and thereby his overall situation will improve.

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But Sinha knows that producers aren't really interested in him. They are getting him back only to be able to cast Shanti. He thus refuses to return to directing films in order to not loose his dignity.

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Sinha's daughter, who is now a grown-up  woman, is looking for her father to invite him for her marriage. Shanti tells her Sinha is lost in the unknown realms and can't be found easily.

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In a chance encounter, Sinha hides himself from his daughter, so that she does not see him in his tattered, impoverished state.

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Once, mistaken as an extra (actor) among other extras,  Sinha lands up in the film studio, where he ends up in a shooting with Shanti.

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In the beginning, there was a famous director and an unknown ordinary woman, this situation is completely flipped. Shanti is now a well known actress and Sinha an insignificant man from the streets. 

Despite the reversal, their mutual love, understanding and concern for each other remains intact. Their deep inner connect and bond is shown to be more stable and profound than the external situations and circumstances that always had better of them.

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Much like the love between Devdas and Paro, Sinha and Shanti's effortless empathetic association also leaves the viewer with the question: why despite loyal, devotional conjunction, two committed lovers often do not find it possible to be together?

Credits: Story

Story and curation: Abhishek Kukreja

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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