Guru Dutt was born at Bangalore in Karnatka to Shivsankar Rao Padukone and Vasanthi Padukone. Guru Dutt did his schooling at Kolkata, where his father was an administrative clerk in Burmah Shell Company. Guru Dutt joined the Uday Shankar India Culture Centre at Almora, Uttaranchal on a five year scholarship of Rs. 75 annually. After completing his studies at Almora Dutt moved to Mumbai where his uncle arranged a job under three year contract with Prabhat Film Company in Pune. Guru Dutt met two great actors Rehman and Dev Anand in Prabhat Film Company
And they developed good friendship.
Guru Dutt made his debut in films with a small role as Sri Krishna in the film “Chand”. Then he acted as well as assisted director Vishram Bedekar in the movie “Lakhrani”. Prabhat Film Company collapsed in 1947 and Guru Dutt moved to Mumbai. In Mumbai Guru Dutt worked with two leading directors of that time- Amiya Chakravarthy and Gyan Mukherjee. Thereafter Dev Anand offered him a job as director in his new production company, Navketan. As director at Navketan his first film was “Baazi”. Guru Dutt used close-up shots with 100mm lens camera in the film “Baazi”, which later became famous as ‘Guru Dutt Shots’ in the Indian
Cinema. The film “Baazi” was an immediate success. Guru Dutt gave many super hit films as director as well as actor. Some of them were “Aar Paar”, “Mr. & Mrs. 55”, “Pyasa”, “C I D”, “Sailab”, “Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam” and “Chaudhvin Ka Chand’. Guru Dutt took his last breath on 10th October, 1964, in his rented apartment at Pedder Road in Mumbai.
Vasanth Kumar Shivashankar Padukone, famously known as Guru Dutt, was a renowned Indian filmmaker, most remembered for his cult classics such as ‘Pyaasa’ and ‘Kaagaz Ke Phool’. He was one of the greatest icons of commercial Indian cinema of all time and his movies were some of the best ever made. His style of film making was very contemporary, sometimes ahead of his generation which is evident from the fact that he first used close-up shots with 100mm lens camera in his films which later became famous as ‘Guru Dutt Shots’ in the Indian cinema. Ironically his films earned recognition and interest much later in the 1970s and the 1980s and have received a cult following in the recent past. His movies dealt with a wide range of subjects such as love, poverty, unemployment, equality and social values. In addition to being a great director, he was also a phenomenal artist who excelled in action, production, writing and even choreography. He had a difficult marriage and that probably led to his untimely death at the age of just 39. Despite all his struggles, his imaginative use of light and shade, and a striking ability to weave multiple thematic layers into his narratives, he is considered as one of the greatest filmmakers of Indian cinema.
Childhood & Early Life– He was born on July 9, 1925 in Bangalore, India, to Shivashanker Rao Padukone and his wife, Vasanthi Padukone. He had three younger brothers, Atmaram, Devidas and Vijay and a younger sister, Lalitha.
His father used to work as a headmaster and later became a bank employee. His mother was a homemaker who gave private tuition and also wrote short stories. He spent his early childhood in Bhowanipore area of Calcutta where Bengali culture and intellect became a part of his personality.
Career- He started his career as a telephone operator at a Lever Brothers factory in Kolkata. But soon he left the job and returned to his parents in Mumbai in 1944.
Later he was hired as a choreographer to work under a three-year contract with ‘Prabhat Film Company’ in Pune. He later went on to become an actor in the company and also served as an assistant director.
In 1944, he acted in a small role as Sri Krishna in the movie ‘Chand’. The next year he worked as an actor and an assistant director in the movie ‘Lakhrani’. In 1946, he served as an assistant director and choreographed dances for the film ‘Hum Ek Hain’. In 1947, the contract with the film company ended and he was given the job of a freelance assistant with Baburao Pai, the CEO of the Prabhat Film Company and Studio. But soon he was rendered unemployed and wrote short stories for ‘The Illustrated Weekly of India’, a local weekly English magazine.
The turning point in his life came, when Dev Anand asked him to direct the movie ‘Baazi’ under Dev Anand’s production company. The film released in 1951 and became an instant hit.
He went on to direct two more films, ‘Jaal’ (1952) and ‘Baaz’ (1953), but none of them proved to be successful at the box office. In 1954, he directed, produced as well as acted in the movie ‘Aar Paar’ which was an immediate success. Later, he directed several other movies such as ‘Mr. and Mrs. 55’ (1955), ‘Sailaab’ (1956) and ‘Pyaasa’ (1957). He was also the leading actor in ‘Mr. and Mrs.55’ and ‘Pyaasa’, both of which received commercial as well as critical appreciation.
In 1959, he made his most ambitious project ‘Kaagaz Ke Phool’ but it proved to be a bitter disappointment at the box office and he lost over 1.7 million producing the film. Later, he acted in a couple of movies under his production: ‘Chaudhvin Ka Chand’ (1960) and ‘Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam’ (1962). Both the movies proved to be commercially and critically very successful. He also acted in some movies outside his production such as ‘12 O’ Clock’ (1958), ‘Bharosa’ (1963), ‘Bahurani’ (1963),‘Suhagan’ (1964), and his last project ‘Sanjh Aur Savera’ (1964).
Personal Life & Legacy– In 1953, he married Geeta Dutt, a professional playback singer, despite strong family opposition. They were blessed with three children: Tarun, Arun, and Nina. But the couple had an unhappy married life and later separated because of his workaholic nature and partly because of his relationship with actress Waheeda Rehman. He had attempted suicide a couple of times before his death but was rescued by friends. He died on October 10, 1964 from an over consumption of alcohol and sleeping pills. It is still a mystery whether his death was a suicide or an accidental overdose.
On His Last Day- His younger brother and filmmaker Devi Dutt has strongly denied that speculations of Guru Dutt killing himself out of melancholic frustration. In an interaction with Filmfare Devi had narrated, “After Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam, Guru Dutt and Bhabhi had patched up. It was decided that the entire family would stay together at 48 Pali Hill once it was redeveloped. On October 9, 1964 he was at his studio with Tanuja, Rehman and director Shaeed Latif for his production Baharein Phir Bhi Aayegi. But Malaji (Sinha) had got stuck in Madras. So the shooting got postponed. Bhabhi had gone to the children’s school for PTA and was supposed to send Tarun and Arun across in the evening. We left for home in the car. He asked me to buy kites and manjha from Bandra as he wanted to fly kites with the children over the weekend. Then we stopped at Charag Din at Colaba. He bought clothes for the boys and also some for me.” Further adding, “Then we stopped at Kanji Bhai broker’s house at Marine Lines to collect whisky bottles. Guru Dutt asked him to get his money back from investors as he wanted to import coloured stock for Kaneez. When we reached home, he went into the kitchen and began preparing omelettes. He said he’d cook more often when we all lived together. He said that we brothers would occupy the 9th and 10th floors, from where we’d watch the sunset every evening. Just then walked in our Chartered Accountant, Gole saab. He informed Guru Dutt of the ‘final notices’ from the IT department for the taxes pending since the past two years. They got into a heated argument. Gole saab warned that the IT department could raid the studio, office and home anytime. Guru Dutt asked me to go home.”
“On the way out I met Abrar Alvi. I asked him to convey Bhabhi’s message to Guru Dutt – that she wouldn’t be sending the kids as it was late. That was my last evening with Guru Dutt. The next day, he was no more. I still maintain he did not commit suicide. It must have been due to the sleeping pills after heavy drinking with Abrar,”