Can we imagine Dilip Kumar in Pyaasa, Shashi Kapoor in Sahib, Biwi Aur Ghulam and Shammi Kapoor in Aar Paar“? They were the 1st choices for Director Guru Dutt.
Vasant Kumar Shivashankar Padukone, better known as Guru Dutt, always wanted to be behind the camera and not in front of it. He indeed had wanted these acclaimed actors to do the role which ultimately he did- and performed with elan, so much so we cannot imagine anyone else doing these roles.
Guru Dutt as a director listened to his heart and did what he thought will be good for the movies. Aar-Paar was a light-hearted movie and he had thought Shammi Kapoor would do justice to it to the role of taxi-driver Kalu. The magic team of Majrooh Sultanpuri (lyrics) and OP Nayyar (music director) and Guru Dutt gave us some immortal songs such as Kabhi Aar kabhi paar, Babuji dhheere chalna, Ye lo mein haari piya, Sun sun sun sun Zaalima by Geeta Dutt and Shamsad Begum. True to Guru Dutt’s modest nature, though he is the hero there is not a single male solo song while there are five female solo songs.
Lets move on to Pyaasa. Recently Waheeda Rehman tweeted (on 11th september) that after Dilip Kumar did not show up at the sets Guru Dutt said Lagao Makeup, Camera. This shows his incredible self-confidence.
The role played by Guruji (Vijay) was first offered to Dilip saab. When he didn’t show up, Guruji said lagao make-up,Camera! https://t.co/h9AF8t2BEv
— Waheeda Rehman (@RehmanWaheeda) September 11, 2017
There are various speculative theories as to why Dilip Kumar did not act in Pyaasa. Some say he felt it was too similar and (it being 1957) was too close to Devdas (1955). Others say that his doctor advised him to avoid tragic roles for the time being and take up light roles too as being a method actor he was getting depressed. The 3rd theory is that he was late and Guru Dutt being strict took a painful decision to ensure discipline. Finally, Guru Dutt acted in Pyaasa and this movie among others made him immortal. Pyaasa too had some great songs.
In Sahib, Biwi Aur Ghulam, the role of Bhootnath was 1st offered to Shashi Kapoor as Guru Dutt felt that the sensitivity and pathos will be portrayed well by him. “Na Jao Saiyan Chhudaake Baiyan” and “Bhanwra bada naadaan hai” are two of the memorable songs of this movie.
Guru Dutt died a lonely death at 39 from an overdose of alcohol and sleeping pills. He was an enigma, a man who had everything but spurned it all as nothing was important for him.
Maybe Sahir Ludhianvi was thinking of Guru Dutt when penning the following immortal lyrics sung so beautifully by Rafi saab and picturised on Guru dutt himself in Pyaasa;
‘Yeh mehlon, yeh takhton, yeh taajon ki duniya; Yeh insaan ke dushman samaajon ki duniya, Yeh daulat key bhookhey rawajon ki duniya, Yeh duniya agar mil bhi jaaye to kya hai, Yeh duniya agar mil bhi jaaye to kya hai'”.