Guide was a path breaking film released on 6th December 1965 almost 55 years ago but whenever it is shown on TV one can still be found glued to the Television to see this movie. The film is based on the novel by R.K. Narayan the novelist brother of the famous common man cartoonist R.K. Laxman. People say that the movie was much better than the novel itself, and importantly, also much ahead of its time in terms of the storyline and the treatment given to it. The screenplay did not have a single dull moment.
Direction and screenplay of Guide are credited to Vijay Anand or Goldie the younger brother of Dev Anand (the hero of the movie) for their in-house banner Nav Ketan Films. Though he had done earlier movies but this movie discovered his craft and he went on to give us many super dupe hits like Teesri Manzil, Jewel Thief, Johnny Mera Naam, Tere Mere Sapne etc. A 120 minute English version of the movie was also said to have been made and released in the US which flopped but was later released in 2007 on the international festival circuit.
Raju (Dev Anand-affable) is a guide, and is popular by the name Raju Guide as the glib talker that he is, the movie begins with his release from the prison on his way back, at a cross road he sees signs showing the way to the city, his city Udaipur and his fond memories at this point he goes into flashback. He had a happy life and did what he loved for a living, showing people around the historic places in the city, back to reality he has second thoughts about going back to the city due to his incarceration and goes off in the opposite direction.
With nowhere to go he wanders around for a long time, loses all his belongings and also his moorings and tags along with a group of sadhus and then comes to settle in a temple in a village called Rampur, where because of his appearance and behavior people take him to be a sadhu or a godman and start consulting him for their day to day problems and the crowd swells by the day and there are discussions in the village of him being miraculous and receives a lot of adulation from them. In the meantime both the mother (Leela Chitnis) and the beloved Rosie (Waheeda Rehman-graceful) reach the jail to take Raju home but are told that he was released 6 months earlier due to good conduct. Rosie takes the mother, who hates her, to her home and recounts her own tales of woe as to how it all happened. We are taken thru another flashback albeit much longer one. As she was a daughter of a courtesan and was married off to a rich and aging archeologist who wanted her to be only a trophy wife and hated her dancing which she could not live without. The marriage started to become a burden as Marco (Kishore Sahu-brilliant) her husband had no interest in her.
In search of new discoveries he lands up in Raju’s city with wife in tow. As he has already hired Raju he becomes busy with excavations at the caves a distance away from the city, leaving the young wife alone in the care of Raju to take her around. Raju saves her from a potential suicide and slowly an affection develops between the two. Raju encourages Rosie to take her passion for dancing more seriously. As the shaky marriage breaks down she comes to Raju who gives her shelter against the wishes of his mother, family and friends, Raju takes on everyone and promotes her and the good dancer that she is, becomes instantly popular and highly paid stage show artist. The love story is also on an upswing as both live together and want to marry, but postpone it due to the busy schedule. Twist in the tale Marco wants her back and wants to meet Rosie but Raju does not allow, and out of jealousy forges her sign to close a joint account of Marco and Rosie and gets caught for forgery.
With no support from Rosie he is incarcerated. Back in present time Raju has been solving the problems of the villagers and has got them a school, a hospital and even a Post-office all is hunky-dory for him but then famine engulfs the village and the villagers request him to do something and remind him of the story he used to narrate about a saint who fasted for 12 days for rain and the Gods had to listen. In the beginning to save face in front of the villagers against his psyche he starts the fast, the word spreads like wild fire about a great saint fasting for the greater good and people from afar too come to get his glimpse it includes all his past dear ones, his friends and even his mother and Rosie. But by then he is beyond the worldly pleasures, slowly he accepts his saintliness and hears the voice of his conscience and continues the fast unto death though he has everything going for him. He does not want to break the villagers’ faith. He is drowned in the light of a spiritual revelation and then it rains but Raju is no more.
Guide has songs by penned by Shailendra’s fantastic lyrics that are relevant to what was going on the screen, melodiously composed by S.D. Burman it was magic taking the movie to the next level with each song. The picturisation of the song ‘Aaj phir jeene ki tamanna hai’ was shot on location at the Chittor fort in Rajasthan.
Guide is a tale of love lost but hope alive. It was received very well at the Box Office. It won all the top four Filmfare Awards that year viz. Best Film, Best Director, Best Actor and Best Actress it was the first film to do so. It was also the Official Indian entry for the 38th Academy Awards for the best foreign language film. It was also at no.4 on Time magazine list of all time Bollywood classics. A memorable film well made in all departments.
– Dev Anand’s Guide revisited by his fan PAWAN GUPTA