Pyaasa: The Greatest Indian Film Ever?

Director- Guru Dutt
Story- Abrar Alvi
Music- Sachin Dev Burman
Lyrics- Sahir Ludhianvi

History of Indian Cinema is now more than 100 years old but there have been only a few instances where we have truly cherished its brilliance.  Satyajit Ray, Bimal Roy and Guru Dutt have made some really impactful cinema on which we can feel proud even today.  One such masterpiece in the Bollywood world is Guru Dutt’s “Pyaasa”. Today, we will talk about this life-changing movie and how the characters of this movie gave Indian cinema a new milestone to be proud of.

Through ‘Pyaasa’ we witnessed one of the greatest moments on the screen and a theme which we had never seen or experienced earlier. Let’s explore what makes this movie great. Why was it only Hindi entry in Sight & Sound’s Top 250 greatest films ever made and TIME’s All-Time 100 Movies?


The film is about a poet who is struggling to get his poems published. During his struggle, he meets a prostitute who admires his poetry and falls in love with her. He then starts to question the concepts of society, materialistic world, corruption and politics in daily life. The film is set in the post-Independence period but it is not about the greatness of a nation. Guru Dutt opted the other way to showcase this era and made a futuristic point through his cinema where brothers are greedy, where the money is more important than love, where poverty has started affecting daily lives.

In ‘Pyaasa’ Guru Dutt does not sympathize with his audience, instead, this movie is dense with the ideas of social stigmas. Guru Dutt took the brave route and showed the reality to the audience. And in this process, he spared no one not even his family, not his past lover, friends or the society around him. Guru Dutt clearly showed the existing hypocrisy in the society, where no one close to him cared about him as much as someone for whom the society didn’t care about. In ‘Pyaasa’ Guru Dutt taught us that more than the poverty of money, people have the poverty of thoughts and humanity.


a- Vijay:

The character of Vijay is played by Guru Dutt himself. Originally he wanted ‘Dilip Kumar’ to play this role but Dilip Kumar rejected it. In the movie, Vijay is a struggling poet who is educated but unemployed. His brothers had thrown him out and he has also been failed in love. He is Idealistic than his other friends and only one who treats a prostitute with respect and in her he finds his true love. Incidents which happens with him in the movie force him to become cynical. After seeing this corrupted world, materialistic society and a selfish lover, Vijay understands that this world has nothing for him. In the final climax of the film he performs for the audience with his pessimistic but realistic view of the society with the words like “मेरे सामने से हटा दो ये दुनिया, तुम्हारी है तुम ही संभालो ये दुनिया ” which translates “ Move this world away from me, It is yours, You take care of this world”. The character of ‘Vijay’ is very believable and thought-provoking. Guru Dutt developed & played this character so beautifully that the youth of every generation connects with him until today. ‘Vijay’ becomes the enlightened one after seeing the materialistic world around him and this genuine portrayal of a man played by Guru Dutt will surely leave its impact on your life too.

b- Meena:

Mala Sinha played the character of ‘Meena’, Vijay’s ex-lover. Through her character, Guru Dutt and Abrar Alvi showed that for some people, love can be less important than money. ‘Meena’ left Vijay because he followed his passion for poetry and became jobless. She then gets married to a publisher who is rich. Her character is selfish and for her, love is only a trade. Although, as the movie continues, she realises that she has made a mistake and is still in love with Vijay but until then Vijay loses faith and love for her. Mala Sinha has played this character beautifully and maturely too.


c- Gulabo:

Waheeda Rehman, in her debut playing the character of Gulabo. By profession, she is a prostitute who never received love and respect from society. She is the first one in the movie who recognizes and loves the poetry of Vijay. Inspired by Abrar Alvi’s real-life experiences of meeting a prostitute in Calcutta, Gulabo had a heart of gold and she was only a capable soul in the film who understands Vijay and later falls in love with him. Through Gulabo, Guru Dutt showed us that one can find love in a place where they least expect it.


Pyaasa’s music is eternal and there are many things that make the music of this movie a worth remembering one. Famous for his music till today, Sachin Dev Burman has displayed his brilliant music skills in the movie and the lyrics have been written by the greatest writer/poet of all times, Sahir Ludhianvi, whose words have always been earth-shattering.

The love story in Pyaasa (between Meena and Vijay) is also inspired from the Sahir’s real life.SD Burman and Sahir with the voices of Mohd. Rafi, Hemant Kumar and Geeta Dutt made every song timeless. SD Burman composed every song according to the mood of the film like when Vijay was in love with Meena during their college days, he feels optimistic which the audience experienced through the song “Hum aapki aankhon mein, Is dil ko basa toh” or when Vijay’s character starts to feel changes from inside, lyrics like “Jinhe naaz hai hind pe woh kahan hain” show his inner emotions. With hard-hitting songs and sublime music, the picturisation of these songs are also commendable. Moreover, with the versatility of singers, Songs like “Sar jo tera chakraaye” were also in the movie for some comic relief and songs like “Yeh duniya agar mil bhi jaaye toh kya hai” show us the real side of the society. Album of Pyaasa is still the greatest album of all times in the history of Indian cinema.

Pyaasa was the first movie which blurred the line between Art cinema and Commercial cinema. Pyaasa was a blockbuster during those times and with changing times more and more people started to understand the theme of the poetry which Pyaasa conveys through its story, art, songs and dialogues. This movie was way ahead of its time. Guru Dutt died a few years later after directing this film. Had he lived for few more years he would’ve seen the impact Pyaasa made on people’s life. Pyaasa was thought-provoking and it also educated the audience with entertainment, which makes this movie different from other movies of that time. I am yet to see an Indian film that could be as daring as ‘Pyaasa’. It is a must-watch for every cinema lover, and if you haven’t watched it yet, we would suggest you to definitely watch it and experience the power of Guru Dutt’s thought-provoking style.


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