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Friday Review

Golden oldie

Dev Anand and Waheeda Rehman in 'Guide.' Photo: Special Arrangement

Dev Anand and Waheeda Rehman in 'Guide.' Photo: Special Arrangement  


Released in 1965, the Hindi ‘Guide’ was a super hit, whereas the English version flopped.

Author Pearl S. Buck was impressed by R. K. Narayan’s novel, ‘The Guide. ’ The story was appealing. So when she interacted with Bollywood actor Dev Anand at the Berlin Film Festival in 1962, she talked about doing an Indo-U.S. film venture based on the book.

This excited Dev Anand, who was basking in the glory of ‘Hum Dono,’ which had won acclaim at Berlin.

As soon as he returned to India, Dev Anand called on R.K. Narayan, whose book had already made him a Sahitya Academy winner. An interesting discussion followed, which ended happily for Dev Anand. He successfully convinced R.K. Narayan about creating a classic on celluloid based on the book and the author sold the rights of ‘The Guide,’ to the actor.

On Dev Anand’s request, Pearl S. Buck visited India. She penned the script of the English version and co-produced it. Directed by Tad Danielewski it starred Dev Anand, Waheeda Rehman and Kishore Sahu. It was Navketan’s most ambitious and expensive venture in colour. Chetan Anand was supposed to direct the Hindi version simultaneously. But Chetan wanted Leela Naidu as the heroine and intended to shoot her dance sequences in long shot, to which Dev Anand disagreed, as he felt that only Waheeda Rehman was ideally suited for the role of Rosy Marco. Chetan also had differences with Tad Danielewski and left the project. By that time, he had received permission from the Indian government to shoot his epic war film, ‘Hakeekat.’

Meanwhile, Dev Anand felt that Raj Khosla would be an apt choice to direct the Hindi version. But Waheeda Rehman was reluctant to work with him. So the youngest Anand brother, Vijay, stepped in. Keeping intact elder brother Chetan’s shot division for the title song, ‘Wahan Kaun Hai Tera,’ by S.D.Burman, Vijay wrote, directed and edited ‘Guide.’

The combination of the Anand brothers with Kishore Sahu, Shailendra, S.D.Burman and Fali Mistry created history.

The combination of the Anand brothers with Kishore Sahu, Shailendra, S.D.Burman and Fali Mistry created history. Shot in exclusive locales of Udaipur, ‘Guide’ was poetry on celluloid.

When Waheeda Rehman felt shy about delivering her bold dialogue in the famous cave scene, Vijay Anand convinced her about the essence of her lines. She shot the scene in three takes delivering her emotional best. He also gave her ample scope in the dance numbers to perform her best.

When Dev Anand was hesitant about doing his death scene, as he felt his fans would not accept it, an irritated Vijay was on the verge of declaring pack up. But Fali Mistry, a seasonal cinematographer, explained the details of the scene to Dev. Fathoming the importance of the situation, Dev Anand obeyed his younger brother’s instructions and gave a performance of a lifetime.

Backed by S.D. Burman’s evergreen melodies, ‘Guide’ became a super hit and was also critically acclaimed. It was India’s official entry for the Oscars in 1966. At the Chicago International Film Festival, Waheeda Rehman won the Best Actress Award. Both Dev and Vijay Anand refused to send ‘Guide’ for the National Awards as they abhorred malpractices by the jury.

Unlike the Hindi version, the English ‘Guide’ flopped. Tad Danielewski obviously did not understand the nuances. Moreover, for one scene he wanted Waheeda Rehman to dress in a revealing robe made from grass. She objected to it. Dev Anand also intervened and stopped Tad from shooting a scene that was not in the script. Later, Dev Anand said that Chetan Anand would have done justice to the English ‘Guide.’

After watching ‘Guide,’ R.K. Narayan was upset. In a hard hitting article in Life Magazine, he criticized the film, as it was different from the novel. He, however, complimented Dev Anand for performing the last scenes with finesse and Waheeda Rehman for making Rosy come alive on screen.

Fifty years after its release, ‘Guide,’ which Vijay Anand considered a writer’s triumph, is a classic.

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Printable version | Jun 18, 2018 7:33:15 PM |