#69 #Scriptors100BestFilms #Guide
Is man’s hunger and rains interrelated? Does faith have power over god? Is there a god? Guide attempts to find the answers to these questions and on the way reveals the spiritual journey and self-discovery of Raju guide.
Based on R.K. Narayan’s timeless tale of love and spirituality, ‘Guide’ highlights the meaningfulness of following our heart. It may be impractical, even self destructive, but it gives us the sense of transcendent fulfillment.
This is a story of a tour-guide, Raju, and an unhappy and disgruntled wife of an egotistic sculptor, Rosie, who the destiny brings together. Raju instills the sense of worth in Rosie and they decide to make a world of their own. Guide explores how they experience the love and hate, passion and betrayal, fame and success, and eventually how Raju sets on the path of his own spiritual discovery.
Noting explains Goldie better than his own masterpiece ‘Guide’. Like his path breaking heroine, Goldie was a rebellious director, who refused to follow the set norms and made movies that seemed right in his heart. His movies were always ahead of their times and often set new trends. Many aspects, such as savoir-faire and perceptive screenplays, aptly meaningful filming of the beautiful songs, innovative camera techniques, and avant-garde methods of establishing flashbacks prove that he was the man who changed the contemporary cinema.
The film reflects his interpretation of the book through a simple philosophy – Studying thousands of books and feeling wise won’t help when the real life hits you. The life has the real knack to test your limits and endurance, and it’s the life that can bring out a total stranger out of you. The title ‘Guide’ itself refers to the life, which leads the two protagonists into the material world of passion, fame, and success, and then on to the paths of knowledge, truth, salvation, and love.
The film is so multilayered that every frame of the film is a subject of study. For instance, the song ‘Yahan Kaun Hai Tera?” glimpses through Raju’s past, his trials & tribulations, and his present state of mind. The song concludes on a stirring image of a wandering mystic covering static Raju with a saffron wrap. Saffron color alludes the spirit of sacrifice & forgo, indicating Raju has relinquished all worldly temptations & grievances and is headed toward a new momentous start. The same layered picturization was done for another song ‘Aaj Phir Jeene Ki Tamanna Hai’ where smashing a terracotta pot or jumping from one pillar to another symbolizes Rosie’s freedom.
The original creator of the story & characters, R.K. Narayan, definitely deserves to be credited with the film’s soul, but so is equally important the contributions of the director Vijay Anand who added multiple dimensions to these aspects, as well as the breakthrough performances by Dev Anand and Waheeda Rahman who brought these characters alive on the screen. In this film Dev isn’t Dev and Waheeda isn’t Waheeda, but they are Raju and Rosie, and they never fall short at involving the audience into their spiritual journey of love.
Guide was definitely ahead of its time and utterly bold. An affair between a tourist guide and a married woman, open talks of carnal pleasure, wife’s sexual demands from her husband are some things that can be considered taboo in India even today – the reason why Vijay Anand’s Valiance is highlighted for bringing all this on the silver screens 50 years ago.
However, sheer bravery isn’t the only element worth appreciating. It’s also the honesty of the romance, jealousy, and betrayal between Raju and Rosie that captivates our mind. Where an ordinary film would end, that’s exactly where Guide takes off. Destitute and hungry, Raju is mistaken as a god-man by the villagers, who see purity in him. Although trodden by self-doubt, Raju decides to play along, and unbeknownst to himself starts to discover the soul he never knew existed. When the drought falls upon the village, the same blind faith that made the villagers love Raju, also makes them expect a miracle from him and they coax him into fasting in order to bring the rain. Despite knowing it wouldn’t help, the now transformed Raju goes on a fast to keep their faith and hope alive, only to die on the same day when the rain befalls.
Toward the climax Raju starts talking to himself, which some may perceive as a phenomenon occurring due to hunger, but the director explores this in a very different light through a dialogue, in which Raju says, “Aisa lagta hai mano aaj sari ichhaein puri hongi. Lekin maza to dekho… aaj koi ichha hi nahi.” (It feels as if all desires are fulfilled. But how strange! I have no desire left today that needs to be fulfilled.”) Ultimately Raju does what he does best – he guides his soul to a place of spiritual ecstasy.
When the rain befalls, it’s doesn’t seem like rain, but seems like answers to all the questions he was asking all his life.