Sensitive, lyrical filmmaker Guru Dutt was only 39 when he died of an apparent suicide, but he nevertheless left behind a lasting mark on India’s cinematic history. Pyaasa (“Thirsty”), the most autobiographical of his works, is the story of a struggling young poet (Dutt) whose genius goes unrecognized until he is mistaken for dead and his work is “posthumously” published through the efforts of a golden-hearted prostitute (Waheeda Rehman). Suffused with an air of romantic longing, Pyaasa is both a celebration of the creative spirit and a harsh condemnation of society’s hypocritical attitude towards artists. Of all the remarkable films produced during Indian Cinema’s Golden Age, this is “the most soulfully romantic of the lot.”—Richard Corliss, Time Magazine.
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