TV journalist and Bollywood biographer Yasser Usman has taken a deep dive into the journey of the lonesome, troubled genius, Guru Dutt. He had it all – money, love, fame, and validation from his audience. His films are still revered today by critics and students of cinema. His untimely death after multiple suicide attempts shocked the film industry.
Below are excerpts from a definitive biography of the non-conformist star, exploring the man and the myth – Guru Dutt.
In Guru Dutt’s family, Geeta Roy was the star
It was the evening of 26 May 1953. After three years of being engaged, Guru Dutt and Geeta Roy decided to get married. The wedding ceremony was performed at Geeta’s mother’s home, Amiya Kutir, in Santa Cruz, Bombay. It was a traditional Bengali style wedding. That morning some of Geeta’s close friends went to Guru Dutt’s flat on 12th Road, Khar with chandan paste and garlands. He was dressed in a white silk kurta and dhoti worn in the Bengali style.
His mother remembered, “With great pomp the wedding took place! It was the film industry’s sensation at the time.” The singing icons were there in full force too: Lata Mangeshkar, Talat Mahmood, Mohd Rafi, Hemant Kumar and Kishore Kumar. The best part of the reception was Guru Dutt’s chief assistant director, Raj Khosla, had persuaded each one of the top singers there to render something — with the condition that the song had to be from a Guru Dutt movie. And such was their love for Geeta that they all obliged. The only orchestral support for the singers was the “recurring bow-wow-wow of Guru Dutt’s inseparable dog, Tony”.
“I welcomed my first daughter-in-law by performing the ‘Bou-Bhaat’ ceremony according to our customs… I prayed to god for their long life, prosperity, health and happiness,” recalled Vasanthi. Geeta was very close to Guru’s sister Lalitha Lajmi, “I didn’t call her Bhabhi. I used to address her as Geeta. She was very generous and loving. She used to tell me, ‘Open my cupboard and pull out…