Guide (1965, Hindi)
1 Jan 2013
Director: Vijay Anand (120 mins)

Reviews: RottenTomatoes (96%), IMDB (8.4), Wikipedia, Amazon.

Similar movies: romance.

Summary: Guide reminds me of Valmiki and Angulimala, both of whom were robbers and killers before they turned spiritual. The main character in Guide is Raju, a former tourist guide who is in jail for signature forgery. Upon his release from jail, he wanders off on foot. One day, when he wakes up, he finds a saffron robe on himself. Somebody had left the robe on him to shield him from cold. Seeing Raju's robe, villagers start believing that he's a renunciate, a 'sadhu' (saint). Bemused, Raju starts acting like one!

Most of the movie is a flashback which shows Raju's previous life as a skillful tourist guide who is blessed with the gift of gab. He falls in love with the neglected wife of a wealthy man and helps her realize her lifelong dream of becoming an accomplished dancer. As the two of them become rich and famous, they also drift apart. Raju starts drinking and gambling. Out of jealousy, he commits signature forgery, a crime that lands him in jail.

The last half hour of the movie is inspiring. A severe drought is ravaging the countryside. By a quirk of fate, Raju finds himself pressurized into a 12-day fast without food and water (!) The villagers believe that Raju's fast will appease the gods. As his fast progresses, Raju undergoes great internal conflict and even hallucinates. Two dialogues caught my attention:

  1. Villagers from afar come to see Raju and pay their respects. Raju realizes that his fast is transforming people by reminding them of a power greater than themselves. He introspects, "Why am I struggling? Why not become a mere observer, an instrument in the hands of the higher power, to just be and to see how things unfold instead of trying to control them?" These thoughts strengthen Raju's resolve to continue fasting.
  2. In another scene, there are two versions of Raju engaged in a conversation: a worldly Raju and a saintly Raju. The worldly Raju is suffocating and begs the saintly Raju for relief by breaking the fast. The saintly Raju recognizes the worldly Raju as his ego or Ahaṃkāra. As Raju relinquishes his ego and breathes his last, he experiences great peace and joy (no tension, only calmness in his dying moments). At the same time, there is a downpour.

On the whole, the movie is well done. It is fast paced, with many plots interwoven nicely. Most characters are shades of black and white. An important theme in the movie is the emancipation of Rosie (Waheeda Rehman), a neglected wife of a wealthy man. Rosie flourishes in the company of Raju. She realizes her dream of becoming an accomplished dancer. In 1965, the idea of an Indian woman getting divorced from her husband and successfully pursuing her dreams was ahead of its times.

Songs are very good! My favorite song is Tere Mere Sapne, Ab Ek Rang Hain - beautiful lyrics:

तेरे मेरे सपने अब एक रंग हैं
हो... जहाँ भी ले जाएं राहें, हम संग हैं

तेरे मेरे दिल का, तय था इक दिन मिलना
जैसे बहार आने पर, तय है फूल का खिलना
ओ मेरे जीवन साथी...

तेरे दुख अब मेरे, मेरे सुख अब तेरे
तेरे ये दो नैना, चांद और सूरज मेरे
ओ मेरे जीवन साथी...

लाख मना ले दुनिया, साथ न ये छूटेगा
आ के मेरे हाथों में, हाथ न ये छूटेगा
ओ मेरे जीवन साथी...


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