Pyaasa is the story of a poet and his eternal thirst for love and fame. Vijay
(Guru Dutt) is an unsuccessful poet whose works are not accepted by convention-bound
editors and publishers since they want poems on love and romance, and not on social
problems or human sufferings.
Life at home is miserable, too. He has not had any regular employment or income since leaving college, and his two brothers taunt and humiliate him badly enough to make him leave the house.
They sell off his poems as waste paper to a grocer, and while searching frantically for them, he learns that a woman has taken them away. He happens to come across this woman when he hears her singing one of his songs - she is a streetwalker called Gulab (Waheeda Rehman), and takes him to be a possible client seeing him follow her. But when she discovers that he is the author of the poems that she loves so much and that she has memorized, she tries to help him. But he does not accept her aid.
Vijay's only other friend is Abdul Sattar (Johnny Walker), a tel-malishwala (a man giving oil-massages).
Vijay happens to attend a college function of ex-students, and he is asked to sing there. In the audience is his college-mate Meena, the girl whom he had once loved, sitting with her husband Ghosh, a prosperous publisher. Meena avoids him, but Ghosh takes a surprising interest in him and offers him a job in his concern.
Seeing Meena again after years makes Vijay recall those happy college days when they had met and fallen in love. He also remembers how Meena had chosen a life of security and wealth instead of love, and had ended their affair since he was poor and struggling.
Ghosh's real intention in giving Vijay a job is to probe into the matter of his association with Meena. At a party at his house, Vijay sings one of his moving poems but still goes without applause. The word goes home to Meena, who soon afterwards has an argument with Vijay. Ghosh overhears this, and Vijay is sacked.
Gulab, returning from one of her rounds, is saved by Vijay from being caught by the police. Vijay calls her his wife for this, and this deeply stirs her and fills her with a longing to leave her profession and set up a home for self.
When Vijay learns of his mother's death, his last link with his home is broken. In his depressed condition, he is taken by a friend to a dancing girl and made to drink heavily. In the houses of ill fame, Vijay witnesses the real tragedy of the fallen women, and composes a long, sad poem on their life.
Gulab once again shelters and nurses him, but Vijay says he wants to end his life. Gulab puts him to sleep but finds him missing the next morning. During the night, Vijay, after giving away his coat to a beggar, tries to kill himself on the tracks, but the beggar, while trying to save him, dies himself in his place. Because of the coat, his body is taken to be Vijay's, and the death is announced in the papers.
As a last homage to him, Gulab parts with her life's savings to get his poems published by Ghosh. The book becomes an instant bestseller, and Vijay at last attains true fame. In a hospital where he is recovering, he learns of this, and claims to be Vijay. But he is taken to be insane and sent to a mental hospital.
Ghosh comes to the asylum and gives evidence of his not being Vijay. His brothers too are in hand-in-glove with Ghosh for some money. It is left to Abdul Sattar to make Vijay escape from the asylum.
Vijay returns to his house where his brothers refuse to recognize him. He hears that Vijay's death anniversary is being celebrated at the city hall and goes to attend it. Provoked by the irony of the situation and the hypocrisy of the world, he bursts into a lyrical diatribe and is thrown out of the hall. There he is spotted by an editor who knows him. He now dreams of minting money on Vijay's poems. And now his brothers and Shyam also turn round and beginning to claim him.
Another meeting is called to honor Vijay, where to the surprise of all, Vijay himself declares that he is not the real one. There is a pandemonium. Meena implores him to tell the truth. But he has cut himself off from a world that is so cruel and selfish, and wants to go away somewhere afar. He visits Gulab and asks if she wishes to come with him. She does.
Direction: Guru Dutt
Cast: Guru Dutt, Mala Sinha, Waheeda Rehman, Johnny Walker, Rehman
This movie is part of a 10-day Guru Dutt film festival being held at the Hari Hari Kala Bhavan. Please contact Prakash Reddy, Hyderabad Film Club, at 373-0841 or 373-0265 for further details.