Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Guide is Good, Guide is Great (1965)

As soon as Guide ended, I wanted to hit "play" and watch the whole thing all over again. It was just that good (And had it not been 2 a.m., I just might have done so!).

I couldn't resist this photo of Waheeda any longer; I'd seen it in practically every book I've read on Bollywood. Sigh, time to watch the movie about the woman who leaves her husband for Dev Anand and becomes a dancer, I told myself. If you're gonna twist my arm, that is. ;)

While I thought the film had a rather slow beginning, everything was all good once Waheeda started dancing and Dev started...well, falling in love with Waheeda's dancing.

But so did I! I loved that this film gave Waheeda sooo many opportunities to show off her talent! And man, did she ever. She danced in the streets. She danced on stage. She danced when she was pissed off at her lover. And, when she finally got her hands on a pair of jingly new anklets, she pranced all the way home in them, unable to contain her excitement. Yep, all Rosie wanted to do was dance, baby, dance!

After she ditched her cad of a husband, Rosie became famous. Hooray! More excuses for colorful dance sequences and costumes. Which Vijay Anand was more than happy to provide.

Dev Anand, the tour "guide" who encourages Rosie to leave her husband and pursue a dancing career, was just as passionate about Rosie as she was about dancing. I loved that he never looked at her like she was "tainted", despite what family and friends had to say. Sure, Raju had issues of his own, which became more apparent with Rosie's success. But he never made her feel like she was less of a woman because she was divorced. To the contrary, he treated her as a queen deserving nothing but love, his love, which he was more than willing to give. Ironically, it was this pedestal he placed her on that caused him to feel inadequate, which led to his insecurity, which contributed to the eventual meltdown of the relationship.

The interesting thing about the breakdown of Raju and Rosie, as a couple as well as individuals (Which I didn't post a spoiler about because its pretty obvious; As Rosie becomes more and more popular, you just know its all too good to be true), is that I never fully figured out whaaaat exactly went wrong. Or whose "fault" it was. I just couldn't pick a side! I'll admit, I usually pick the woman's side (Team Aniston!!), but its usually the man's fault anyways, especially in Bollywood! Here, I wasn't so sure. The characters were so passionately portrayed that I felt the pain in both directions. On the one hand, you have Raju's growing possessiveness and alcoholism that would drive any woman away (Run Rosie, he's not man enough for you!!). But on the other, you realize all he wants is Rosie's attention (That cold-hearted, unfeeling witch!).

But Guide was more than just another Barbara Streisand-type tearjerker (which I am always up for, by the way). After things with Raju and Rosie hit a heartbreaking climax, Raju is sent to prison, and the flashback ends. Back in the present, Raju struggles on his own spiritual journey that brings him to an unexpected crossroads, equipped with "dream" sequences that reminded me of one of Raj Kapoor's films (I especially liked the whole Ego/Id conversation that appropriately displayed question marks in the background). Its this bend in the film that makes it unique, and probably something I will understand more and more with each viewing experience. That's what made me want to watch it again--I feel like I'll notice something new every time. And maybe even understand the whole thing a little better, because I've gotta say, I didn't fully "get" the ending (****SPOILER**** I get the whole concept of enlightenment, but...why Raju? Ahh, could it be to prove that everyone and anyone could be as close to God as they want to be?*****END SPOILER*****).

Whew! Such a long post already--and I didn't even get to rave about the the music (And was it just me or did I catch a glimpse of Shashi Kapoor in one of the songs?)!


Anarchivist September 3, 2009 at 4:32 AM  

I haven't seen this in a long time, but I just picked up the soundtrack (due to an obsession with the "Gate Rahe Mere Dil" song). It is awesome music, and Waheeda does some really awesome dancing, and Dev gets to show some depth. Actually, this is one of those posts that, if it were in a book, I'd just be writing "Yes!" all over in the margins. :)

Nicki September 3, 2009 at 6:12 AM  

This is one film that everyone keeps telling me to watch. I will have to put it on the list of my next to-buy list. Caps are gorgeous!

memsaab September 3, 2009 at 8:19 AM  

Yay for Guide!!! I LOVE the songs, and I love Waheeda. She is amazing in this. Now I want to go and watch it again! :)

bollyviewer September 3, 2009 at 8:42 AM  

This one has been on my to-watch pile for a long time (saw it as a kid). Waheeda Rehman + Dev Anand + gorgeous visuals and songs = must see again and again! The book on which this one was based (R. K. Narayan's The Guide) wasnt quite as colorful, but also very good - just wish I could do them both together!

Darshit September 3, 2009 at 11:10 AM  

I have always placed Guide alongwith Lagaan, in my top *most* favorite place. I just love everything in it. Just only one glitch-which u've mentioned.

i also cant digest that thing. I think that must be Dev's idea to add the supernatural thing. Not Vijay's. Maybe for Oscars :-P without that thing, the end wud be equally gr8. The scene clearly looks like last moment addition**spoiler end***

Music was the best a movie can have. Such a gem each song is. 'piya toh se' is my fav since age of 5. And how can one overlook the ever beautiful diva- Waheeda ji !!

Ah, and I too weep a lot during this movie. :)

Nida September 3, 2009 at 12:27 PM  

Anarchavist--Ha, ha--great minds think alike :). And yes, the music was sooo good. I didn't write much about it because, well, I couldn't think of anything productive to say other than I LOVE IT!

Nicki--I'm surprised you haven't seen it yet! But yeah, I really think you'll like it. It's v.stylish and colorful. Too bad Vijay Anand didn't direct Fashion, huh?;)

Memsaab--Its just a big hunk o-greatness, isn't it? This would be fun to watch during our next Bollymeetup!

Bollyviewer--I KNOW!And is that book written or translated in English?.... Ahh, I see it is! I'll have to read that one. Perhaps it would help me understand the ending a bit better.

Darshit--Its just that type of film, isn't it? And have you read the book? Wonder how similar the endings are? And yes, "Piya Toh Se" is fabulous!

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bollywooddeewana September 4, 2009 at 6:52 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
bollywooddeewana September 4, 2009 at 6:54 AM  

Hmm you summed up exactly how i felt about Guide in the last paragraph, i couldn't grasp hold of the ending bit, i felt I would have to rewatch before doing a review for my blog, but the closest analysis i could draw up was a Jesus type death for the sake of the people (death of one person =salvation for many) of course i'm a bit iffy about that analysis but with more viewing as you've pointed out i might see something else

Shweta Mehrotra Gahlawat September 4, 2009 at 7:45 PM  

I'm so glad u saw this- its really some of the most brilliant work by dev ever- there are so many ways to analyze this movie- really brilliant.

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ajnabi September 11, 2009 at 7:29 AM  

This movie is such amazing art; I just love it (wonder why I never reviewed it?). It was SO FUN seeing Waheeda-ji reprise her act in Lamhe.

The Buddha Smiled September 15, 2009 at 10:05 AM  

Hey ajnabi,

You know, this movie was an all-time favourite of my parents, so I grew up watching it every few months on lazy Sundays when my folks got the urge to "Guide it up" (this is also in the good old days of VHS..)

The weird thing is when I was growing up, I really didn't quite get the whole spiritual angle at the end, but interestingly enough, when I watched it again on TV back in India while visiting last time, it suddenly clicked. I can't even begin to explain it, but keep marvelling at how something that was such a massive commercial success could also be so incredibly powerful and subtle!

Also - just checking because there were a few years when there were edited versions of the movie running around - did your version have the ABSOLUTELY amazing snake dance? My mother, who studied Bharatnatyam, explained how as a choreographed sequence it is exceptional because it matched Waheeda's classical training with a folk dancer (Nag Nritya - snake dance - is a tradition in both, stemming from devotions to Shiva..)
If not, youtube it and just be wowed...

The Buddha Smiled September 15, 2009 at 10:07 AM  

PS - Nida!

Came across the blog via Beth and ajnabi - loving it! :)

Deepa Joshi September 29, 2009 at 12:12 AM  

Hi Nida,
Lovely blog on Guide and Waheeda's beauty..I absolutely loved her first picture you have put up and am also an ardent Aniston fan..She has gotten over her break up, I havent :-)
I am a community manager at We have some great Indian classics. If you get a chance, do visit the site and let me know if you would like to watch a movie there. I can gift that to you.
Deepa (

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yves October 21, 2009 at 1:42 PM  

Hi Nida,

Well, I'm sorry to sound like a party pooper, but I for one wasn't that impressed by "The guide" ( see here: because I'd read Narayan's book before, and the film just doesn't get anywhere close to the book's mysterious ambiguity. There's a lengthy debate somewhere (perhaps on Bollywhat or one of the blogs, I don't remember), about the relative merits of book and film, but there you are, Dev Anand is definitely NOT RK Narayan. And this is by someone who's a Waheeda fan!!

Wonderful caps though!

carol November 4, 2009 at 9:15 PM  

I love, love love Guide! Thanks for your post Nida. It's been many months since I watched the movie but the tune of the snake dance is still fresh in my mind. Waheeda is truly an awesome dancer especially in that song. Dev Anand was great too. Bollywood4eva!

Filmbuff,  November 26, 2009 at 7:55 PM  

R.K Narayan wrote all his books in English - this is a response to your question to one of the bloggers.

A good review of a truly good movie - guide will always remain in the minds of cinema loving public for its songs, choreography, picturisation and Waheeda's acting and beauty.

BTW, RK Narayan is supposed to have been very unhappy with the way Dev Anand adopted the story to celluloid - perhaps Yves has a point in his comments above.

San December 30, 2009 at 8:14 AM  

A fantastic post. Summed up many of my own feelings about this wonderful movie.

Tiswas Palmer January 24, 2010 at 10:50 AM

I too love Bollywood and other studios as well, and it is so nice to talk to a fellow Bollywood fam

Nasir March 3, 2010 at 1:00 AM  

GUIDE is simply Dev Anand's best movie. Great direction makes it as if one is reading a novel rather than watching a movie. Yes, it's one of those movies that we can watch over and over again without in the least getting tired or bored. The songs are great and it's a pity that S.D. Burman did not get any award here. Waheeda Rehman is charming, to say the least, what with all those dances, especially the Snake Dance. She had actually pleaded with Dev not to delete any of it.

I wonder if the English version is available in India.

Hans Meier March 6, 2010 at 3:53 PM  

Nice post about nice film. I don't care how the book is treated in the film, i see the movie independantly.

Still for me, while i can watch three hrs of this stuff, i find image and sound quality somewhat tiring (all the way to the nineties). Are *western* movies from the 60s and 70s that rambling?

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Carol May 30, 2010 at 8:46 AM  

I loooved it specially for Waheeda(oh God, she's just amazing, isn't her?), but I also didn't get the end.So sad :/

shabnam yasmin June 3, 2010 at 11:27 PM  

aaj phir jeeneki tamanna hay.... aaj phirr marneka irada hai :)

Benita Fernando June 5, 2010 at 10:53 AM  

i liked your thoughts on Guide very much, especially the bit on the id-ego conflict.

the ending in my opinion, even as R K narayan intended, is meant to be ambiguous. i dont think he is a Christ like figure at all, or that he achieved enlightenment.

in my opinion, the author and director are trying to convey the possibility of an ordinary human being to become a saint, merely through self analysis and selflessness. Raju does not commit a great crime that he needs redemption. Raju does not do anything great to be called a saint either. it is the simplicity of human action based on goodness.

but, like i said, it is an ambiguous ending.

Narayan called his novel Guide also to consider the position of Mahatma Gandhi. something to think about.

yves June 5, 2010 at 1:37 PM  

Hello Benita,
I got to know of your comnent through registration to this feed. You write: "in my opinion, the author and director are trying to convey the possibility of an ordinary human being to become a saint, merely through self analysis and selflessness. Raju does not commit a great crime that he needs redemption. Raju does not do anything great to be called a saint either. it is the simplicity of human action based on goodness."

Well, I'm sorry to say I disagree almost on everything in this sentence.

Narayan does not want Raju to be seen as a saint, that's for sure. And most of all, this story isn't "the simplicity of human action based on goodness". Raju isn't evil, in the sense of inhuman, but he's an egoist, a self-centered (and later punished) opportunist. He hasn't done "a great crime", you're right, but certainly he's done a collection of petty ones, among his general pleasure-seeking individualistic attitude.

His becoming a swami in the end is a satirical comment on the change that some people carry out when no other ressource is left to them.

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Sam N' Eric October 23, 2010 at 1:37 AM  

You should see her dance in Kahi Pe Nigahen from the movie CID and her expressions from Pyaasa (1957) for the song "Jaane Kya"

Unfortunately I do not come across any lady like Waheeda in real life. Beauty and grace is a rarity these days. Sigh still thinking of Waheedaji!

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this is a classic movie. simply wonderful. piya tose naina lage re :)

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