In one of his interviews, octogenarian and yet evergreen Dev Anand went ballistic against any attempts to remake Guide and I could see his point. How else would you feel if your life’s best work is being tampered with? Even his seemingly boastful statement that Guide remains Dev Anand and Vijay Anand’s Guide had a ring of truth. This 1965 film was based on R.K. Narayan’s award-winning novel but it charted its own course. If the novel was laced with Narayan’s characteristic subtle cynicism and humor, then the film unfolded a stirring story of sentimentality and spirituality.
Guide is a tale of a tourist guide Raju (Dev Anand) who is working for an old, eccentric archeologist- Marco and his young wife Rosy (Waheeda Rehman). Soon Raju comes to understand Rosy’s sorry plight. Locked in a loveless marriage, she has become a sad loner. Raju rekindles her interest in good things in life and helps her to leave her abusive, impotent husband. Raju and Rosy’s blooming romance sets tongues wagging but still he stands by her side. Thanks to his love and encouragement, Rosy pursues and excels in a dancing career. Her dancing success brings fame and money and also, acrimony. In a moment of weakness, Raju commits forgery and gets arrested for misappropriation of Rosy’s funds. A promising love-story thus comes to a premature end.
Coming out of jail, Raju wanders aimlessly to a remote village. His haggard appearance, threadbare clothes and saffron scarf-all prompt the villagers to take him for a holy man. Initially he just plays along, hoping to find himself a new identity but then he seriously starts believing that he has indeed been chosen for the work of God. Once he was guiding people in their earthly journeys, now he wants to guide them in their spiritual journey. As the drought-hit villagers look up to this unlikely saviour to bring rain, will Raju be able to rise above his human fallibility?
The theme of the film (especially the part where the unhappy wife leaves her impotent husband to live with her lover) was considered bold and ahead of its times, so much so that Director Vijay Anand had refused the film twice before accepting. But he then extracted life’s best roles out of the lead pair- Dev and Waheeda, both of whom so movingly portrayed the complex transitions in their screen characters.
The film bagged practically every major Filmfare award that year. Surprisingly the only one missing out was composer Sachindev Burman, who created an unforgettable soundtrack full of gems like Kaanton Se Khinchke, Din Dhal Jaye, Gaata Rahe Mera Dil and Wahan Kaun Hai Tera!
Guide was also made as an English version where Pearl S. Buck worked on script and Ted Danielewski directed. But that was a colossal flop. Such are vagaries of life!