The Melancholic Majesty of Guru Dutt


The Melancholic Majesty of Guru Dutt

Illustration: Cleon Dsouza


e were in the car, the dusty April heat rising and ebbing in waves on our way to Varanasi.  The ride was set to Kishore Kumar’s lilting and jovial yodels – making the barren summer scorched landscape fecund with feeling.  My father and I had given up on our conversation; it lay suspended between us like a curtain to be parted and we were focused on staying awake and making it to my grandmother’s house by tea-time. Suddenly, the pit of my stomach dropped, the music slowed down, and I heard my father sighing so lightly I can still not be sure, all these years later, if I imagined it.

Jaane woh kaise…somebody asked rhetorically, log the jin ke…he braved on; I stared at the stereo with my breath paused, anticipating, waiting. Jaane woh kaise log the jin ke, pyaar ko pyaar mila? I wonder what kind of people those were, whose love was reciprocated with love. The idea that not all love is requited, that it is not even granted, and if I was to believe the story of the man singing to me, it is not even commonplace, hit me with a gentle thud.