A scene from ‘Pyasa’

Guru Dutt’s Pyasa was a trail-blazing film in several ways. Not only does it chronicle the story of a poet at cudgels with the entire world and how everyone prefers to laud an artist when he is no longer around but also highlights the divide between art and its commercialisation. The latter wins hands-down as ever. Sahir’s bitter lyrics are exhibited to their best as I have noted earlier, with an example or two.

However, for those who have seen the movie, this short scene brings out beautifully the dichotomy between an audience which believes a poet’s prime purpose is to entertain, while the poet only seeks to express his own feelings, no matter what effect they might have on the gathering. No middle ground exists in this tussle between literary expression and entertainment and one can choose what they want….

The scene in its entriety…. Note how the poet begins with a expression of protest and ends with quiet resignation.

Poet: Tang aa chuke hain qashmaqash-e-zindagi se ham
Thukra na dein jahaan ko kahin Bedili se ham

Male voice: Aji janaab
Khushi ke mauqe par kya bedili kaa raag chhedaa hua hai
Koi khushi ka geet sunaiye

Poet: Ham gam-zadaa hain laayen kahaan se khushi ke geet
Denge wo hi jo paayenge is zindagi se ham

Ubharenge ek baar abhi dil ke walwale
Maana ke dab gaye hain gam-e-zindagi se ham

Lo aaj hamne torh diya rishta-e-umeed
Lo ab kabhi gila na karenge kisi se ham

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