When Guru Dutt Had Fun

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He wears an angrezi coat, a scarf around his neck, a gol topi on his head, and ripostes quite perfectly: "Thank you very much kindly." He is just out of jail after being booked for rash driving, but he walks with his head high because he thinks, "Hum mard ke bachche hain…sar utha ke chalte hain." He is also quick-witted. When the girl he will eventually fall for asks him haughtily how dare he touch her, he says, "Mistake ho gayi… ghar jaa ke haath dho loonga." The ex-convict taxi driver Kalu has a Bambaiya swagger and an infectious style. The big difference? He's played by Guru Dutt.

Shammi Kapoor was supposed to star in Aar Paar but the Junglee star told financier KK Kapoor that he had no dates to spare, so his good friend Dutt could be the film's leading man. The distributors wanted Dutt to be ­removed after the dismal showing of Baaz.

As the first film from the Guru Dutt banner, Aar Paar enjoys the distinction of being that rare film where he's having fun on screen. It was, of course, way before the master director claimed the tag of the Angsty Artiste in films like Pyaasa and Kaagaz ke Phool.

The fun and games begin when Kalu meets Nikki (Shyama looking megawatt in trousers and overalls with ribbons in her hair). They spar with each other, stare at each other, and somewhere between sparing and staring, they fall in love. There's a delightful scene in which Kalu is practising the English alphabet and says "G for 'garal'… 'garal' maane ladki." To which Nikki snaps and says, "Aye, yeh kya badtameezi hai?" He says, "Badtameezi nahin, memsaab, English hai." She shoots back, "Kya 'garal garal' kehta hai… Bolo 'girl'." Then he asks what does L for Love mean? To which she says, "Love maane tera sarr." And so Kalu starts chanting, "L maane tera sarr." Abrar Alvi has written the dialogue.

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