Revisiting the classic 'Guide' through its timeless music

Farhana Farook
·7-min read

We revisit Vijay Anand’s musical odyssey Guide...

Waheeda Rehman and Dev Anand in Guide
Waheeda Rehman and Dev Anand in Guide

Guide (1965) wouldn’t have been the classic it is without SD Burman’s music and Shailendra’s lyrics. The songs are the emotional markers of the script. A poetic breakdown of the altering dynamics between the lead pair, they’re said to reflect the navrasas, the nine emotions intrinsic to art…


Dev Anand, Kishore Sahu and Waheeda Rehman in Guide
Dev Anand, Kishore Sahu and Waheeda Rehman in Guide

Director Vijay Anand lent his genius and sensibilities to the screen adaptation of R K Narayan’s 1960 Sahitya Akademi winner novel Guide. In return we got a magnum opus of dreams and disillusionment, crime and redemption.

Rosie (Waheeda Rehman) is the daughter of a courtesan. She gets married to archaeologist Marco (Kishore Sahu) in a bid to change the dynastic trajectory. But much like the ruins her husband explores, Rosie’s life with a physically and emotionally impotent man, echoes emptiness. A chance encounter with guide Raju (Dev Anand) in Udaipur, initiates both dreams and flight in her. She walks out of a defunct marriage.

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Raju becomes her friend, philosopher and ‘guide’ in her trek to success. Rosie becomes a dancing diva but in the process loses Raju in the labyrinth of indulgence. A forged signature and a breach of trust lands Raju in jail.

Later, in a bid to break away from his past, Raju seeks refuge in an alien village. Initially posturing as a swami, he carries forth the godman act, to seek redemption.

The English version of Guide (1965), written by Pearl S Buck and directed by Tad Danielewski, was a no-show. Subsequently, the Hindi version, produced by Dev Anand, found few takers. But what mesmerized the distributors was the music.

Story goes that S.D.Burman was keeping indifferent health those days. In fact, the intricate Piya tose naina lage re was composed first while he was in hospital. Here’s revisiting the musical odyssey once again…

Wahan Kaun Hai Tera

Burman-da sang two songs, Wahan kaun hai tera at the beginning and Megh de pani de, the climactic song. The mystical Wahan kaun hai tera is the soul song of protagonist Raju, who’s lost everything and has nothing more to lose.

Burman-da’s flair for blending classical and folk rhythms is palpable in this Bhatiali (boatman) composition.

Koi bhi teri raah na dekhe…musafir jaayega kahan…Burman-da’s plaintive voice bemoans the transience of life as revealed in Shailendra’s lines. The heaven invoking appeal, Megh de paani de, was inspired by folk singer Abbasuddin Ahmed’s Allah megh de paani de.

Aaj Phir Jeene Ki Tamanna Hai

Raju’s empathy encourages Rosie, a dance enthusiast, to let down her hair. In a bid to celebrate herself, Rosie buys a pair of ghungroos. With that act of wilful indulgence, she symbolically breaks free from bondage and embraces the bond with herself… tod ke bandhan, baandhee payal..

The Lata Mangeshkar ditty rejoices that moment of epiphany. Throughout the song, Raju plays the ‘guide’, his watchful eyes protecting her as Rosie prances along the ruins of the Chittoor Fort.

The song is also a template of Vijay Anand’s fine picturisation skills, particularly the low angle tracking shot of Waheeda dancing along the ledge and the shot of moving from mirror to mirror. “Recently, when I visited Bhuj, a guide mentioned that the song Aaj phir jeene ki tamanna hai may have been the first truly feminist song in Hindi cinema,” said Waheeda in an interview.

It truly is.

Tere Mere Sapne Ab Ek Rang Hai

This song is every woman’s dream. A man pledging to stand by her, while she’s lost her moorings. Vijay Anand would say, “My camera listens to the song and moves with it.”

Cinematographer Fali Mistry is said to have shot both at dawn and dusk to get the required shade of sunlight that reflected both Rosie’s sinking heart and Raju’s sanguine support.

The song was canned in three shots and two cuts. The cuts occur when Rosie draws away from Raju, confused and conflicted. The camera finally closes in where Raju offers his hand to Rosie, bridging the gap between them, completing this ballad of love.

Piya Tose Naina Laage Re

The 8-minute song traces Rosie’s ascent to stardom. Starry eyed with success and love, the dance captures her in celebratory avatars, designed by the late Bhanu Athaiya.

There’s even an intimate interlude with Dev Anand where she serves him food. Burman-da composed the song in ‘roopak tal’ beats.

Waheeda Rehman in Guide
Waheeda Rehman in Guide

It took around 21 days to film this blend of Kathak, Bharatnatyam and folk dances, choreographed by Master Sohan Lal and his younger brother Hira Lal B.

The sensual lines, ‘Raat ko jab chaand chamake jal uthe tan mera’, composed with raag khamaj is balanced with ‘bhor ki bela’, highlighted by the flute played by Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia. Burman-da used a medley of instruments - sarangi, harmonium, tabla, ghungroo and drums to orchestrate this dance of life.

Din Dhal Jaye

“Shohrat tumhe mili, sarr mera ghoom gaya,” says Raju to Rosie in a scene, summing up the descent of their relationship. Raju’s waywardness begins to peel off the romance between them.

The creeping distance between Dev Anand and Waheeda Rehman
The creeping distance between Dev Anand and Waheeda Rehman

Rosie starts viewing him disparagingly and literally shuts the doors on him. Raju senses the censure and is left feeling lonely and humiliated. Steeped in malt and melancholy, the song by Mohammed Rafi, laments the plummeting of their relationship.

Mose Chhal Kiye Jaaye

Rosie is indignant at Raju for forging her signature. More than the deed, it’s the emotional treason that leaves her disheartened. On Raju’s part, it’s his possessiveness that makes him resort to it.

But Rosie refuses to humour him.

The scene catharsizes into a dance drama with Saiyaan beimaan (Lata) being Rosie’s allegation and Kya se kya ho gaya (Rafi) being Raju’s argument.

Sitar, tabla, violins, flute, taar sehnai and ghungroos… Saiyaan beimaan is a mélange of emotions gone awry. The metre of the song, based on Addha taal in the mukhda, breaks at the point Haaye re haaye, haaye… and underlines the tirade.

Kya se kya ho gaya is a retort to her rant. He’s disappointed that Rosie could have misunderstood him. The lines, “Tere mere beech ab sadiyon ke faasle hai…” announces the doom of their dream. Both the songs have a similar tune but differ by half-a-note ‘to create a demarcation between the two emotional states’ as once mentioned by Hariprasad Chaurasia. Incidentally, santoor maestro, Pandit Shivkumar Sharma played the tabla in this song.


Gaata rahe mera dil...
Gaata rahe mera dil...

Apparently, when the songs of Guide were recorded, Kishore Kumar was preoccupied with wife Madhubala’s health. Dev Anand and S.D. Burman, both extremely fond of Kishore Kumar, insisted he render a song for Guide. That’s how the romantic Gata rahe mera dil was recorded and later added to the film.

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