Sundeep Bhutoria

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Sunday, April 8, 2012

Guru Dutt magic redux

There was a book reading session at the Starmark in South City Mall on Friday evening. The book Rendezvous With God has been written by Abhilasha Agarwal. I, along with Roopa Ganguly, Sanatan Dinda, Abhishek Manu Singhvi and others, have contributed by sharing our personal experiences of moments when we felt the presence of God.
Booking reading nowadays has become common place and also a very popular social event with the presence of author, publishers, celebs, guests and sponsors. But on the evening of April 4, 2012, I attended a unique book launch-cum-reading show at the Jal Mahal Lawns in Jaipur. I have never witnessed such an innovative and spectacular book launch.
With Sathya Saran
The event was the launch of the book called Ten Years with Guru Dutt: Abrar Alvi's Journey written by former editor, writer and columnist, Sathya Saran.
The book, originally conceptualized as a theatre production, has chronicled the lives of Guru Dutt and his associate Abrar Alvi through three different mediums-theatre, film and narratives. All the chapters in the Book are named after songs from Guru Dutt movies.
The picture post card venue of Jal Mahal by the banks provided a stunning backdrop and ambience. But what made our day was the manner is which the entire event unfolded. 
I had gone there expecting a the usual fanfare, unveiling of the book, may be some readings and speeches. But, I was in for a big surprise.
There was a huge stage with two chairs, a screen, a bench and a bed. The novelty of the event was that songs from Guru Dutt's films were screened invoking the 60s era nostalgia and half way through the screen went blank and the scene seamlessly shifted to the ground below where performers continued with that same song sequence, this time live, while the songs played on in the background. It seemed that characters from the bygone golden era of Hindi films had stepped out of the screen to perform live for us. It was flawless and perfect.
Occasionally, the scene shifted to a dialogue between the author, Sarin, and Satvik, who played out the role of Abrar Alvi. Through their queries and narratives the audience were introduced to a number of interesting anecdotes about Guru Dutt and others, creating the imagery that readers would have in their minds while reading the book.
The show, through sheer imagery and powerful narrations, told the audience how Waheeda Rehman was discovered by Alvi and Guru Dutt in Hyderabad. There was also the famous anecdote about how Meena Kumari was persuaded to shoot for Na Jaao Saiyan song from the hit film Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam.
The audience were transported to the 60s era as melodious songs from Guru Dutt movies filled the air as different performers playedout some of the legendary film roles characterised by Guru Dutt, Waheeda Rehman and Meena Kumari. They perfectly synced their facial expressions and lips with the characters on screen. The Hindi diction of Satvik made the show all the more livelier.
Sathya Saran told me that she would be in Kolkata at the end of the month for a book reading session. I told her why not re-enact the whole magic in our City of Joy. I told her that I would be happy to organize such an event in Kolkata that would be greatly appreciated by the city's book lovers.
ess bee

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