Lukewarm Love Guru

Guru Dutt wrote lousy love letters and in that sense this book is a con. Fans could buy it, the rest should stay clear.

Nasreen Munni Kabir’s a passionate film lover who has written books on Guru Dutt and Javed Akhtar. Yours Guru Dutt is a collection of love letters he wrote to his wife Geeta Roy. Dutt met her in 1951 when he was 26. The correspondence covers bits of a 13-year-old relationship which ended with Dutt’s suicide.This book is a beautifully produced collection. The photographs evoke the period. Every letter in the book has faded to the right colour. Every footnote is a piece of scholarship. Despite all this, the letters themselves are a disappointment. Kabir’s labour of love as an editor cannot save the laboured love letters. Dutt’s mystique lies in his films or his failed romance. They are definitely not in his dull and absolutely trite love letters.

Several things mar the book. The letters to Geeta Dutt do not have her replies. The reader keeps waiting to sense her emotions. The book reveals little about Geeta except that he missed her. Secondly for those who expected a whiff about Waheeda, there is nothing. There is little about the man or his loves and it is a pity.

Guru Dutt Padukone was a fascinating character. Yet these letters offer few insights. There is almost a moment of poignancy when he discovers how famous Raj Kapoor is in Iran. For the rest nothing. In fact Kabir’s footnotes make better reading than the letters. Pity, for the man loved intensely, lived intensely, almost to a point of emptiness. Guru Dutt fades out in this drama.

Romance needs more than props and footnotes or immortal lovers. It needs a good text. Guru Dutt wrote lousy love letters and in that sense this book is a con. You almost feel like helping him rewrite it but that would be sacrilege. Fans could buy it, the rest should stay clear.

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