Vasanth Kumar Shivashankar Padukone (9 July 1925–10 October 1964), better known as Guru Dutt, was a film director, producer and actor. He made 1950s and 1960s classics such as Pyaasa, Kaagaz Ke Phool , Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam and Chaudhvin Ka Chand. In particular, Pyaasa and Kaagaz Ke Phool are now included among the greatest films of all time, both by Time magazine’s “All-TIME” 100 best movies and by the Sight & Sound critics’ and directors’ poll, where Dutt himself is included among the greatest film directors of all time.
He is most famous for making lyrical and artistic films within the context of popular Hindi cinema of the 1950s, and expanding its commercial conventions, starting with his 1957 film, Pyaasa. Several of his later works have a cult following. His movies go full house when re-released; especially in Germany, France and Japan.
Contrary to a general belief about the viability of his film projects, Dutt more or less produced commercially successful films. Over the years the commercial nature of his projects saw a trade-off with his creative aspirations. Movies like C.I.D., Baazi, Pyaasa, Kaagaz Ke Phool, Chaudhvin Ka Chand and Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam were the first of their kind in Hindi cinema. The only movie produced by Dutt that was considered a box-office disaster was Kaagaz Ke Phool, which is now a cult classic. He lost over Rs.1.7 million producing that film, a large amount by the standards of that time, which was more than recovered by his next project, Chaudhvin Ka Chand. He never lost faith in his team or in the distributors of his films. Once a project was over, he would begin anew — with little concern about the commercial success of the previous project. He was part of an exclusive school of Indian film directors, including the likes of Raj Kapoor, Mehboob Khan and Bimal Roy, who were able to achieve a healthy blend of artistic and commercial success between the mid-1950s and mid-1960s.
Pyaasa was rated as one of the best 100 films of all time by Time magazine. In the 2002 Sight & Sound critics’ and directors’ poll, two of his films, Pyaasa and Kaagaz Ke Phool, were among the top 160 greatest films of all time.