Publication Date



Open access

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Motion Pictures (Communication)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

William Rothman

Second Committee Member

Sumita Chatterjee

Third Committee Member

Christina Lane


Guru Dutt was one of the most important filmmakers in India, who worked for a little over a decade starting in 1951. He died prematurely in 1964. In those few years, he made some of Indian cinema's most memorable films. Song and dance sequences are an integral part of the narrative structure of popular Indian cinema. Guru Dutt, working within that paradigm, devised innovative methods of using song sequences. In his films, the song sequences were not a distraction, but they served the purpose of carrying the narrative forward, expressing the inexpressible, and replacing scenes. He achieved this by his creative use of locations, lyrics, music, camera angles, and placement of the song within the narrative. This study critically analyzes song sequences from five of his films - Aar Paar (Through and Through, 1954), Mr. and Mrs. 55 (1955), Pyaasa (The Thirsty One, 1957), Kaagaz ke Phool (Paper Flowers, 1959) and Saahib Biwi aur Ghulam (Master Mistress and Slave, 1962). Guru Dutt's style of song direction focused on realistic depiction and the quality of storytelling. He used each feature of the song to his advantage never losing control of the larger narrative. This study also brings to the fore Guru Dutt's conflicted views as an artist on the issues of tradition and modernity, and the position of women in the emerging nation.


Guru Dutt; Pyaasa; Aar Paar; Mr. And Mrs. 55; Kaagaz Ke Phool; Saahib Biwi Aur Ghulam; Indian Cinema; South Asian Cinema; Post-independence; Tradition; Modernity; Bollywood; Song And Dance Sequences