Guru Dutt is probably the only Indian film-maker who, within the parameters of the box office, made a personal statement with his cinema. His films stand testimony not only to his own genius but also to the creativity of his team, comprising stalwarts like cameraman V.K. Murthy, music director S.D. Burman, and writer Abrar Alvi, among others. In Ten Years with Guru Dutt: Abrar Alvi’s Journey, Sathya Saran looks at the tumultuous yet incredibly fecund relationship between the mercurial director and his equally talented albeit unsung writer, a partnership that evolved over a decade till Guru Dutt’s tragic death in 1964. Starting his career as a driver and chaperone to Guru Dutt’s producer on the sets of Baaz, Abrar soon caught the attention of the director with his sharp ear for and understanding of film dialogue. With Aar Paar in 1954, Abrar rewrote the rules of dialogue writing in Hindi cinema, till then marked by theatricality and artificiality. He followed it up with Mr and Mrs ’55, Pyaasa and Kaagaz Ke Phool—all veritable treatises on the art of scriptwriting—before donning the director’s mantle with great success in Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam. Full of anecdotes—about how Abrar honed his skills by writing over 300 love letters; how an accident involving a buffalo led to the discovery of Waheeda Rehman; Guru Dutt’s visit to a kotha to get the ambience right for Pyaasa—Ten Years with Guru Dutt is a warm and insightful look at two remarkable artistes who inspired each other to create movie magic. It is, at the same time, an intimate account of the ecstasy and the agony that marked the making of some of the enduring classics of Indian cinema.