Kaagaz Ke Phool (1959)

 ●  Hindi ● Running Time: TBA

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It tells, in flashback, the story of Suresh Sinha (Dutt), a famous film director. His marriage to Bina (Veena), the daughter of a wealthy parvenue (Mahesh Kaul), is wrecked because film directing is a job lacking in social status. Sinha is denied access to his beloved daughter Pammi (Baby Naaz) who is sent to a private boarding school. On a rainy night Sinha meets Shanti (Rehman) who turns out to be ideally suited to act the part of Paro in Sinha’s film Devdas. Shanti becomes a star and gossip columns link her with Sinha. The distraught Pammi pleads with Shanti to quit films, which she does, and her withdrawal leads to a rapid decline in Sinha’s fortunes. Soon he is a forgotten and destitute man. Eventually, after some painful adventures (reminiscent of Emil Jannings’s fate in Sternberg’s The Last Command, 1928) Sinha is found dead in the director’s chair in an empty studio.
See Storyline (May Contain Spoilers)

Cast: Guru Dutt, Waheeda Rehman

Crew: Guru Dutt (Director), VK Murthy (Director of Photography), Sachin Dev Burman (Music Director)

Genres: Drama, Musical, Romance

Release Dates: 02 Jan 1959 (India)

Hindi Name: कागज़ के फूल

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Did you know? The baroque, quasi-autobiographical fantasy has over time become his best-known film next to 'Pyaasa' (1957) and could be regarded as India’s equivalent of 'Citizen Kane' (1941). Read More
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as Suresh Sinha
as Shanti
as Pramila Sinha
as Veterinarian
Supporting Actor




Production Company




Story Writer
Dialogue Writer

Camera and Electrical

Director of Photography


Music Director


Art Director

Costume and Wardrobe

Costume Designer


Film Type:
Feature Film
Colour Info:
Black & White
Sound Mix:
Frame Rate:
24 fps
Aspect Ratio:
2.35 : 1
Music Director: Sachin Dev Burman
Playback Singer: Mohammad Rafi
Music Director: Sachin Dev Burman
Playback Singer: Mohammad Rafi
Music Director: Sachin Dev Burman
Playback Singer: Geeta Dutt
This movie is a path breaking one in Indian cinema, because it is the first ever Black and White Cinemascope film.

Apart from the semi-autobiographical nature of the movie, another explanation for the inspiration is Guru Dutt's association with Gyan Mukherjee,is considered to be an homage to Mukherjee. the famous 1940s director whose 'Kismet' (1943) had made him into a household name. The life and subsequent failures of Mukherjee, whom Guru Dutt had joined in 1950, influenced him deeply. Many think that 'Kaghaz ke Phool' was based on Gyan Mukherjee's life and failures, as Guru Dutt's previous film 'Pyaasa' had been dedicated to him.

Many claim that the film is semi-autobiographical and that Guru Dutt portrayed his angst in the movie. At the time of production of the film, Guru Dutt's marriage to Geeta Dutt was under strain due to his liking for Waheeda Rehman. This was openly known causing Guru Dutt's personal life to resemble that of the protagonist in the movie. However, the forecast of his own (Guru Dutt's) death, to parallel the sad and imminent death of the protagonist in the film, is debatable.

In the 2002 Sight & Sound critics' and directors' poll, 'Kaagaz Ke Phool' was ranked at #160 among the greatest films of all time.

The film was a box office disaster in its time but was later resurrected as a world cinema cult classic in the 1980s. The film's music was composed by S. D. Burman and the lyrics were written by Kaifi Azmi, giving hits like "Waqt ne Kiya Kya Haseen Situm", sung by Geeta Dutt.

The original Cinema Scope negative has been damaged and few scope prints survive (two are at European TV stations).

The tragic refrain Waqt hai meherbaan of the song Dekhi zamaane ki yaari, written by Azmi, repeated throughout the film, endows the narrative with an epic dimension enhanced by Burman’s music.

With a more complex narrative structure than Pyaasa, this film can be seen as a meditation on the control of space, itself an eminently cinematic concern and brilliantly rendered by Murthy’s astonishing CinemaScope camerawork. The film dramatises the conflict between open and constricted spaces, between spaces controlled by the director and spaces constraining him, spaces he can enter and those from which he is excluded. Eventually these tensions are resolved in the enclosed and womb-like but huge and free-seeming space of a deserted film studio.

The baroque, quasi-autobiographical fantasy has over time become his best-known film next to 'Pyaasa' (1957) and could be regarded as India’s equivalent of 'Citizen Kane' (1941).

The commercial failure of this film on its initial release prompted Guru Dutt, by some accounts, to stop taking directorial credit for his films.