Pyaasa was a film of retribution and the reiteration of one’s self-definition. The reviewer notes this, but I would not say that they gave enough attention to this feature of the film. Vijay is a creature of melancholia, one who lives within the effortless flow of his life, never taking control or leading himself further along the tracks of his desires with much aplomb. Disregarding the final portion of the film, Vijay makes little effort to accomplish the goals that he seems to want to accomplish. All of his actions throughout the film are performed with a sort of half-hearted-ness, it is not until the finality that any sort of true assertion takes place.
In the preceding scenes, he whines about his, or rather of his poetry’s, lack of recognition, but as the reviewer did state it is not until he there are situations in which it he is forced into recital that this poetry commands its presence. It is not until his poetry leaves the page that it takes this command, as those powerful words seem to have little force until they preclude out of the constricting presence of the page and into the hearts and minds of the rest of the world. For the rest of the film Vijay seems to have little interest in going about his goals, choosing instead to dream about them have never done so. There is the much-referred to Western phrase “It is better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all,” and the film does a great job of demonstrating the veracity of this statement, in that Vijay never puts true effort into his self-proposed goals, and until the end of the movie, never seems to accomplish them. When he meets with Mr Ghosh he is enthusiastic about getting his poems published, but discovers that this was not the intention of the meeting, then makes little to no effort trying to convince Ghosh of his poetic prowess, choosing rather to be forlorn and listless. All of his actions in the film follow this general sense of melancholia, that Vijay is incapable of asserting himself.
I was interested in the reviewer’s interpretation of the Dutt’s use of visual constriction. True, Dutt seems to often use the idea of over the shoulder shots and feature framing to encapsulate Vijay, which I would say continues to contribute to the general sense of self-entrapment that the film conveys. The framing does well attribute itself to the concept of mental concentration, as well. Causing the eye to concentrate specifically on the given main character by constricting the surrounding environment, we as the viewer tend to internalize the same struggle that is felt by the main character in his self-perusal. Vijay’s internal struggle, one which ends up being that of self-worth and recognition, is indeed set free with the end of the film, with the first larger-scale shot of the film, in which we see the entirety of a room and the mental liberation that this broadness offers. As Vijay leaves this final room, it is as though a tremendous mental weight it finally lifted and the viewer can finally breath somewhat more comfortably.
The review of the film’s story continues to follow this trend of lugubrious character development. All the features of Vijay’s life sum with some sort of sorrow or lack of accomplishment due his lack of effort. His love for his mother is perished by her death, wherein he had promised her that he would take her away from his two money-mongering brothers, but she dies later in the film, marking further his list of failures. He seems to be unable to keep a job beyond the lowly coolie position that he can fall back on. He never loved Meena though he could have in his college years, and wrote of his love for her in his poems, but that lost love is not and cannot be reclaimed. Even his suicide is a failure, reinforcing the idea that the world is defeating and that a person will never get to accomplish the things that they wish to do, though this episode is pivotal in empowering Vijay.
It is only by chance and sorrow that Vijay’s goals are accomplished, as the end of the film well portrays. Vijay’s supposed death is a catalyst for the great fame of his poetry, though it seems that in reflection of this recognition Vijay would rather not have felt this accomplishment that he strove for and instead live out the fantastical and, ah yes, poetic sonority of a prospective future with Gulabo. This is the great ringing bell of the film, the dichotomous dispatch that belays the individual; should one pursue the selfish, perfect pride found in love between two souls, or disperse one’s love to the world and be adored by all but never touched?