Vijay Anand’s magnum opus Guide (1965) is not just a story of a fallen man searching for redemption, but also of a woman breaking free of her shackles and finding her identity.
Guide is as much the story of Raju (Dev Anand) finding god as it is the story of Rosie (Waheeda Rehman) finding herself. Before Raju loses everything and discovers his true calling, it is Rosie who carves her own destiny. Rosie’s journey needs Raju, and it is during the song Aaj Phir Jeene Ki Tamanna Hai that hero and heroine become companions for life.
Based on RK Narayan’s novel of the same name, Guide is the story of smooth-talking tourist guide Raju who meets archaeologist Marco (Kishore Sahu) and his neglected wife Rosie. When Rosie, a gifted dancer, attempts suicide, it is Raju who cares for her. When Marco leaves for an expedition, he leaves behind money for his wife to spend.
Intoxicated with her newfound freedom, Rosie buys a pair of anklets and prances about in the marketplace. The locals look at her suspiciously, but she does not have a care in the world. Rosie is a dancer and she thinks and moves like one. Raju keeps the ruffians at bay and they are soon in a truck on their way to where the heart takes them. Raju, perplexed, wonders out loud, “Till yesterday, you seemed like a 40-year-old woman who had lost all hope and happiness along the way, now you seem like a 16-year-old, simple, sweet, filled with the innocence of youth.” Rosie explains her transformation with the Lata Mangeshkar classic.
The song, written by Shailendra, is the lightest and the most heartwarming in the entire SD Burman soundtrack, which is filled with mostly sombre numbers.
Rosie rolls about on the hay singing to her heart’s content. For once, she is living as she should. Of note in the song sequence (and in the entire film, for that matter) is Fali Mistry’s kinetic camerawork as it swoops down, snakes up and glides around Rosie, highlighting Rehman’s beauty and dancing prowess. At one point, seeing the daredevil Rosie, two local women atop camels peep at her lifting their veils. Rosie is not a pushover anymore. She is an inspiration.
As the song continues in a spectacularly edited sequence shot at Chittor fort, Rosie dances over steep walls, often running the risk of falling down. She is almost about to miss a step and face imminent death (“Ho dar hai safar mein kahin kho na jaoon main”) when she finds Raju down below, signalling her to hold it together. Throughout the song, Raju keeps a watchful eye over Rosie. Her theme song is also a premonition for the passionate romance that is about to bloom, and later, spell doom.