One of Waheeda Rehman's earlier movies, Kaagaz Ke Phool, a semi- autobiographical fare, remains one of Hindi film industry's tragic cinemas. A story revolving around a successful film director's fascination with his protégé and the former's downfall, Kaagaz Ke Phool starred real life mentor-protégé pair Guru Dutt and Waheeda Rehman.
Suresh Sinha (Guru Dutt) is a successful film director, who meets Shanti (Waheeda Rehman) on a rainy night and offers her his raincoat. When Shanti arrives on Sinha's film sets to return back the coat, the director realizes the makings of a fine actress in Shanti and takes her under his wing. As Shanti delivers a hit after hit, Sinha, the divorced father of a teenage girl, starts falling for her and the two people are drawn to each other because of their loneliness. However, fate has something else in store for the couple and Shanti decides to go away from Sinha's life after Sinha's daughter Pammi (Naaz) pleads with her to go out of their lives as she plans to reunite her father with her mother Bina (Veena).
After Shanti leaves the industry to become a teacher in a small rural school, a devastated Sinha tries to find solace in his work and paternal duties but when he loses Pammi in a custody battle, a broken down Sinha turns to alcohol. A common friend and Bina's brother Rakesh (Johnny Walker) intimates Shanti about Sinha's fall from grace and persuades her to make a comeback so as to help Sinha's career. However, by then, it is too late and even Shanti is unable to bring back Sinha from the depths of his sorrow, which pushes him towards a tragic end.
Like mentioned before, Kaagaz Ke Phool was a semi-autobiographical film by Guru Dutt. Waheeda had been discovered by Dutt at a South flick's success party and had persuaded her to come to Mumbai to be an actress. Moreover at the time of production of the film, Guru Dutt's marriage to Geeta Dutt was under strain due to his feelings for Waheeda Rehman and the actor-director brings this out quite masterfully in his performance.
Guru Dutt's portrayal of a lonely man, who has it all only to lose it due to a cruel twist of fate, pushing him into an abyss of sorrow and angst, is sure to tug at one's heart-strings. As Shanti, Waheeda Rehman too proves her worth, playing the naïve small town girl, who transforms into a sought after actress, but whose loneliness remains unaffected even after achieving success and riches. The stoic self-sacrificing character of the female lead indeed adds an aura of nobility and quiet dignity to the role and Rehman is flawless as the woman who has to walk away from the love of her life, against her better judgement.
What adds to the tragic aura is the soulful music of the film-from waqt ne kiya kya haseen sitam to dekhi zamane ki yaari, the music complements the film and the situations with effortless ease.
Needless to say, Kaagaz Ke Phool remains one of the true classics of Indian cinema...