The Guide Was Ahead Of Its Time In Depicting A Woman’s Dreams And Autonomy – Book v/s Movie

The Guide by RK Narayan was adapted to screen both in English and HIndi, starring Dev Anand and Waheeda Rehman. How does the book compare to the movie?

I am sure most of us would have seen The Guide. With the outstanding script, veteran actors playing major roles and SD Burman’s music putting everything together, it was a blockbuster and a wholesome movie.

The movie was based on RK Narayan’s book The Guide which came in 1958 and went on to become a bestselling book. It also won the author major Sahitya Akademi Award and when made into a film it won him the Filmfare Award for the best story.

Dev Anand was drawn to the storyline and approached RK Narayan to convince and seek his approval to make a movie on his novel. After they both agreed, under Vijay Anand‘s direction movie was directed and released in 1965. It was one of the biggest blockbusters of the time.

*Spoilers Alert*

A look at the book the movie is based on

Recently I got a chance to go through the book.

It is the story of a guide Raju, who is talkative and cordial and who falls in love with Rosie.

Marco and Rosie are a tourist couple who come to visit the city of Malgudi. They are together yet distant apart. Marco is an archaeologist whose fascination with ancient civilization has turned him into an eternal tourist and brings him to Malgudi town.

Rosie, a passionate dancer, against her husband’s wish, wants to pursue her dreams. Marco, being a workaholic has little or no time for his wife. A gap created by their deteriorating relationship gives way to Raju in her life. Raju gets drawn to her modern yet simple beauty. He praises her dancing skills and gives her hope to fulfill her dreams. Her husband gets wind of their growing proximity. He leaves Rosie behind and disappears in the dark hours of the night.

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Raju’s love and support together with Rosie’s hard work make her a tremendous dancer thus fulfilling her dream. A new identity, new life, name, and fame, they both enjoy it until the day Raju gets arrested for forging Nalini’s (Rosie’s new name) signature on some legal document.

After spending years in jail he gets out. He decides to go back to his village. On the way when he was having a respite near the bank of a river in a village, seeing his long hair, overgrown beard, and a shawl draped around his shoulder, people mistake him for a yogi, who could get them rid of their problems. People start pouring in with their problems and soon the news spread like wildfire. People start offering fruits, vegetables, and grains.

Raju starts living there with this new identity bestowed upon him by the villagers. Once the drought hit the village people came running to him and requested him to bring in the rain through his spiritual and divine power which they believed their Yogi owned.

Now their only hope was their Yogi, they began to serve and respect him even more.

Confused and concerned he announces to observe a fast for 11 days. He assured the villagers that by the end of his fast it would definitely rain and the village would become as prosperous and thriving as before.

Every day he would gaze at the sky and wait for the rain.

On the last day, the weak and vulnerable Yogi Ji imagines that the sky is covered with clouds and it is raining on the other side of the mountain, and breathes his last.

The unique storyline and eloquent writing are the author’s forte which is enough to grab any reader’s attention.

Changes made while adapting The Guide to screen

However, the story in the movie was twisted a little.

In the movie, Marco’s character shown as a man who indulges in drinking and has unjustifiable relationships with other women. Rosie’s character openly walks out of a marriage to team up with another man, Raju, so considering the social stigma attached to showing a woman’s infidelity and disloyalty to her husband, Marco’s character had to be downgraded. To achieve the climax and make it acceptable to the audience it was necessary to put down the husband’s character.

However, this has been achieved without downgrading the husband’s character in the book by the brilliance of the author RK Narayan.

In the end, the protagonist (Yogi Ji) witnesses rain while taking his last breath, but the book concludes on a note open to interpretation.

RK Narayan was disappointed, even annoyed by these alterations, but he surely knew that the adaptation of the novel into a movie happens with some cuts and changes, and that the directors are allowed to use their creative freedom to make it acceptable to a larger audience and give them the right message and lesson.

The movie, however, did justice and remained faithful to the rest of the book.

Both the movie and book are amazing and a must watch/ must read.

Editor’s note: The Guide was shown in theatres in September on the 100th birth anniversary of Dev Anand, as his most loved film.

Want a copy of The Guide?

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Image source a still from the film The Guide, and book cover Amazon.

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