Guru Dutt and Waheeda Rehman in the pose from the Kaagaz ke Phool poster

Paper Flowers, Real Thorns

An illustrated version of the Pyaasa posterIf the Pyaasa poster took me a while to decode, the poster of another great Guru Dutt movie, Kaagaz ke Phool (the one he directed right after Pyaasa and after which he never directed again), was much simpler to get.

In KKP, GD’s Hindi film director character, Suresh Sinha, is married but separated with a school-going daughter, who is in his wife’s custody. Suresh meets Shanti, Waheeda Rehman’s character, in a different city (Delhi, if I remember correctly) one stormy night. When she comes to Bombay, she eventually ends up being cast in his under-production movie on Devdas. Over the days, feelings and a great understanding develop between the two, but they also know they can’t bring these to fruition. This was the 1930s after all. Plus, it was the grain of the characters: both are seekers enough to like each other, but are also tormented by their morals in not wanting to break up a marriage. So, they remain anguished in their almost-relationship, which eventually ends, and ends despondently.

The Kaagaz ke Phool posterGD and WR bring out the dual feelings of desire and anguish marvellously in the poster: just look at their faces and the expressions they bear. But, also look at the rest of the body language. WR faces away from GD and seems to convey a feeling of wanting to pull herself away from this situation (unlike in the Pyaasa poster, where although not fully facing him, she doesn’t appear like she wants to move away from him). However, her head leans toward his, to indicate a level of interest and yearning coming from the core. As for GD, he seems to be clutching her like he doesn’t want her to go. In all the tight embracing and thoughts of pulling away, they look painfully torn. This kind of love can only happen on paper (kaagaz). And on a brilliant poster.

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The still, featuring Guru Dutt and Waheeda Rehman, that formed the basis of Pyaasa's movie poster

Design Poetry Too

An illustrated version of the Pyaasa posterEver since Pyaasa became my number one Hindi film of all time (during my ongoing deep discovery of Guru Dutt), I have been fascinated by its poster, perhaps because I am fascinated by GD (the filmmaker and the person), the movie, and visual / poster design. What does Vijay’s (GD’s poet character in the movie) face leaning on Gulab’s (Waheeda Rehman’s streetwalker character) head say about the movie? How does it symbolize the movie, for isn’t that what movie posters are meant to do?

The movie isn’t about love, at least not from Vijay’s side. Vijay is too drowned in his own sorrows and despair of the world (he laments that the world doesn’t recognize true poetry and creativity, and rarely and cruelly during the artist’s time) to notice anything outside his coat of gloom. Gulab does love Vijay, but she is not the one leaning toward him in the poster. Gulab pines for Vijay throughout the movie, but never reveals her feelings for him, not even at the end, at least not directly. However, Vijay finally comes for her in the last scene, and they walk away into the sunset together, holding hands, but looking more like companions, who have been tortured enough by the world and are now seeking a place “yahaan se duur, jahaan se phir duur na jaane pade” (far from here, from where we never need to go far away again).

And there you have it. Vijay rests on her head like one would rest their head on someone’s shoulders, seeking solace and comfort; you know, a shoulder to lean on? But it isn’t a shoulder that Gulab offers; she offers more. She offers her intellect, her understanding, her sensitivity, her sensibility. For didn’t she fall in love with him only through his poetry? As she heart-warmingly tells him in their first real conversational scene together, “When I have understand your thoughts and emotions, what else do I need to understand about you?” And perhaps, that is all that Vijay is pyaasa for.

Well, what do you know, Pyaasa’s poster has also become my number one Hindi film poster of all time.

 

Cover pic for this post with the text 'On1y The Best', the 'On1y' formed using the On1y logo
My logo for the 'Namami Gange' logo-design contest
The back/reverse of my visiting card

Irfanvertising: Well, Advertising Myself

Irfanvertising LogoIrfanvertising, as most people who follow this blog and especially this series would know, is where I discuss and comment on most things advertising: from branding to design, with special love for logos. Well, just this once, I’ll be talking about my own.

My website for my profile as a writer and ad consultant is now live, and yesterday, got my visiting card made too. Designed it myself (while I’m basically a writer/copywriter, do have a visual sense – coming from being in a creative field – and also do some basic design from time to time). And here I shall be talking of the thought – communicative and visual – that I put into it.

Messagevertising

The key element in any bit of communication is the message. My message, or rather my philosophy/motto/slogan/credo as a writer and ad guy is: Insight. Simplicity. I try and look for a key insight to tap into for any communication and then like to keep the communication simple (though no less effective; but when you do both, it pretty much ends up being effective). Since those initials are the same as those in my name (ok, ok, that’s why I chose them), it also ends up being tied very very integrally to me and my work.

Visualvertising

How do you depict ‘Insight, Simplicity’? I like certain colours, which proved to work well for my philosophy. Grey for ‘insight’, coming as it does from your grey cells. White for ‘simplicity’, for obvious reasons. And a nice, vibrant blue (specifically turquoise) to hold these together. (Blue is my favourite colour, coming from belonging to the water-bearer sign, I guess.)

My work philosophy: Insight. Simplicity.

Mine is not a company and I don’t intend to initially use my name as a brand name (though, like most people in the creative field, I would love if it becomes so). So, I didn’t want to create a logo out of my name, or as typically happens, out of the initials. (You know, CK, DK, name initial-surname initial.) But I wanted a graphic element – as a visual element on the card and also something I could use as a device or hook later if needed. But what could it be?

Graphic depicting how the dartboard idea led to the creation of a visual element for my visiting cardInsight and simplicity. Together they help you be bang-on. So, hey, a dart-board. But since it’s been used in communication since almost the hieroglyphics, I decided to graphicize it, giving it edges rather than keeping it round. Also kept only two circles (for simplicity) and from the same brand colours (blue-white-grey).

Visual element of part of graphicized dartboard in the top-right corner of my visiting card designBut again, as I didn’t want to use it full-on at the start, have tucked it away into a top corner, as only a visual element for now. If later, I want to use it as a full-blown icon, I’ll move it from its present position to something more centre-stage. When for instance, I make the next 100 cards.

Designvertising

Visual design is one thing. Design – that is, useable design – is another. I had been looking at visiting cards closely for the past few months. And became fairly clear of one thing: while having a very creative card – folds, holes, shapes, and other whoops and whistles – is very cool, it should also be easy to handle.

Photo of a corporate man putting a visiting card into his suit pocket

I wanted it to be easy to zip out and give to the other person and wanted the other person to find it easy to put it into their pocket/wallet (the only places I wanted it to be), rather than they first wowing at the cool card I have with three strings and two folds that they now have to wonder where to put on their person/baggage. User-friendly, in short. And practical: less time engaged in an element of the transaction and more time involved in the actual transaction.

Readyvertising

Front (obverse) and back (reverse) of my visiting card design

Here then is the final product. My name, profile and essential contacts on the front (though with a couple obscured for this space), with a corner of the graphicized dartboard peeking in from above. The back has offsetting turquoise with my message, and the work-related social media contacts below.

Now, time to go networking and hand these out.

Screenshot of the thREAD site with the at-present new story on top