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aka A Game of Chance 1951 143’ b&w Hindi d/co-st Guru Dutt pc Navketan co-st/sc/dial Balraj Sahni lyr Sahir Ludhianvi c V. Ratra m S.D. Burman lp Dev Anand, Geeta Bali, Kalpana Kartik, Roopa Varma, K.N. Singh, K. Dhawan, Srinath, Rashid Ahmed, Abu Baker, Nirmal Kumar, Habib

Guru Dutt’s directorial debut was a follow-up of Afsar (1950), the film with which the brothers Anand launched Navketan and which signalled a transition in Dev Anand’s screen persona. Madan (Anand) is a small-time gambler forced into joining the owner of the Star Hotel, a mysterious and shadowy criminal (Singh), to pay for his sister’s medical expenses. Other characters are Rajani (Kartik), a doctor, her fiance, the cop Ramesh (Dhawan), and later Leena (Bali), a cabaret dancer who is killed and for whose murder Madan is framed. The elusive villain eventually turns out to be Rajani’s father. Madan, condemned to death, is saved by Ramesh who lays a trap to catch the villain. Dutt demonstrates a confident assimilation of the Warner Bros. film noir style, esp. in the lighting, the camera placements and the editing. Even though it was his directorial debut, the film already shows a remarkable talent for song picturisation, something Dutt became famous for. One of the film-makers who apparently fascinated him at this time was John Huston, an inspiration he also used in his second film, Jaal (1952). Includes Geeta Dutt’s famous song Tadbir se bigdi huyi.