The film tells, in flashback, the story of Suresh Sinha (Guru Dutt), a famous film director. His marriage to Bina (Veena) is on the rocks because her wealthy family sees filmmaking as a job lacking in social status. He is also denied access to his daughter Pammi (Baby Naaz), who is sent to a private boarding school in Dehradun.On a rainy night Sinha meets a woman, Shanti (Waheeda Rehman), and gives her his coat. She comes to the film studio to return the coat, unintentionally disrupting the shooting by walking in front of the camera.
While reviewing the rushes, Sinha recognises her potential as a star and casts her as Paro in Devdas. Shanti goes on to become an acclaimed star. Shanti and Suresh, two lonely people, come together. Their liaison is hotly debated in gossip columns and results in Pammis friends tormenting her in school. Pammi pleads with Shanti to leave Sinhas life and allow her parents marriage another chance.
Moved by Pammi's plea, Shanti throws away her career and becomes a school teacher in a small village. Pammi decides to live with her father, who fights his in-laws in court but is defeated and is forced to let Pammi go with her mother. Losing her and Shanti's departure drive Suresh to alcohol, a downhill slide in his career and consequent decline in his fortunes. Meanwhile Shanti is forced to return to films since she has a contract with the studio. Her producer agrees to hire Suresh because of Shanti, but his ego will not let him return and owe his job to Shantis star status; so she is unable to help him, as he is too far gone for redemption.
In the final scene, remembering his glorious past, he dies in the directors chair in an empty film studio, a lonely and forgotten man.
Guru Dutt, Waheeda Rehman, Naaz (as Baby Naaz), Johnny Walker, Veena, Mehmood, Tun Tun
GURU DUTT FILMS
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S. D. Burman