Pyaasa is the story of a young poet Vijay's (Guru Dutt) search for love and recognition. Rejected by his own brothers, he leaves home to live on the streets of Calcutta where he finds Gulab (Waheeda Rehman), a prostitute and an ardent devotee of Vijay's poetry. Soon love blossoms between them. But, in a bizzare turn of events, a despairing Vijay tries to end his life. Though he survives, he is reported dead. A grieving Gulab publishes his poems, which become a huge success. When Vijay returns to claim his work, no one recognizes him and he is sent to a lunatic asylum. Does Vijay finally get the recognition and love that he's craved for all his life?