As an actor, Guru Dutt acted in about 16 films. In most of the films; Guru Dutt acted for the directors than himself. His acting career was his passion and also a product of frustration. He admired the mannerisms of Dev Anand who was his lead actor of his earlier films, however he made it a point to abandon his mannerisms and was unconvinced of pushing him too hard and thus in the process much complications entered their friendship. Guru Dutt decided to take up the task of grease painting himself. It is a record that for all his films, he thought of another actor from long before he took on the role himself. Being an actor by compulsion, he truly excelled in the craft. His performances can be rated as at its best and suited all the requirements of the scene and the film. He did well with the dark roles that immortalized him. The films like 'Baaz', 'Aar Paar' and 'Mrs and Mrs 55? would have done by some other actor but Guru Dutt playing the lead role with all his passion and love that was rare. Acting was not only the sphere where Guru Dutt's genius lay; his role as a director to justify the acclamation heaped upon him.
Acting was indeed such a field where this genius director won critical acclamation. The role of Guru Dutt as the poet in Pyaasa, struggling to survive in the face of sheer materialism and selfishness is unforgettable. Again the depressed and dejected character of the director in Kaagaz ke Phool was a masterpiece by Guru Dutt. He portrayed the helplessness of a sensitive man in both these films with absolute perfection. Some other notable films where Guru Dutt acted with a marked excellence and which have left his indelible mark are: