Vijay (Guru Dutt) is an unsuccessful poet whose works are not taken seriously. Unable to bear the taunting of the publishers or his own brothers, he stays away from home often out on the streets. While on the streets he encounters a prostitute who falls in love with him and his poetry. He also encounters his ex-girlfriend and discovers she is married to a big publisher. Often described as Guru Dutt's real masterpiece, 'Pyaasa' tells of the thirst for love, recognition and spiritual fulfilment.