Saturday, Mar 25, 2023

When Kajol turned a villain and her secret remained ‘gupt’

On Kajol's birthday, we take a look back at her 1997 thriller movie Gupt, which also starred Bobby Deol and Manisha Koirala.

kajolKajol in a still from Rajiv Rai directorial Gupt. (Photo: Trimurti Films)

In her almost three decade career, Bollywood star Kajol has delivered multiple movies that can be classified as ‘quality cinema’. Even if the movies ultimately failed her, she has managed to make an impact.  One such film is the 1997 release Gupt: The Hidden Truth. Directed by Rajiv Rai (of Mohra, Yudh and Tridev fame), Gupt also starred Manisha Koirala and Bobby Deol in significant parts.

Apart from its main cast, it also had a solid supporting cast in Paresh Rawal, Om Puri, Raj Babbar, Prem Chopra, Dalip Tahil, Priya Tendulkar and the likes. Gupt was a unique film for its time. It was a year when Hindi cinema had one foot in the past and one in the future. While we still had somewhat dated releases like Koyla, Himalaya Putra and Lahu Ke Do Rang, there were also releases like Daud, Dil to Pagal Hai and Chachi 420. And somewhere in the middle of the year, out sprang Gupt with a female serial killer, portrayed credibly by Kajol.

Although Kajol’s part was underwritten (her past issues and her relationship with even her on-screen lover Bobby Deol was not fleshed out believably), it was what the actor was able to do with it made a difference. It is interesting to note that by the time Gupt released, Kajol was already a bonafide star, with some of the most popular movies of the time under her belt, like Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge, Baazigar and Karan Arjun. So to then be offered a villainous part like Isha Diwan and to take it up readily certainly had an attached risk factor to it. What if the gamble failed and the film tanked at the box office? And what about her fans, who, by that time had become used to soaking up the always sunshiny, bubbly on-screen persona of Kajol?

But all’s well that ends well. Gupt not only became one of the highest grossing movies at the box office that year, but also managed to bag three Filmfare awards. One, of course, for Kajol’s turn as a vamp, who became the only leading lady to be given such an award. There are moments of hamming, and Gupt would have done better without that extra 30-40 minutes. But it was Kajol and Om Puri’s performances that made the ride worthwhile. During the final confrontation with Manisha’s character, you really believed Kajol as the nutty murderer whose eyes glinted with blood lust. Her protective body language towards Bobby’s Sahil and her maddening way of repeating how Sahil belonged to her added that much depth to Isha.

While Manisha looked stunning, Bobby also carried off the part he was given. What was definitely an eyesore was the choreography, which did not go at all with the modern, well-made soundtrack of Gupt. However, despite the misses, Gupt remains a great addition to Kajol’s filmography. Here’s hoping that we get to see more of her on our screens in the coming years.

You can watch Gupt on ZEE5. 

First published on: 05-08-2021 at 08:33 IST
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