Mumbai: Playing an obsessive lover-turned-serial killer in “Gupt: The Hidden Truth” was a twist that no one saw coming, says Bollywood superstar Kajol, who describes taking up the film as a “gutsy” choice.
Regarded as one of the best thrillers from Hindi cinema, “Gupt” completed 25 years of its release last week. Directed by Rajiv Rai, the 1997 film also starred Bobby Deol and Manisha Koirala in the lead.
“Gupt” followed Sahil (Deol), accused of murdering his stepfather (Raj Babbar), breaks out of jail on a quest to prove his innocence with the help of his girlfriend Isha (Kajol) and Sheetal (Koirala), his friend.
“It was the shock value of the film, the character and the fact that nobody expected it to come. It was gutsy at that time to do it. It’s the story and role that’s what really got me to do it,” Kajol told PTI in an interview here.
“Gupt” was a complete package with taut writing by Rai and Shabbir Boxwala, strong performances by the cast, and Viju Shah’s wide-ranging soundtrack with lyrics by Anand Bakshi.
Kajol said her father, filmmaker Shomu Mukherjee was friends with Rai’s father, producer Gulshan Rai, so when the director came for the narration of “Gupt” she was excited.
“I think he was a little nervous because he was not sure whether I would do the film. He sat for a two-hour narration and was sweating profusely. But by the end of it, both Tanisha (her sister) and I were like ‘I have to do this film’. There was no question about it, it was perfect for me,” the 47-year-old actor added.
Kajol, who was till then known for her goody two-shoes characters in films such as “Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge”, “Baazigar”, and “Yeh Dillagi”, became the first actress to win the Filmfare Award for best performance in a negative role for “Gupt”.
But it was her mother and veteran actor Tanuja’s praise that she said was most special for her.
“I remember my mother telling me, ‘Oh my God, what a film!’. And that’s the highest accolade that I can get because my mother rarely likes my films, she would like my performances but not films,” she added.
Kajol was speaking at a special screening of “Gupt”, organised by Radio Nasha at the Metro INOX Cinemas here. The event was also attended by Deol and Rai.
It’s difficult to recreate the success of “Gupt” in the age of streamers, said the actor.
“… It was also the time when there was nothing else (mediums). A big film would definitely be a hit as we didn’t have social media and had no other form of entertainment, except cinema. So, for a film to do 25 weeks or a golden jubilee was much easier then. There is so much competition with a big screen today.” This month also marks Kajol’s three decades in the film industry. Her debut feature “Bekhudi”, directed by Rahul Rawail, was released on July 31, 1992.
Reflecting on her journey, the actor said she is grateful to filmmakers for offering her great roles and her fans for their unending love.
“I am lucky I have had great films, worked with some fabulous directors, and had great music in films. I will always be grateful that my fans believe in me. And all this has got me to 30 years, I am here, kicking, streaming, alive and relevant,” Kajol, who made her digital debut with the Netflix film “Tribhanga” in 2021, added.
What has changed about the industry since the 1990s, she said, is that now there are many avenues for an artist to stay afloat.
“The stardom has come down, and so has failure. You don’t fail anymore, you are never called a ‘failure’ anymore. There are so many more things that you can do with your life, and that in itself makes it so much easier to bear the fact that the superstar status is not there anymore,” she added.
“Gupt” also featured Paresh Rawal, Om Puri, Prem Chopra, Dalip Tahil, Priya Tendulkar, and Harsh Lunia, among others.