#Rewatching90sMovies: Gupt is More About Female Desire than Bobby Deol's 'Wanna Frandship' Act
Gupt did break a lot of stereotypes back then and it's totally worth watching it in 2018 even if you hate Deol's locks or his moves to the Hindi version of 'Will you frandship with me?'
Editor's note: Since cinema is not only a form of entertainment but also an important cultural tool that has the power to shape opinions, we are reviewing classics and trying to see them through the lens of the current socio-political climate. The aim is to call out biases, misrepresentation and everything else that is problematic so that we can gauge our journey thus far and the road ahead.
Director: Rajiv Rai
Cast: Kajol, Manisha Koirala, Bobby Deol
Twenty years ago, when I first watched Bobby Deol doing that signature step of jumping from one spot to the other while shaking his head (and his unmissable locks) I had an instant crush on him. But then I was 8 and perhaps I didn't know better. At almost 30, I watched Gupt again, and I crushed over Deol all over again despite the maniac moves. Yep, you can stop reading if you are already judging me.
This time Gupt wasn't quite a gupt plot for me. I already knew who will die, and I already knew the mysterious killer. And that may be the reason why I didn't focus much on the plot but rather the women in the movie-- Kajol and Manisha Koirala, who played Isha and Sheetal respectively. The story was less about Sahil and his arrest or his escape from the jail through a tunnel (with animated rats in them), but was more about the two women and their love, obsession and desire for this Sahil.
The crime plot begins when Sahil's stepfather, who also happened to be the governor of a nameless place, is killed. All fingers point to Sahil and he lands up in jail. This is when Sheetal (Manisha Koirala) who is apparently in love with Sahil, and was to get married to him, decides to help him prove his innocence. Incidentally, Sahil wasn't aware of this marriage announcement till the evening of his birthday. However, Sheetal was. In fact, that is what ticked him off and he almost put a dagger to his stepfather's chest till his mother intervened. And that is what was also used against him in the court of law. Basically, the lesson here is: never shock your unsuspecting children and announce their wedding at their birthday party.
While Sheetal's love for Sahil may seem unconditional-- she spends a bomb in sending a non-Indian sailor to rescue Sahil when he jumps off the tunnel and into what seems like an ocean, she dances in the middle of snow (though that was only in her head), she takes him home and lets him sleep on her bed with his dirty shoes on, and she giggles everytime inspector Udham Singh fails to nab Sahil after his escape. Clearly, no one told her that she could be arrested for abetting a criminal, but then, of course, this is a Bollywood movie and I am not supposed to look for sense. But after all, her love isn't that unconditional either and you realise that if you watch the film closely. While Sahil repeatedly says that he is love with Isha, his childhood friend, played by Kajol, Sheetal doesn't give up.
When she rescues him and brings him home, she changes into her night suit and then goes and smells Deol from toe to head (I am not kidding), while he sleeps. She makes prank calls to Sahil when she finds out their families want them to get married, and later at some point in the movie she even argues with her father and tells him that Sahil IS in love with her though he was happily dancing around (Read: Making out) with Isha (Kajol) inside his hiding spot, a cave. Talk about entitlement, huh?
Now let's talk about Isha (Kajol). Sahil is in love with her, and she is obsessed with him. In fact, her obsession goes to such an extent that she goes around killing everyone who tries to come in between them. Forget the stepfather and the loyal assistant, she even killed a dog because it bit Sahil when he was a child. Eh, what? While all of this is unforgivable and paints Isha as not a very sane human, it is still refreshing to see a female character turn into a villain. Isha never pretends to not be a sexual being unlike most heroines we saw in the '90s. Even though her very supportive father tells her that she is his 'izzat' because she is a woman, she doesn't care much about this. The song Yeh Pyasi Jawani where she is climbing and crawling over Sahil is enough proof. She is a woman with a goal-- of basically killing everyone who scolds, yells, or even barks at Sahil and she doesn't need a man to help her with any of it.
Yes, of course, there is that cliched jealousy between the two lovers of Sahil and there are some absolutely painful dialogues. But I have to admit, Gupt did break a lot of stereotypes back then and it's totally worth watching it in 2018 even if you hate Deol's locks or his moves to the Hindi version of 'Will you frandship with me?'
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