happy birthday kajol

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On Kajol's birthday, she became a villain and her secret remained a "gupt."

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Thursday, 5th August 2021

Over the course of her nearly three-decade career, Bollywood star Kajol has produced a number of films that can be classified as "quality cinema." Even if the movies ultimately failed her, she was able to leave an impression. Gupt: The Hidden Truth, released in 1997, is one such film. Gupt, directed by Rajiv Rai (of Mohra, Yudh, and Tridev fame), starred Manisha Koirala and Bobby Deol in supporting roles.

Aside from the main cast, it had a strong supporting cast that included Paresh Rawal, Om Puri, Raj Babbar, Prem Chopra, Dalip Tahil, Priya Tendulkar, and others. Gupt was a one-of-a-kind film for its time. It was a year in Hindi cinema when one foot was in the past and one foot was in the future. While there were some somewhat dated releases such as Koyla, Himalaya Putra, and Lahu Ke Do Rang, there were also Daud, Dil to Pagal Hai, and Chachi 420. And then, in the middle of the year, Gupt appeared with a female serial killer, played convincingly by Kajol.

Although Kajol's role was underwritten (her past issues and relationship with on-screen lover Bobby Deol were not fleshed out convincingly), it was what the actor was able to do with it that made a difference. It's worth noting that by the time Gupt was released, Kajol was already a bonafide star, having appeared in some of the most popular films of the time, including Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge, Baazigar, and Karan Arjun. So being offered a villainous role like Isha Diwan and accepting it readily had a risk factor attached to it. What if the bet backfired and the film bombed at the box office? And what about her fans, who had grown accustomed to Kajol's always sunny, bubbly on-screen persona by that point?

But, as they say, all's well that ends well. Gupt not only became one of the year's highest grossing films at the box office, but it also won three Filmfare awards. One, of course, for Kajol's performance as a vamp, for which she became the only leading lady to receive such an honour. There are some hamming moments, and Gupt would have fared better without the extra 30-40 minutes. However, it was the performances of Kajol and Om Puri that made the journey worthwhile. During the final confrontation with Manisha's character, you truly believed Kajol to be the insane murderer whose eyes glinted with blood lust.

Her protective body language towards Bobby's Sahil, as well as her irritating habit of repeating how Sahil belonged to her, added depth to Isha. While Manisha was stunning, Bobby also performed admirably in his role. The choreography was definitely an eyesore, as it did not fit in with Gupt's modern, well-made soundtrack. Despite the misses, Gupt is an excellent addition to Kajol's filmography.

Let's hope we see more of her on our screens in the coming years.


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The Indian Express

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