Rajiv Rai made a number of super-blockbusters, from Yudh in 1985 to Asambhav in 2004 when he had to quit the country for various reasons. In an exclusive interview Rajiv Rai discusses Gupt.
26 Years of Gupt: Director Rajiv Rai reveals he was ‘advised against making it’; says, “Everyone thought a murder mystery had no repeat value”
Gupt, your 1997 blockbuster turns 26. Your thoughts?
I can’t believe 26 years have passed by since we released it. Do you know I was advised against making it.
Everyone thought a murder mystery had no repeat value. It was believed that once audiences knew who the killer was they had no interest in coming back to see the film. But I had my own views on this.
And what was that?
It was not about the identity of the killer alone. Why do we love the whodunits of Alfred Hithcock? There is a lot more to Gupt than the murder mystery. Even my Mohra had a killer on the loose. But people went back to see the film for many other reasons.
Including the songs ‘Tu Cheez Badi Hai Mast Mast’ and ‘Tip Tip Barsa Paani’?
That’s right. Therefore, in Gupt I had many other factors including Viju Shah’s music, which was very popular. The actors Bobby Deol, Kajol and Manisha Koirala were immensely liked in their roles.
I have heard that the identity of the killer was decided as the film was being shot?
No no. That’s a false myth about Gupta. When I wrote the script, I had identified the killer. The idea was to make the killer’s identity something that no member of the audience would suspect. We succeeded in that bang-on.
This brings us back to the original question. Why the durable popularity when everyone know who the killer is?
See, in every love story you know how it’s going to end. Everyone knows that screen romances end either with the lovers uniting or killing themselves. Why is Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge so popular when everyone knows Simran and Raj are going to be united? They have seen it happen innumerable times and yet they keep going back to it. Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet has been staged and filmed innumerable times although everyone knows how the fate of the couple.
So what’s your point here?
It is not the outcome but the process by which the plot reaches its conclusion that matters. In K Balachander’s Ek Duuje Ke Liye we know exactly how Kamal Haasan and Rati Agnihotri’s romance ends. But getting to know them , watching them sing dance and romance is what makes the film special. I think Gupt is more than just a whodunit.
Musician Viju Shah composed so many hit song for your films including Duniya haseenon ka mela in Gupt and Saat samundar paar in Vishwatma. Why didn’t he succeed beyond your cinema?
I don’’t think he tried too hard. He was never interested in the rat race.
Also Read: Rajiv Rai SLAMS the trend of recreations of his songs; says “In the future, I’ll take the LEGAL route in case anybody crosses the boundary when it comes to my music”
More Pages: Gupt Box Office Collection
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