Much has been talked and written about Gunda, the Kanti Shah epic from 90s. While I always wanted to write about this masterpiece, I never had the confidence to do so. I never considered myself qualified enough to write about this cult movie. I never thought I would be able to bring any perspective which hasn’t been covered.
It’s not just a movie. It’s a complex social commentary on the situation of bad guys and good guys in India. How they evolve into what they become and how society perceives them as individuals. It’s an almanac for anyone who wants to see the progress that we as humans have made in this country not only as Gundas and Policewalas, but also in terms of means of transport available to us
Gunda has become Sachin Tendulkar of movies – one can hardly find anything to write about which hasn't already been covered.
It is a near impossible job. Yet, I have to knock off one item from bucket list before my mortality comes in effect.
Hence, here is my effort.
At least when I die and knock at almighty’s door, I can tell him – I not only watched Gunda many a times, I also wrote tribute to it. I am sure that will be my key to heaven. Even heaven will have a cinema hall continuously running Gunda.
Legend has it Quentin Tarantino copied the concept of Pulp Fiction from Gunda. Yes, he time traveled. People have been ostracized by their friends because they hadn't watched Gunda. Marriages have been broken of Gunda. A lot has happened because of people haven’t witness this piece of sheer genius.
I remember watching Gunda quite late, sometime in 2004-2005. I remember being alone in hostel when someone offered to share the movie on IP messenger – “MithunDa’s best work, Gunda on offer”. I've always been a fan of MithunDa and didn’t even wink before accepting the offer.
After 45 minutes of the movie, some of my friends came to my room and found me in frozen state. Yes, frozen. I was shell-shocked to see such artistic brilliance - the golden dialogues, unbelievably great acting, brutally real portrayal of society, the vision for future and ability to capture the emotion of the viewers.
The movie was beyond imagination.
Make no mistake. Gunda is a lot about symbolism. Just that one needs to have an eye to catch it.
Shankar, the protagonist played by MithunDa, is a coolie by profession although he is always found on runways. This wasn’t a directorial blunder. This was symbol of aspirations of middle class in 90s – we all travelled in trains and dreamt of, for once, travelling in aeroplanes.
To the new generation who just login to all those fancy travel sites and book air tickets with a mouse click, we the generation of 90s used to dream about it. Air travel used to be a bucket list item.
While traveling in those sleeper class compartments, we all peeped out of the windows to have a look at the planes whenever we heard one flying. Mentally, we all aspired to be at airports rather than on dirty railway platform. Shankar showed how to dream beyond our pay grades. He did it physically. Within a few years, it became a reality.
Bulla, the main villain played by Mukesh Rishi, is a goon. He always says “Mera naam hai Bulla, main rakhta hoon humesha Khulla”.
Life, comes in shades of grey. As Dumbledore told Harry – Happiness can be found in darkest of times. Similarly, art can be found even in the hearts of most dangerous villains. Bulla’s artistic nature not only won hearts of millions, it showed us we must not forget to look for good even in the worst of souls. Bulla’s another poem when his sister is killed by a rival could have even competed for Grammy.
“Behen, tujhe lambu aata ne maar kar lamba kar diya,
Maachis ki teeli se khambha kar diya”
Politician Pote’s introduction talks a lot about political scenarios.
“Mera naam hai Pote
Jo apne baap ke bhi nahin hotay”
Politicians are known to be quite selfish and opportunistic creatures. It was a prophecy which maybe someone like Kanshiram should’ve paid attention to. While he brought Mayavati to the world of politics and played role of godfather, she dumped her after few years. Alas, Kanshiram missed it.
I am sure he wouldn’t have watched Gunda. It was a prophecy LK Advani should’ve noticed. He wouldn’t have seen Gunda either. I just hope current PM watches Gunda. Well, just saying.
Each and every character of Gunda was a symbol hinting events in future.
There days we do see a lot of outrage in cases of crime against women. MithunDa’s movies have been highlighting this malice in our society for ages – ask all those who played the role of his sisters. Difference Gunda showed us was that it’ss not just MithunDa’s, the protagonist’s, sister is victimized in the movie. Even villain’s sister meets the same fate.
The message given is – all those eve teasers out there proving your manhood on weaker sex, don’t forget you too have women at your homes.
Quentin Tarantino wasn’t the only man to have time travelled to watch and get inspired by Gunda. Even a guy named Issac Newton in 17th century heard about the movie, time travelled to watch it and was awestruck by it. One particular dialogue impressed him immensely
"Zalzala jaag utha hai! ab laashen aise girengi jaise chhote bachche ki nunni se peshaab”
As he went back in his time, he couldn’t get over it. Legend has it that tapakna implanted the ideas about existence of gravity in his mind. Apple, as we all know, was just put up by censor board in science books.
One of the common things about lot of cult movies is that they are hardly a hit to start with. People take time understand the greatness of them. It takes time to digest the brilliance. For the first few days of Sholay, audience was so silent that makers of the movie started thinking to change the ending. Andaj Apna Apna was a flop to start with. I wonder if anybody noticed release of Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron.
Gunda was one of them. It took years to attain the status it enjoys today. I wonder if anybody who has attended college in India would be unaware of existence of this gem. Everyone has watched Gunda. There is another lesson. Never give up hope. Even if you are a movie running in empty halls, if you have substance, you can become a cult one day.
In case you are one of such kind, haven’t watch Gunda, I give you two options – either watch it NOW or put an end to your life. The life which hasn’t seen Gunda is anyhow meaning less.
PS: Legend of Gunda cannot be covered in few lines. Hope to write more about it.