DeQoded: The Cult of ‘Gunda’ on Mithun Chakraborty’s Birthday
<i>Gunda </i>has acquired a cult following over the years
Gunda has acquired a cult following over the years

DeQoded: The Cult of ‘Gunda’ on Mithun Chakraborty’s Birthday

The world calls him Mithun da but his bhakts prefer the term Prabhuji. As we celebrate his birthday, we have to admit that Prabhuji is like that knight of the fabled round table who has undertaken many tasks and quests time and again to make this world a better place.

Like saving the country from deshdrohis (Surakshaa.Commando), or dancing and singing to glory (Disco Dancer, Kasam Paida Karne Wale Ki ) or shaming Charles Bronson in the revenge department as he rampages on (Chandaal, Cheetah), to making Ooty a hub for cinema, a business plan that should be studied in B-schools. His name and fame spread far and wide, as far as erstwhile USSR and beyond.

But his greatest achievement was, is and will remain Gunda (1998).

Directedby the ‘I AM LEGEND’ Kanti Shah, Gunda is a treatise, that celebrates the codeof Prabhuji.

What is the story of Gunda? You don’t ask that. Yes, the rules of Gunda are stricter than the Fight Club. You need to feel it to understand it. Dil Mein Aata Hein Dimag Mein Nahi.

It’s baseless to ask why Prabhuji, who plays Shankar the coolie here, has a mobile phone and rocket launcher?

The only coolie in the world with a mobile phone AND rocket launcher
The only coolie in the world with a mobile phone AND rocket launcher

Why do goons arrive in Ambassadors and Autos?

This was before Uber and Ola
This was before Uber and Ola

Is that monkey the avatar of Lord Hanuman?

Monkey tricks in <i>Gunda</i>
Monkey tricks in Gunda

What happened to Shankar’s father’s ‘mooch’?

Amazing continuity and eye for detail
Amazing continuity and eye for detail

These questions will bother you, but they shouldn’t deter you from immersing yourself in the ganga-jamuna of Gunda.

Gunda’s biggest complexity is its simplicity. How can a movie so simple easily deal with so many metaphors that will make you scratch your head in joy as well as in delight?

Kanti Shah’s Loha (1997) was just a preview of things to come, a taut teaser that was unexpected but not an anomaly. The stage had to be set and Loha made way for Gunda.

And here Game of Thrones fans, you’re not alone. Every Gunda fan, old and new feel the pain of losing their favourite characters.

Here, the one and only, Lambu Atta, as he is killed by his arch-nemesis Bulla.

Lambu Atta dying to dance.
Lambu Atta dying to dance.

Gunda’s premise was much bigger, and brutal. And as India approached the new millennium what we needed was a movie that would satirize the nation without provoking or invoking madness that we now see at the drop of the hat. And what we got was Gunda, Kanti Shah’s magum opus where Prabhuji takes on Bulla and his gang. Blood, Honour and Sweat (just say it once like Big B from Mohabbatein), were at stake as the common man, Shankar, fight the evil that has engulfed the nation.

And how can you but ignore these faces, on the throes of death as well as ecstasy,some victims of evil, while the rest swallowed up by Shankar as he quenches his thirst for revenge.

This montage is a killer
This montage is a killer
Gunda, though a Kanti Shah production was a continuation of Prabhuji’s Ooty tradition where Prabhuji through his saahas and doordrishti started a parallel Bollywood of sorts that made him the darling B and C grade centres.

He churned out movies by the hundred, and all more or less recovered their money as the the investment was low, but among them Gunda still stands the tallest. Just like Lucky Chikna’s flying den of debauchery (played by the recently departed Razak Khan) that has to be most amazing place in Gundaverse.

Lucky Chikna’s love-nest
Lucky Chikna’s love-nest

Another grand aspect of Gunda is its rhyming dialogues that should not be dismissed as dialogue writer Basheer Babbar’s wishful musings but each and every dialogue carries meaning that once you decipher will make you float like a butterfly but also sting you like a bee.

Check out this gem:

Main gareebo ke liye hero hoon... aur tum jaise logon ke liye villain... naam hai mera Shankar, hoon main Gunda No.1
Mithun pokes Shakti Kapoor in <i>Gunda</i>
Mithun pokes Shakti Kapoor in Gunda

The Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything is, was and will be Gunda.

The one and only Mithun Chakraborty
The one and only Mithun Chakraborty

(The writer is a PhD student currently completing his thesis and working on Postcolonial Science Fiction besides being a die-hard fan of Gunda and other desi trashy films.)

(This story is from The Quint’s archives and is being republished to mark Mithun Chakraborty’s birthday.)

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