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Interview with Ram Gopal Varma by Jeevi
Date: 11 August 2006
Ram Gopal Varma

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Ram Gopal Varma is in city to participate in audio launch of Shiva 2006 at Marriot tonight. caught up with Ramu at Vaishno Academy office for an exclusive interview. He spoke at length about various things. Here are the excepts from his interview -

What went wrong with Shock film?
If I knew that I would not have made that film.

What is your post analysis of Shock?
I think post analysis is a stupid way of looking at films. I feel you should listen to audience when they say movie is good or bad. Doing that analysis is highly speculative. Before the release of my debut film Shiva everybody told me that Shiva won’t work at box office because women won’t like it, it is highly violent, there is no family drama and there is no comedy track. Since Shiva was a hit, people forgot the above mentioned factors and praised the film. If film were a flop, they would have attributed the same reasons for film's fate. So post analysis is irrelevant.

Can’t we learn from the failures of earlier films?
No. It is not possible. Every film is different. You can’t learn from something that already happened. You might wish to do it. Films eventually work on feelings. It depends up on whether you are able make the audiences feel or not.

In the audio function of James, you said that it would be like Shiva?
I made James with an intention of making a film like Shiva. When you see some exciting scene, photograph or sequence in daily life, you get carried away by over all what it should be and start getting confused that it has become like that.

You also said that Telugu audiences can’t understand your films?
I would never give such stupid statements. I might have said that my sensibilities might not match that of general crowds. For example my kind of sensibilities might not match with that of Karan Johar’s.

If there are 7 crores of movie watching Telugu people and if 7 lakh people watch my film and if I can make my budget work the money I earned, then the film is workable. It is all about placing the product as per the market segment. At that time I believed that James was a very good film. After the release, I realized that I made a mistake. I thought that instead of making something like Shiva, let me make Shiva itself.

Shiva 2006 is an out-dated concept. More than a hundred films came after Zanzeer with a storyline of cop fighting a corrupt system. The same concept was repeated so many times because audience want to watch it so many times. Its working. My point here is to give new treatment to an outdated concept.

Shiva is a landmark film in Telugu film industry and Telugu movie lovers have lot of emotional bonding with Shiva film. But you made this film in Hindi now and dubbing it in Telugu. Don’t you think you are hurting Shiva fans by doing so?
I think you are more sentimental about Shiva than me (laughs). Jokes aside, your point is well taken. When I shifted to Bombay in 1995 while making Rangeela, I mentally got tuned to Bombay. I consider myself a Hindi filmmaker, no longer a Telugu filmmaker. My sensibilities have changed. My basic equations with all the concerned have changed.

The success of Shiva can only fuel the next film I made. After that whether it is coming in Telugu, Hindi or Tamil, it is just a business aspect of it which is run by various concerned people. To make a film and to tell why I made that film is what I want to take care of. Beyond that nothing interests me.

Movie is a consumer good. It is not my concern what you do with the consumer good after I sell it. It is up to the customer what he does with it.

Why did you not repeat Ilayaraja after Shiva? Why did it take 17 years to work with him again?
I wanted to learn, understand and involve myself in making of music. Ilayaraja’s busy schedule during that time did not permit me to make a film with him and at the same time involve myself in music. That is the reason why I worked with Keeravani and Mani Sharma at that time. Over a period of time, I lost that passion of involving myself in every craft of filmmaking. I believe that Ilayaraja is the greatest composer ever lived. His kind of music will become a welcome change to the type of music in trend today. His interpretation of background score for this film is going to be very different.

Did you have bound script for your films?
My debut film Shiva was the only film which I worked with a complete bound script. To some extend, we had bound script for Sarkar. For Company and Rageela I had half script.

You started your career as full-length director, now you have become a strategic producer who manage filmmaking at macro level?
For Company, I shot all the Hong Kong portion. I made my assistant shoot the scenes in India. These days, the word director is not a big deal unlike old times. The technology has made direction easy. More than a director, it is decision maker who is going to gauge and decide if a film is going to work or not.

Do you prefer to be a decision maker or a director?
A director is the one who uses the medium of camera, actors and sound to create an emotional impact on audience. Decision maker is a guy who probably chooses the director also. A decision maker is the bridge between the product and consumer. The director can’t be the bridge.

You seem to be attempting horror films again and again though you have 100% success rate in mafia films and fairly good success rate among other genres?
If a mother had a good son, a bad son and a mentally handicapped son, she need to give love to all three sons in equal proportions. I think I am the only director who attempted all the genres. You can’t blame me for that. I made spoofs like Anaganaga Oka Roju, I made love stories like Rageela, I made emotional dramas like Sarkar, I made mafia flicks like Satya and Company, I made comedy like money, I made physiological thrillers like Kaun. But I don’t doubt my affinity towards dark films. Most of my films have gangsters, cops and ghosts.

Why do you work with selective people only?
It is not me alone. Karan Johar works with the same team. David Dhawan works with the same team.

But you stick to the people even when they give continuous flops?
That is because of my belief. There are two types. There is a guy who is a star and there is a guy who has potential to be a star. I pick a guy who has a potential to be a star. That is how I make my brand. I don’t stick to time tested formula of casting and formula subject. Urmila’s first five films were flops before she made it big with Rangeela.

You mentioned the name of Karan Johar two times in this interview so far. There is cold war going on between you two guys and Bombay media is writing huge stories about it. How far is it true?
That is all media built-up. Karan Johar does not realize that I am paying a backhanded compliment to him by calling his films horror films because of the super scale of commercial success he deliver. I will go and pay 200 rupees to buy a ticket for KANK (Kabhi Alvita Na Kehna) and to contribute to 200 crores of money its going to collect. Even my mother and sister prefer to watch his films than mine. I said in a interview to Mid Day (Mumbai daily tabloid) that I swear on my mother, sister and Siddi Vinayak that I would not say anything about Karan Johar in the future.

What are your future projects?
Next film is going to be Nishabd. After that I will make the remake of Sholay.

Most of the story lines for your films are influenced by Hollywood flicks?
It is natural as I grew up on those films.

Is Nishabd a remake of Lolita?
It is not. Nobody is listening to me when I say its not a remake of Lolita. Hence I stopped answering that question when media asks me. It is a love story between 60 year old man and 18 year old girl. That is the basic concept. I feel that bodies age, but not the feelings. An old man could get attracted to a young girl. But his sense of responsibility is stopping from acting on it. What if his feelings become more stronger than his rationality.

The same concept came in K Bala Chandar’s Guppedu Manasu?
That film has nothing much to do with the age difference. It is about an affair outside his marriage. Guppedu Manasu is a fantastic film and it influenced me a lot. But this film has nothing to do with it.

Why do you want to remake Sholay?
Sholay is like Ramayana for me. I don’t believe in God, but believe in Sholay. You never get tired of hearing a story that you liked so much. Valmiki narrated Ramayana. MS Rama Rao also narrated his own version of Ramayana. I would like to narrate my own version of Sholay. It is like MS Rama Rao’s Sholay.


Ram Gopal Varma to Jeevi: Let me ask you a question in return? Why did you name your site as I hate that name incidentally. Do you think people who don’t have any other work to do exist in film industry? You did not like my film and I do not like your dotcom name. we are quits! (giggles)!


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