Amitabh Bachchan in a still from the film Ram Gopal Varma ki Aag. Video: Sholay revisited?
He has got those intense eyes that help him define beyond a filmmaker. Ram Gopal Varma is not just a director who makes films for the sake of box-office success. For him a film is an idea that depicts the 'frame of mind' of a creative artist (filmmaker) at a given time.
The director gets into a chatty mood with Parmita Uniyal on his soon-to-be-released film Ram Gopal Varma Ki Aag and the psyche of Indian audience.
Could you elaborate why did you choose to include your name in the title of the movie - Ram Gopal Varma Ki Aag. I think it's for the first time a filmmaker has done that.
Yes (smiles). But I didn't do that consciously. Initially, I was keen on the title Sholay for my remake, but then there were copyright issues and I had no choice but to change the name to Ram Gopal Varma Ki Aag. It makes sense since it's my interpretation of the original Sholay.
But aren't you apprehensive about the inevitable comparisons that will be made, once the movie releases?
See, I have done my job and it's up to the audience to accept it or not. They would at the most say that the earlier Sholay pulled off and the new version screwed off (laughs).<b1>
(Gets serious) Every person has a different viewpoint. I can't read the mind of every person. People who do not belong to the generation of Sholay's time, say in 12-30 age group, wouldn't have seen Sholay, so there would be no pre-conceived notions about my film.
So, how's your version different from the original one?
The time when Sholay came was the period of formula film. Sholay has all the masala in it - action, comedy, dance etc. The films in the 70's like Yaadon Ki Baraat comprised of all those masala and that worked well with the audience.
As far as my film is concerned, it has extraordinary aesthetics and an altogether different packaging that this generation will relate to. Characters written for my film were entirely different from Sholay.
What do you think today's audience want in a movie?
I don't think all the people want the same thing from a movie. There are different people who come to cinema halls for different things. Some come to watch Hrithik Roshan, some for watching the heroine's waistline and the others for action and comedy.
You seem to be enamoured by a particular theme. You have made Rangeela, Naach, and Daud in song-dance genre and Satya, D, Company, Sarkar in the underworld genre. Do you try to explore various angles of the same theme?
It's not that. If I have made song-dance and underworld films, I have also delved into psycho-thrillers like Kaun and horror flicks like Bhoot and Darna Mana Hai. I think I am the only director who has explored every genre.
I want to make films on simple problems of people, anything that depicts behind-the-scene psyche of people.<b2>
You are also credited with giving Amitabh Bachchan a few unconventional characters to portray that is not his usual forte. Wasn't it a little risky for his image to do Nishabd. And do you think people would be fine with his negative character in Ram gopal Varma ki Aag as Babban?
See, I don't think Gabbar from Sholay was a negative character. He was a villain who did a heinous act of killing people. People come to watch movies for entertainment and not to tag anybody as negative and positive. It's just a character.
Do you regret remaking your hit movie Shiva with the same name that turned out to be a disaster at the box-office? Why did you feel the need to remake it when it was successful the first time?
I remake my own film when I feel that something was missed in that movie. I had a particular frame of mind when I made Shiva previously and when I remade it, the frame of mind had changed.
Since you are a popular face among audience, would you like to give acting a take?
No, never. I am too nervous to face camera. I am perfectly okay behind it.
There were reports in the media that Abhishek Bachchan was roped in along with Urmila Matondkar in Mehbooba number, but he was later chucked out?
Abhishek is still there in the song.
Do link-up rumours perturb you?
No, it has become a routine affair now. I am used to being linked with my actresses.
Don't you think it's because you repeat your actresses too often?
I repeat my actors too. Amitabh Bachchan worked with me for Sarkar, Nishabd, Aag. Aishwarya Rai is also working with me in Sarkar 2.