It wouldn’t be wrong to say that Ram Gopal Varma gave gangster films a new lease of life in Bollywood. Whether it was the character of Bhiku Mhatre in Satya (1998), Subhash Nagre in Sarkar (2006), or Chandu in Company (2002) — the eccentric film-maker has a knack for creating memorable characters in the grittiest films. This drama often finds its way into Varma’s off-screen life too; this reflects in his posts, or controversies, on social media and even in his work space in Andheri (W). But the film-maker is rarely perturbed. He wasn’t bothered when critics wrote him off a few years ago, and he certainly isn’t bothered now, about what people might think of him and his acidic remarks.
“I am being buried for many years now. The media has proliferated so much that, today, everything gets amplified. But the basic sentiment of me being dead or finished or gone has been around for many years. Bi****ing only gets creative with time, and why shouldn’t it? Otherwise, we will all die of boredom,” says Varma.
In 2013, after the release of Satya 2, Varma took a break from B-Town, but continued making films in several south Indian film industries. “I didn’t want to do Hindi films for some time, as I wanted to give another look at the kinds of films I was making. I am very impulsive by nature. That’s why I make my films very fast. But people feel I make too many films, and I make them too fast, so I make flops. Nonetheless, I would like to believe that I know what the cause of my failure is. I spent the most amount of money and time on Ram Gopal Varma Ki Aag (2007) and Department (2012), and both the films are the biggest flops of my career. So, I know that failure comes when you choose the wrong material, and any director is as good as the material he handles,” he says.
The 54-year-old admits that his “arrogance” was also responsible for his failure. “I just wanted to stop, zoom out, and check what’s happening before I came back [to Bollywood]. In the past two years, I have readied six scripts that can go into production any day. So, I have come back with gun, grenades and revolvers in my pocket to attack (laughs),” he says.
Varma insists that he has “become even wilder” now. “I am like a wild horse. Having said that, I have tried to add some method to my madness, which will hopefully produce a result,” says the film-maker, adding that “intensity attracts” him. “I don’t like family dramas or rom-coms. I never saw Rangeela (1995) as a rom-com. It could be light-hearted due to the music, humour and basic emotions, but it had a lot of intensity. I especially don’t like sex comedies, because I take sex very seriously. I am most attracted to larger-than-life characters,” he says.
What has the director excited currently is his new film, Veerappan, which is based on the life and killing of one of India’s most notorious bandits. “Right from my debut film, Shiva (1991), I was always interested in the dark side of people. Veerappan always fascinated me. I first heard about him in 1995 or 1996 when a reward was announced to capture him,” he says. At that time, Varma had planned to produce a film called Let’s Catch Veerappan, with Shimit Amin as the director. “It was about three guys wanting to help the police [catch Veerappan] for the reward money. But the day we started shooting, Veerappan was killed, so I junked the idea. Then, a few years back, I met some men who were part of Operation Cocoon, which was responsible for killing Veerappan. That intelligence operation caught my attention, since no one knows what happened behind the scenes of Veerappan’s killing,” he says.
Ask him what draws him to the lives of offenders and lawbreakers, and he says, “I think people will be much more interested in the story of a man who killed many people than in the story of Mother Theresa who helped many people. People have an inherent curiosity about people who live violent lives. People are attracted to anything that is highly dramatic.”
Watch: Trailer of RGV’s Veerappan
Is that why on the other hand, talking about his outspoken nature, Varma says he has never understood “the meaning of being politically incorrect”. “I will say what I feel is correct. If someone gets offended by my tweets, they he or she can unfollow me. And outsiders, be it the media or anyone else, have no business peeking into my Twitter handle. Also, saying politically correct things like, ‘Hello, how are you?’ or ‘You are a very nice guy’ is really boring,” he says.
In fact, at a time when Bollywood is increasingly being perceived as a friendly space, Varma unabashedly calls himself an “unfriendly person”. “The problem with friends is that you help them once, and they will come back again for help. I will never go to someone for help. It doesn’t make sense both ways. Also, I don’t give anyone that much importance [in my life],” he says.
On his expletives-laden tweet for Big B
When I said something about him, everyone went berserk. They didn’t understand that it was a compliment. He, who should have been most offended, understood. It proves that people are not seeing the point I was trying to make.
On his comment on Rajinikanth
We always thought a superstar is tall, good-looking, and has a six-pack. He is none of that, and is still a superstar. He defies that entire definition. What’s wrong with that? It’s the highest compliment he can get. His fans thought I was being offensive, but that’s their dumbness; I am being smart.
On Anurag Kashyap
I really like Gangs Of Wasseypur 1 (2012), but I am not a fan of his kind of films. I haven’t seen many of his films. So, I don’t know how to describe them. I like him as a person and a dialogue writer. There’s something uniquely independent about his thinking and writing, which I might not connect with, but he is original. If he has made disparaging comments about me, it’s fine.
On Karan Johar
I used to think that Karan makes false films, but after attending Abhishek’s (Bachchan) wedding, I realised that his films are more real than my films, like Satya, because I never attend wedding ceremonies. Everyone has their own sensibilities. I have always complimented him. When I said his films are like horror films, I said it looking at the scale of his success. Any dumb person will know it’s a compliment. So, I respect the way he has built himself or his films, but I will never be able to watch them, as they aren’t my kind of movies.
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