You made films like Satya (1998), the Sarkar series and Company (2002), which wowed everyone, and then there are films like Ram Gopal Varma Ki Aag (2007) and Daud (1997) that made people wonder what went wrong. How can the same person make such diverse kinds of cinema?
This is a perception among people. There are two reasons for that. One is the rapidity with which I make a film. Ashutosh Gowariker who made Lagaan (2001) is the same man who made Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Sey (2010), but the difference is Ashutosh will have a four-year gap between films. If you are ripping him apart, you will only get a chance to do that again in 2014.
But I come back every four months so there is enough stock for others to use me as a punching bag more often. That, coupled with my attitude, the way I don’t seem to take things seriously, that I am joking and being sarcastic about things, making outrageous comments on my tweets, makes people hate my guts.
Why do you do that? Is it for effect?
That’s me as a person.
But your tweets suggest that you know exactly what you are saying and it seems to be to get comments. Is this deliberate?
Even when I am drunk and I am tweeting, I make intelligent comments. I have never regretted any tweet ever. I do not conform, take life seriously. I go with the flow.
Is that how you make films also? Does that explain why a charmer like Satya was followed by the nondescript Kaun (1999), and the colourful Rangeela (1995) was followed by Daud, which didn’t make a mark?
The aberration between the cinema I make and the way I am as a person has been there since I made my debut film Shiva (1989), which was critically acclaimed. After Shiva, I made Kaun, with a story revolving around just two people in a room because I had fun making it. A viewer who has seen Satya and then sees Kaun will be shocked and wonder why I did that. But by nature, I don’t take success or failure too seriously. That’s the way I have always been.
Do you think that if your attitude were a little different, it would help your films?
I don’t believe the audience cares about who is making the film. Within the 100 things that the viewer does, he will look at what is coming on a particular Friday as a standalone film. If they like the promo, they will watch the film irrespective of whether it’s mine or that of a new director. Only few film people and critics bother about such things. Should I take the ‘be serious, so people will take me seriously’ approach? That doesn’t work either. Contrary to what people think, the film I took most seriously is Aag. The film I did most carelessly was Satya. I didn’t have a script or even a one-line order for Satya whereas every shot of Aag was meticulously designed.
Is Aag the closest film to your heart?
Nothing is close to my heart. The moment I finish the final mixing of the film, I forget about it. It is an idea: when it is complete, I am done with it. With Satya, I threw in a little story that was in my mind and we started shooting and were writing dialogues simultaneously. Because it turned out right, it’s fine. But it’s a dangerous thing to do. To be that erratic for any filmmaker is dangerous.
But you continue to make films, despite so many flops. How do you find financiers?
Believe me or not, my films have never lost money. That’s because I make them at a cost that is workable. So there is no dearth of financiers backing me. For 20 years, I have continued to make every film I wanted to do. Does that answer your question?