Porn star Tori Black did more for my life than Mother Teresa: RGV | bollywood | Hindustan Times
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Porn star Tori Black did more for my life than Mother Teresa: RGV

On the eve of the launch of his memoir Guns & Thighs, filmmaker Ram Gopal Varma talks about reckless tweeting, watching porn, his belief that women are about creating sexual desire while men are about power, and his disdain for political correctness.

bollywood Updated: Nov 30, 2015 10:01 IST
Manjula Narayan
Ram Gopal Varma
There are a lot of people who dislike me and a lot who like me but I wouldn’t be knowing the number, says filmmaker Ram Gopal Varma. (Virendra Singh Gosain / Hindustan Times)

On the eve of the launch of his memoir Guns & Thighs, Ram Gopal Varma talks about reckless tweeting, watching porn, his belief that women are about creating sexual desire while men are about power, and his disdain for political correctness.

You’ve said some controversial things in the book — like how beautiful women like Katrina and Deepika shouldn’t be used as ambassadors for ‘ugly’ diseases. I’m sure a lot of people will be enraged by the statement.

The editor (of the book) asked me to cut those parts, to not use such harsh descriptions but I was very insistent. I said, “That’s me, that’s actually what I feel about women and what they do to beautiful women.” I insisted it should be kept in. I find it very funny that you should feel sad about a certain disease and then you see the most beautiful woman, and make her almost feel guilty that she has much more than what others have. I find it very ironic that you need beauty to attract attention to even that.

The cover of filmmaker Ram Gopal Varma’s autobiography, Guns & Thighs.

Your lack of political correctness comes out in the book and in your tweets.

Political correctness is a cliche. Everybody knows things are being said just for effect and that no one means anything and that nothing will come out of it. The whole point of you saying something is that it has to come from a strength of feeling and it has to make a point. What is the point of making a noise? With Twitter, there’s an instrument in your hand and you say something and it’s out there!

Like what you said about Amitabh Bachchan. Were you actually high when you tweeted that?

I wasn’t really high. I just said that. Most of the time I take me being high as an excuse! I put that up at around 12 in the night and Mr Bachchan sent me the first message in the morning and he said, ‘Sarkar’ — both of us call each other ‘sarkar’ — ‘just get ready for the sky to fall down. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!’

I thought the compliment was obvious in the tweet but most people didn’t and all the Hindi channels went berserk. I guess the media also wants the drama.

The Aamir thing that’s happening right now… If you listen to the whole thing, it’s nothing; but the moment you take those two lines out of context…

So when you tweeted about Aamir Khan, you hadn’t seen the whole video?

I reacted to those two lines. Later I went back and saw the whole video and I was quite surprised.

Does the compulsion to speak your mind make you unpopular in Bollywood?

There are a lot of people who dislike me and a lot who like me but I wouldn’t be knowing the number.

Read: RGV in Guns & Thighs: Why the outrage when I visited Taj on 26/11?

Read: Aamir Khan and intolerance: How Bollywood turned against its own

The chapter on Sridevi is very funny, especially the Boney Kapoor angle.

Like I mentioned in the book, Sridevi went through a lot of trauma with her father’s death, mom’s illness and lots of that stuff. I also know that she has always been acting since the age of three; she never went to school; her world exposure is almost zero. I’ve done two films with her so I’m kind of acclimatised to her. For me, in addition to what I feel about her at a personal level, coupled with this knowledge, she always looked like a damsel in distress, that little girl lost in the woods. I’ve never seen stardom like Sridevi’s — the visual effect of the thing. So, then to see her in a ghar ka kitchen making coffee was a huge letdown. I used to stand in line to buy a ticket for her films with the police beating me with lathis and I used to look at this 50 ft hoarding of her in Vijayawada… From there to see her in a kitchen like a maid!

But its inevitable if a woman has to …

I know! I said I want to live in my dream world and Boney Kapoor shattered that dream!

What’s his reaction to this?

A version of this (chapter in the book) appeared on her birthday a couple of years back in Mumbai Mirror just after the release of English-Vinglish. She was damn thrilled and showed it to Boney. He called me and said, “I can see you wrote it from the heart”. The point is she’s an actress and she’s been a sex symbol. The justification I gave for the title ‘Guns and Thighs’ — she comes there too. How can you take away what she was, and also the fact that millions of men desired her… and Boney got her!

This title Guns and Thighs and what it brings out — your idea of men as very ‘masculine’ and women as very ‘feminine’. A lot of people will think, ‘Oh that’s so old Bollywood, so stereotypical.’

I’m from Andhra and someone once asked me, “What attracted you to cinema in your growing years. He expected some intellectual answer where I talked about Eisenstein, Potemkin… and I said it was Amitabh Bachchan holding a gun in Deewar and Sridevi’s thighs in Himmatwala. Going further back, I remember Zeenat Aman’s thighs. I think the images that come to me immediately are thighs and action. If I try to intellectualise, I’ll feel like a big fake. That’s not why I came into films. Rupa Publications suggested titles that would put you to sleep! Like Celluloid dreams, Satyakatha!

OK, Guns and Thighs works better than Satyakatha.

The editor also said ‘Please delete those parts about cancer and beautiful women; people will find them offensive.’ I said that’s the point, I want them to be offensive.

Your idea of ‘woman’ is very male.

I don’t know if it’s the male idea of a woman. At the level of instinct, I used to look up to bullies in the classroom. Then, I graduated to street goondas and then gangsters. I can’t stand normal people. Normal families bore me. All these good people, who pay good taxes and raise their children and get them married and one day they die… I cannot connect to those kind of people.

But, you know, everybody dies.

I know! The question is how you are living while you are alive. I have a tendency to look up to power; to look up to a person who is exciting, who is willing to take on the world, not caring about what the world will do or say to him, or who is not scared to be judged. On the basis of primary instinct, a woman is about creating sexual desire, a man is about power. I am heavily into the Friedrich Nietzsche kind of philosophy — it comes from there. I just psych myself from the time I get up in the morning till I sleep at night; I want to fill my life with wonderful things, out of which beautiful women are one part. Then, I’ll go and study ISIS and look at what America is doing. I like to study all the wars and then the beauty industry. In between, if I get a little time, I make a film also!

“I can’t stand normal people; Normal families bore me; All these good people, who pay good taxes and raise their children and get them married and one day they die… I cannot connect to those kind of people.” (Virendra Singh Gosain / Hindustan Times)

So it’s these two extremes.

They are not extremes. I don’t mean to say women cannot be powerful. That’s an extra.

As in beauty is power…

Correct. See, for me, at the end of the day, it’s not gender-related. But what a woman has in particular is her beauty.

I can see that as a blurb that wouldn’t make you very popular with a lot of women. So when you work on the women in your films, is it with this idea?

Not necessarily all the time. I’m expressing my ideas in the book. In a movie, there’s a character in a particular situation who’s designed to create an effect for the story. So the women in my film might not represent the women I look up to because there they are serving a different purpose. For example, Urmila in Rangeela and Urmila in Satya are vastly different. Someone like the Urmila in Satya, I would never even have a conversation with. Simple sweet nice people bore me.

Who are the women you look up to in the real world?

In my book’s dedication, I included porn star Tori Black. I get very affected by anyone who expresses her strength or belief in such a strong way. I saw an interview of hers where she spoke about her decision to go into the porn industry. I’ve never seen so much purity, strength and clarity in thought. It is very difficult to do that considering the taboo and the way those who work in the porn industry are looked down upon. So to say it with so much pride and strength of character… I would watch Tori Black’s interviews, maybe not so much the porn… because I have other porn stars who are favourites! I am enamoured with her, just her interviews. I’m probably the only guy who admits publicly that I watch porn.

If you look at the dedication, there’s Mad Magazine, Ayn Rand, Urmila Matondkar, Bruce Lee, Amitabh Bachchan, Tori Black, and then there’s gangsters. Initially, I wrote Dawood Ibrahim.

Why did you take it out?

These guys at Rupa Publications said, ‘He’s a criminal and how can you talk about him like that… It’ll create a controversy for us.’

But you’ve made so many gangster films.

I know, but I don’t own Rupa Publications! If it’s my films, I’d have said I don’t care. If Dawood Ibrahim hadn’t existed, I wouldn’t have made Satya or Company, so I can’t take away the contribution he made to my life. All of them (those in the book’s dedication), one way or the other, they did something in my life. I don’t know Mother Theresa and what she did because I’m not into charity or welfare work. Tori Black contributed more to my life than Mother Theresa.

All those — like Anurag Kashyap and others — who got a break with you, does your relationship with them continue after they become extremely successful?

I don’t meet anybody. I’ve never met people except for when I’m working with them in the course of a particular film. I do not have a relationship with anybody.

“I don’t meet anybody. I’ve never met people except for when I’m working with them in the course of a particular film. I do not have a relationship with anybody.” (Virendra Singh Gosain / Hindustan Times)

You don’t socialise with them?

No, I never go to parties; I never go to any film functions or events. I might exchange messages in some context but I don’t maintain relationships at all with anybody. I don’t have friends. I don’t have a single friend

You mean you don’t have friends within the film industry?

No, I don’t have friends at all. What’s the need for friends?

Maybe you have a very close knit family?

No, I am absolutely not a family man.

You’re saying you are an absolute loner.

Yeah. Once I got divorced, for nearly five years, I didn’t see my daughter. The first thing I told her when I met her was ‘Whatever you might have heard of me, I’m actually worse’. Now, she’s around 20. I told her this when she was 14 or 15. ‘I said I’m an extremely self-centred bastard. Except for myself I don’t think about anybody. You’re my daughter and I’ll do anything for you on the level of money or contacts but I will not come to see you if you’re not well because I don’t like to see ill people. If you’re not studying, I don’t care because I was a bad student. So I am not going to do anything which is so-called normal. And I hate to be called ‘father’ because that makes me feel old. So if you want to have a relationship, you have to call me Ramu.’ This is the first conversation I had with her after five years. Now, she takes me for some species of an animal. Because of this, we are probably buddies, for want of a better word.

You’ve worked with all the actors you’ve wanted to work with; now does that make you bored?

No. I’ve just finished making Killing Veerappan. Veerappan, for me, is bigger than any star. To find an actor who can portray Veerappan, then groom him, then for me and him to exchange ideas on how to bring Veerappan to life — that process excites me a lot. So the actor playing Veerappan and Veerappan the character… For me, the combination of that is the biggest star as of now, because I’m doing that film.

Another tough guy. You’ve moved from the underworld to sandalwood.

Yeah!