He is always in the middle of controversies, but instead of killing them, Ram Gopal Varma says he is at peace when people call him an "attention seeker". True to his style, the publicity stunt for his latest film Agyaat saw around 15 dummies of dead bodies suspended from the movie's posters.
"People ask me - 'Are you an attention seeker?' Yes, I am an attention seeker. Why should I speak when I don't want attention. Whatever I say or do, I would want a response from the audience. Just like if someone would slap me or smile at me, he would expect a response - I also do things for a response," Varma told IANS.
He was in Delhi for the promotion of Agyaat, which released Friday.
The director, who has faced the ire of the censor board on more than one occasion, got into trouble for a scene in Agyaat where actress Priyanka Kothari was filmed smoking 'chillum' (pipe). He agreed to let the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) cut that part but feels it's not a solution.
"I personally don't believe in censorship. In today's times, there is so much of information available everywhere. Almost every other person has access to the internet. So, to stop a filmmaker from showing anything on screen believing it would corrupt people is outdated thinking (that the censor board carries)," he said.
He had also faced flak from the censor board earlier for tampering with the lyrics of the national anthem for his media-based movie "Rann".
Being in the midst of controversies seems to have become a way of life with Varma and he is okay with that.
"Anything you strongly say or do, people will either love you or hate you for it. Controversy by definition is nothing but a result of out of the box ideas. There are bound to be differences of opinion over anything new... and when people have views on an issue, it creates a discussion, which becomes a controversy," he said in a nonchalant tone.
With Agyaat, the filmmaker is set to experiment with a genre he has never done before, Varma said.
"Agyaat is an adventure thriller'. It is about an unknown creature killing people in a jungle. That's why it is called Agyaat. It's a genre I have not done before and to my knowledge, it has never been done in Bollywood. It may be a slightly scary, but doesn't fall under the category of a Phoonk or Bhoot," he said.
To keep the thrill, suspense and spook alive in Agyaat, Varma has used several sound effects instead of using heavy make-up and unique costumes for his invisible scary character in the movie.
"Fear can have many manifestations. It's not necessary that you can create it only through ghosts. You can hear a voice and build a lot of fiction around it. That is what I want the audience to respond to - the sounds. Often, in such situations, the mind becomes a monster and that is something that can really scare you.
"Otherwise, what happens to stringent inter-personal relationships in the face of death in a jungle is what forms the climax of the movie," he said.
Agyaat is a story based in a jungle where a film crew goes for shooting and gradually each one starts getting killed under mysterious circumstances.
It features actors like Gautam Rode, Priyanka Kothari and Nitin Reddy.
(Radhika Bhirani can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)