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Manoj and I can't see eye to eye, ever: Ramu

Ram Gopal Varma has decided not to work with Manoj Bajpai ever again after he refused to play Samba in his Sholay.

entertainment Updated: Apr 01, 2007 15:04 IST

The rapport between actor Manoj Bajpai and his erstwhile mentor Ram Gopal Varma allegedly evaporated when the actor wanted to play Veeru - rather than Samba - in the latter's ambitious remake of Sholay.

In Ramesh Sippy's Sholay, Veeru was originally played by Dharmendra and MacMohan essayed the role of ace villain Gabbar Singh's sidekick Samba.

Asked about Manoj's demand for change of character, Varma said: "I wouldn't like to comment on whether Manoj wanted to play Veeru or not. All I'll say is, actors are meant to play characters. I'd never over-cast for any actor's sake."

"Anyway, I wouldn't like to go into the details about our meeting. I feel it was a confidential private interface between two people. Anyone who has leaked out the details has no idea of ethics or principles," Varma told IANS.

"My final word on Manoj - I had decided not to work with him. I gave it a chance, but it didn't work out. Now my decision to not work with him is final. As I've said, Amitabh as Gabbar is the only casting in Sholay that's indispensable. Manoj and I cannot see eye to eye, ever. I wish him all the best."

The day after his meeting with Manoj, Varma signed Sushant Singh for Samba's role.

"When I met Sushant for Samba's role, I suddenly realised how stupid I was to not think of him for the role. We've worked in Satya, Kaun and Jungle but not afterwards. He's immensely talented," the director said.

Varma says he has expanded on the character since it was last seen in Sippy's film.

"When Samba was written, I doubt anyone thought it would acquire such popularity over the years in spite of the role being so small. In my Sholay, Samba has a lot more to do because my Sholay is relocated in Mumbai. Samba will be Gabbar's operative arm in Mumbai."

"I remember there were moments in (the original) Sholay where we got a glimpse of the bonding between Gabbar and Samba. I intend to build on their friendship. There are so many aspects to Sholay that can be examined and expanded on," he added.

Varma goes on to compare Sholay to the Ramayana epic.

"In it's retelling over and over again, the characters have acquired a certain legendary status. I want to give my own interpretation, like Francis Coppola's take on Dracula. He took a blood-sucking vampire and interpreted it in an all-new way.

"However, my challenge is to be as close to the original Sholay as possible while interpreting it in my own way. There was a structural difference between my Sarkar and the original source material, The Godfather. In Sholay, my intention is different," Varma said.

"I want to see how an encounter cop taking revenge for the massacre of his family would react in 2006. There isn't a single thing from Sholay that I want to take away. My Gabbar would be an international gangster keeping track of international terrorism. He will have an opinion on global politics, for example, on what mistakes the US made while attacking Iraq.

"It's like this. The original Sholay has a woman in a ghagra choli (skirt-blouse). I want to change her clothes and make her walk the ramp. They're both equally beautiful," he added.

First Published: Mar 27, 2007 12:05 IST