Thursday, August 17, 2006


Excerpt from Ram Gopal Varma interview with Anuradha Sengupta in CNNIBN.
Anuradha Sengupta:Dharavi was the first place that you visited when you came to Mumbai, isn’t it?
Ram Gopal Varma: Yes. It looked to me as if there was just no space. The whole thing is under one roof. I was fascinated that so many people can actually live in such a congested place. Science tells you about hygiene and space and I have seen people in trains with kids barely five or six months old, crawling just about four feet away from trains that are running in full speed. These sights defy your imagination completely.
Anuradha Sengupta: Though you have experimented with genres, your specialty remains violent films based on cops and criminals. You have given a genre to Hindi cinema that it can call it’s own. Do you agree?
Ram Gopal Varma: Right from my teens, I have been influenced by this kind of cinema. I was a huge fan of James Hadley Chase, Fredrick Forsyth and Godfather. Godfather has been the most influential book in my life. This is one of the reasons that I chose the subject of cops and criminals for most of my films.
Secondly, I was a kind of toughie in college when I was doing my engineering. I am not saying that I was into gang fights and things like that but I used to have always had this illusion that I was a tough guy.
So I think there I got to know the mindset of people who live by violence. I made my first film Shiva when I had just got out of the college. So the experiences I have had while in college and the real life characters that I came across inspired me to create the same in that film.

Anuradha Sengupta: So does that mean that the central character Shiva which was played by Nagarjuna was actually autobiographical?
Ram Gopal Varma: Not exactly autobiographical but yes, there was a guy I knew who was a lot like that. But the real character had many negative shades, which I cut out to create its reel-character. I edited him. The underworld fascinated me because of the organizational complexity and people being a part of it. My first thought of Satya was a famous person being shot dead. Someone who I was with at that time, a producer, told me about the gentlemen’s recounting details before he was shot dead at around 10 am.
Anuradha Sengupta: Are you referring to the T-Series head, Gulshan Kumar?
Ram Gopal Varma: Yes. I kept thinking in my mind as to what that killer must have been doing before he killed him? Being a filmmaker I was thinking of those inter-cuts.
Did he wake up early that morning? Did he ask his mother to wake him up? Did he have his breakfast before he kill him? Or he had it after he killed him?
These were the questions popping up funnily in my head. Then I realized that you always hear about these killers either when they have killed someone or after they are dead. But what is it that they do in between? I started reading magazines and articles that were based on these criminals. It was interesting to see that the criminals arrested with their faces hidden behind black clothes had really thin arms. They did not even look like the proto-type gangsters that you see in films like Agneepath.

Anuradha Sengupta: Is it the psyche of a guy who commits violence that draws your interests?
Ram Gopal Varma: I definitely am not interested in simple people. I have a child-like fascination towards things larger-than-life. I like power. I have always wanted to be powerful; I like women to be sexy and so on.

Anuradha Sengupta: So you believe in ‘basic instincts’.
Ram Gopal Varma: Yes, you can call them ‘basic instincts’. My hero would essentially be like the one in Sarkar or Shiva. I look at this from an altogether different angle because the characters that I’m dealing with intimidate me.
My intelligence is to suck the audience and their psyche into my films. I want them to feel what the character is going through in the film. For example, in Satya when people call it a realistic film I wonder how do they know its real? They don’t know anything about underworld neither do I. It’s not so much about the realism in the depiction of the underworld. I think they connect to the character’s realism. When Bhikhu Matre comes home and his wife nags him, they connect to that emotion. It is because of the same emotion that when he goes out and kills someone, it seems real.
Anuradha Sengupta: What is your take on crime and the criminal mind? We are standing at the Juhu’s Centaur hotel, the place where one of those bombs went off in 1993. What is your take on these things?
Ram Gopal Varma: Lot of people say that I seem to be empathetic towards criminals. The way I portray their characters in my films, it seems there is so much of life in it.
But the point is to understand a person’s mind and his psyche where it is coming from.
I see everybody from human angle does not mean that I’m empathizing with criminals. Seeing everything in terms of ‘good’ and ‘evil’ is a very superficial way of looking at things.
I am a very non-violent kind of person in real life. I can’t even stand the sight of someone bleeding. I am scared of injections; I hate the very sight of blood. I can’t even see somebody getting slapped.

Anuradha Sengupta: Then please explain how have you gone through all those violence based films that you have made?
Ram Gopal Varma: I guess, because I fear violence so much, I understand it more than anyone else. Even while shooting, in rare times when we have to use blood, I shut my eyes completely.
I can’t see it. But I have also heard that a similar person, Adolf Hitler, the Nazi chief could not stand the very sight of blood.
Anuradha Sengupta: Why are you always taking chances, revisiting old themes and making out-of-league films? Why are you being this ‘dog with a bone’ that you can’t let it go? Ram Gopal Varma: I guess that gives me a high. Like this film Sholay that I have always loved all these years. I have seen it 27 times and I remember every dialogue and every frame in that film.

Anuradha Sengupta: What is the most riveting dialogue from that film?
Ram Gopal Varma: De jitne gali de sakta hai Thakur is perhaps my favourite one. As long as you are in control of the situation and have the guts to bear the consequences of what you are doing, you can do anything. Somewhere that line symbolizes my ideology.
My well wishers are worried because they think that I might not be able to create a remake of Sholay matching up to the same standard of the original film.
While my enemies are tense because they fear that I might create history with its remake. So, I think moré or less everyone is tense about this project.


Anonymous Shankar said...

I infact didnt know what a kind of person is Ram Gopal, but after reading this artical, I got a clear picture of what kind of person he is. I feel, he thinks like any human would, but the difference is, he is capable to picturize it even more better than how we can visualize it. Well, I always admired his movies, even without thinking how Ram would have taken the pain to put things in right way.....

Anywayzz....I rate him as a Gambler, bcos, he puts his well wishers as well as his enemies always onto their toes, just waiting to see whatz the end result.... GAIN or LOSS??.. wink ;)

11:11 PM  

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