You cannot miss the interiors and posters when you step into Ram Gopal Varma’s office; every corner is like the director himself — raw and real.
You cannot miss the interiors and posters when you step into Ram Gopal Varma’s office; every corner is like the director himself — raw and real. As we sit down for a conversation with the man himself, what follows is a no holds barred chat.
RGV first heard of the notorious dacoit Veerappan fifteen years ago while he was shooting in Tamil Nadu. In early 2003, he learned of three villagers attempting to capture the brigand, for a `50 lakh reward placed on him. The director thought of making a movie called Let’s Catch Veerappan, but just as he was getting ready to shoot for the film, Veerappan was killed and the project never took off. “Two years ago, I happened to meet some people who were involved in the killing of Veerappan, and what I got were first hand details. I thought it would be interesting to narrate the story from the point of view of the people who killed him. It’s not really a biopic,” he says, talking about his movie Veerappan.
The prolific director had been conspicuously missing in Bollywood for a couple of years until recently. “I went away for a while because I wanted to rethink the cinema I was making and may be I was becoming fatigued or predictable or working with the same people doing the same things.”
Even while he has been missing from the big screen, RGV is almost never out of the news. Only recently he got into trouble with trolls on Twitter when he made a comment on Zarine Khan. In his tweet, RGV said that he loved that she was “truly large everywhere especially in her heart and lovely mind.”(sic) The director, though, is not bothered about the reactions his double meaning tweets generate. “When I tweet, I never really look at the answers in return, or the media will make some noise about it. For me, Twitter is nothing but an extension of my personality. I can say that in real life too.”
Having said that, RGV is someone who doesn’t run into trouble with people and there are some with whom he shares a great rapport, Amitabh Bachchan being one of them. Quiz him on how he manages to maintain a good relationship despite some of his controversial tweets and he replies with a straight face, “The people who actually look at the negative aspect of the tweet are the ones who don’t have any work. I don’t have time to think what others think about me because I am too busy with my life. Mr Bachchan understood that what I said about him was a clear compliment, he understood the moment he saw it.”
While still on the topic of Big B, RGV talks about working with him, “Aag can be condemned by everyone who saw the film and they have every right to do so, but only Mr Bachchan understands it is not for my lack of hard work or carelessness on the set. Probably he saw me working more seriously on Aag than on Sarkar, so it would be that intention of mine that he will connect, but not so much about the result of the film.”
While he’s known for being outspoken about his thoughts, RGV does not mince words when it comes to criticising his own work. “Department is a film that I really, really hate. Aag technically could have been a bigger flop in every which way because of its association with Sholay, but Department I think I dislike because of various reasons I don’t want to get into,” he says, talking about having disdain for his own body of work.
Asked if he revisits his movies or if he thinks he could have made a movie better, RGV says bluntly, “Very rarely do I go back to my films but when I look back, there are certain films I feel I couldn’t have done better. I felt that about Rangeela and Satya —they are almost perfect. I don’t feel that about Company or Sarkar. Not A Love Story is a flop, but I believe I have done a good job of it.”
Even as the chat winds up, RGV lets us get a glimpse into what his personality really is like. “I am a guy who speaks my mind. I am both liked and disliked for the same reason because I think other people are split personalities, not me. If I say I like to see women as sex objects I think we should take pride in that since that’s how I look at it. What she is as a person, her ability has nothing to do with her gender, but what is additional about a woman is her sexual attractiveness. I say that as a compliment, but people don’t understand that and they look at it like they are demeaning the person.”