Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Interview with Ram Gopal Varma

The Dark Knight

In an exclusive interview to Sandhya Iyer, Ram Gopal Varma speaks about his forthcoming Rann and how he is itching to make an intense love story in his style

Ram Gopal Varma may be busy with his new film Rann at the moment followed by Phook 2 and Raktacharitra, but his restless mind is already onto other things. Prod him a little on the themes he would like to tackle in future and he reveals he's really keen on making a modern-day love story.
The only vibrant musical love story that Varma made was Rangeela a decade ago and the film went on to become a major craze.
How does he look back on the film, now that he's in a mood for a love story? “I tend to dislike most of my films when I revisit them. Within four-five months of their release, I start seeing flaws in them. I feel I could do it so much better now. But Rangeela is one film which I think works on every level. I like that film quite a lot,” he says.

“I strongly want to work on a realistic love story. But not the kind of romances that are made in Bollywood. I really don't know if these are love stories, they look like fairy tales to me. Too picture-perfect. You have good-looking people, shot in soft light, romancing in Switzerland-New Zealand kind of locations, singing songs. It resembles a thali plate to me. The other day I was looking over a beach and I saw a couple sitting together at 11 am. It was hot and they were sweating. These lovers were there probably because didn't have any other place to meet. If I make a love story, it would be on such a couple, ” he says.

He also believes true love can only strike post 40. “Teenagers don't fall in love – I am convinced of that. The idea itself is stupid. At that age, say 16-19, there is only lust and your hormones are at work. Only when that novelty wears off can you fall in love. True love comes with maturity, so post 40 it is more likely” says the filmmaker who is self-confessedly 'unsentimental' and 'unemotional'. “Maybe that is why I can be more objective about human relationships. Like a zoologist examining his animals. I see them from a distance. Which doesn't mean I don't understand them,” he adds.

Varma's detached attitude to relationships extends to his films as well. “I don't understand when people call their films 'my baby' or that 'they stand by their film' and so on. I am not attached to my films. What is a film ultimately? It is an idea and then you make a series of decisions to execute it. The director basically brings together various creative aspects -- music, technology, actors and puts his own stamp of taste and sensibility to it. Once it releases, it is someone else's film,” he says.

Turning to his new film Rann – an exploration into the world of media -- are there are many real-life references he's taken? “When a film is realistic, there are bound to be some references. For example, I based Amitabh Bachchan's character on Prannoy Roy to begin with. For me, there was something incredibly sincere when he started out. I wanted to create the same aura and impact. So to that extent, I have used real-life references, but all the characters are a combination of many people I've seen. It has been mostly used to create a particular impact around a character,” he tells us.

He quickly clarifies that it was not his personal experience with the media that prompted him to make the film. “I haven't spoken about the entertainment media at all. I have only dealt with the political news channels in Delhi. The idea was to show the media's influence, because they ultimately shape the country's opinion.”

From Urmila Matondkar to Antara Mali, the filmmaker has had many a female muse. How come Mr Bachchan has become his new muse now? Varma smiles and heaves a sigh of relief, “Thank God, you said Mr Bachchan. I feel he fits well in my world of larger-than-life characters. I consider him one of the few realistic star-actors we have. Also, Paa has given me new ideas in terms of how much I can push him as an actor. Till now, it was his voice, his seriousness that one captured, but Paa really shocked me. It opens up a whole new dimension to him,” he says about the actor who has worked with him in a number of films.

Varma has had a rather uneasy equation with superstars Aamir Khan and Shah Rukh Khan. Is it thrilling at all for him to work with stars now? “ I will cast someone if they suit the character. I have no fights with anyone. But no, I've never been thrilled to work with any star, apart from Amitabh Bachchan and Sridevi. These are actor for whose films I stood in line for tickets. I was awed by them. The other actors either came along with me, or after me, so I have no feeling of thrill while working with them,” he says candidly.

Finally, what's the news on his production house, Factory. The man who kept coming up with one film a month has drastically cut down on his work. But the director says he's slowly stepping up activities. “There were multiple films happening and all of it could not be handled. I wanted to set things right, bring more discipline into it. But there will be plenty of films starting soon,” he says.

Finally, he signs off with the promise that he will be working on a love story soon. “It's there on my mind,” he says. And we all know Varma doesn't waste too much time when an idea grips him.


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