Ram Gopal Verma

From Sanyukta, Seasons Correspondent.

In a ten- year- old career, he's made movies which make you marvel. 'Rangeela', 'Daud', 'Satya', 'Mast', 'Shool', 'Jungle' and now 'Pyaar tune kya kiya'! His motto in life being, eat movies, sleep movies, make movies. In an exclusive interview with SeasonsIndia correspondent Sanyukta, Ram Gopal Verma talks about his movies, masti, and magic!

'Rangeela' 'Satya', 'Kaun', 'Mast', 'Shool', 'Jungle' and now 'Pyar tune kya kiya'; you have been churning out so many quality movies so fast. What's the secret? Where do you get your motivational energy and inspiration from?

"As far as speed is concerned I feel this is basically exaggerated. I think I take as much time as anyone else the world over. There are just a few filmmakers in Mumbai who take a long time. Even big budget movies in Hollywood, take eight weeks in principal shooting. Adding songs to our films would take another twenty days. I think a seventy-eighty day shoot is a very comfortable time period we're talking about. As far as subjects are concerned I think I'm a voracious reader somewhere, I keep meeting people, and anything that excites me at a point of time. If I feel its got material enough to make a film on it, I might set up a couple of writers on it. They will be working simultaneously on it while I do a film. So when it reaches a certain stage I decide whether I want to do the film or not. Also, apart from films I don't do anything else. I don't have any other life. So I guess it's okay."

You tried your hand at comedy with 'Daud'. Why do you think it flopped?
"It was a very big flop. People didn't like it. The story should have had a kind of linear-progression, which I feel I completely missed out on. I was trying to be clever in the film. I was just trying to impress. Whether it's a comedy, an action film, a romance, it needs to have a central emotional hook at the end, to make the movie move forward, which didn't happen. 'Daud' lacked it completely."

As a horror film, 'Raat' was very unlike the run-of-the-mill Ramsay stuff. Do you think it was too sophisticated for the Indian audience, which is why it didn't run?

''Raat' was a very stupid film, very indulgent. I did it during one of my stupid state of mind. I'm embarrassed about it actually. I was watching it recently and couldn't believe I made a movie like that."

You come across as a modern filmmaker with a yen for making slick movies. Why haven't you experimented with family dramas, considering they do so well?

"It's not that I'm against family dramas, but there should be something in the subject that excites me, attracts my attention. There has to be some factor that excites me. Not just telling a simple story. There has to be some extra bit that attracts my attention, I could put my family drama in it, but not simply a family drama. Normal things between people revolt me. Husband and wife fighting, I just can't do it; they wasting their time on simple family matters."

As one of the producers, what was your reaction to the failure of 'Dil Se'. Where do you think it went wrong?

"For the same reason as 'Daud'. People didn't like it. It's a big myth that the director knows what people like. He's probably the last guy to know. You're trying to make a film over a period of one or two years or whatever. To sustain the emotional concentration for over two years, which eventually the audience is going to see in three hours, is not a joke. It's like your child. You think your child is good-looking, whereas the others may find fault with its eyes or the nose. You keep standardizing the movie to something which is on your mind; which might not reach out to the audience at the end of the day. I think it's a question of time alone."

Every creative maker has an 'inspiration', a muse. Do you?

"I don't think so. Not really."

In your capacity as co-producer of 'Shool' you have cast Raveena and not your favourite Urmila. Reason?

"For that particular role in 'Shool', I thought Raveena would be more suitable for the role so I took her."

People say that Sanjay Dutt was a trifle upset with you for that wishy-washy role in 'Daud'. Have things been sorted out?

"I don't think there ever was a break-up for us to patch-up. That is all the stuff created by the media."

Post 'Rangeela', you seem to be doing extremely well on your own; whereas Aamir is doing fabulously well on his own. Isn't it high time the two of you bury your differences and get-together to give us another great film?
"Aamir, I believe, has gone on to say that he doesn't want to work with me. So I don't think there is anyway going to be another film with the two of us together. And since the film itself is not about to be made, where does the question of a good film come from? He doesn't like me."

For your next project starring Shah Rukh, there is talk that instead of of Urmila you might cast Aishwarya Rai or Kareena Kapoor. How much truth is there in all this talk?
"I don't think people understand film making. These things never happen anywhere. The hero wanting someone else, the director asking for someone else and all the industry and the press wanting someone else. I think Shah Rukh and I have reached a position where those kinds of things don't make a difference to us at all."

What's your secret for transforming all your heroines into sex symbols? First Urmila in 'Rangeela' and Raveena in 'Shool'?

"'Shool' has been directed by my assistant. I was not a part of the picture at all in terms of shooting. So this question should be asked to my assistant."

Post 'Satya' we keep hearing about Manoj (Bhiku Mhatre) Bajpai. Whatever happened to the hero Chakravarthy?
"I don't think anybody makes films with the intention of trying to promote somebody. I just take whoever I think is right for the film. I'm not in the industry to make films specifically with Manoj Bajpai or anyone else. If he's good for a certain film I take him."

Is your faith in your 'Jungle' & 'Pyar tune kya kiya' hero, Fardeen Khan, justified? Considering he's got a lot of negative publicity of his arrest with a drug peddlar?
"That's for the public to say. It was only because I thought he was really good in 'Jungle' that I took him again. I would have shelved the film halfway through if I realized he was not working out.Regarding his arrest, I would not like to comment on his private life. His private life is his own personal business."

Subhash Ghai has started a new, corporate trend by having 'Taal' insured. Are you also planning to go the same route by insuring your films in the future?

"I'm not really very aware of the process. And I haven't really given it a thought. But since people are talking about it, let's see."

What do you think about Corporate sponsorships for your movie promos? Something like what the Barjatyas have done with 'Hum Saath Saath Hain'?
"Not really. Look, I'm completely ignorant and unaware about such things. My office looks after the marketing part of the film. I make the movie and give it to them and then completely forget about it. If the film runs they give me money to make the next film."

With most producers opting for Hyderabad and even overseas, do you think Mumbai has lost its status as the film making capital of India?
"I don't think so. I think they shoot outside more to have a good time. Also, shooting in Hyderabad would probably cost less than shooting in Mumbai. And with shooting in Mumbai there are timing constraints. There are too many things to distract you. The other producers, the traffic, the distances. In places like Hyderabad and also abroad, the working hours are increased. That could be one incentive."

Who is the director you admire most?

"Shekhar Kapoor."

Mani Ratnam, Shekhar Kapoor and you came together as producers for 'Dil Se'. Can we hope to see any such more ventures in the future?
"We had dissolved the company during the making of 'Dil Se' itself. We had only formed it so as to see our three names together. There are no immediate plans of us getting back in the future."

Watch Ram Gopal Varma's interview through


Footage courtesy

Amisha  Patel
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