I’d like to make ‘Sholay’ again: Ram Gopal Varma

February 20th, 2008 - 8:39 am ICT by admin  

(Interview
By Subhash K. Jha
Mumbai, Feb 20 (IANS) Ram Gopal Varma is a changed person. No longer willing to make films at the drop of a hit. No more the dial-a-quote wizard, this maverick moviemaker has mellowed but says he may remake “Sholay” again notwithstanding the “Ram Gopal Varma Ki Aag” fiasco. “Yes, I agree ‘Aag’ was a special flop. The reason I didn’t speak is because there was nothing to say. I went into a phase of introspection. I now feel I was making films lately with a certain frivolous even callous attitude,” Varma told IANS in an interview.

“I was also making press statements for effect, for shock value. I decided to keep quiet for a while. High time I stopped talking stupidly,” he added.

Asked what lesson he has learnt from “Aag”, Varma said: “That I need to get it right. Ramesh Sippy was right. I was foolish to attempt ‘Sholay’ the way I did. At some point of time when I’m ready, I want to do it again. This time I won’t make the same mistakes.”

Excerpts:

Q: Where have you been hiding?

A: I was shooting my new film “Contract” in Mumbai and Bangkok, besides shooting the balance and post-production of “Sarkar Raj”, which releases in May.

Q: People believed you had gone into hiding after “Aag”?

A: Why would I hide? I’ve made flops before. Yes, I agree “Aag” was a special flop. The reason I didn’t speak is because there was nothing to say. I went into a phase of introspection. I now feel I was making films lately with a certain frivolous, even callous, attitude. I was also making press statements for effect, for shock value. I decided to keep quiet for a while. High time I stopped talking stupidly.

Q: Has “Aag” changed you?

A: Yes, but I don’t blame anyone else for going wrong in “Aag”. Amitabh Bachchan trusted me completely in “Aag”. But I feel my intention was wrong. “Aag” was a three-year-old dream. Many changes happened. I was told by lawyers to change the story because my “Sholay” had to be different from the original. I lost my way along the way. “Aag” ended up as a caricature of “Sholay”.

Q: You admit that?

A: When people around you keep saying it’s turning out well, you tend to get carried away. “Aag” was a special flop for me. Just as “Sholay” was benchmark, “Aag” was a landmark for me. It was not even a wake-up call. It was a slap.

Q: You sound different!

A: Nobody realises mistakes until he gets a solid slap. “Aag” was that slap. Making a success isn’t in my hands. But making sure that I make films with objectivity is something I can do, and I will.

Q: Is that the spirit in which “Contract” is being made?

A: Yes, I made a conscious decision to make it with newcomers. There’re 40 characters in this underworld film, all played by unknown faces. When I took Manoj Bajpai in “Satya” or Viveik Oberoi in “Company”, I wasn’t launching stars. I used them because they were right for the roles. But when the media and my associates started praising me, it went to my head.

I began seeing myself as a star-maker. I went into the trip of launching new actors. When I signed Mohit Ahlawat and Prashant Raj I presumed they were stars before the film was made. I was getting more and more sucked into a fantasyland. Doing multiple films at such a fast pace in this state of mind was a potent and lethal blend, hence the sabbatical. Now I’m far more clear-headed.

Q: Your financial position is supposed to be so bad you had to apparently sell your car?

A: How do I answer that without sounding stupid? For the last 15 years people have been worried about my finances - so sweet of them. Let me assure them I’m still moving around in the same car. I haven’t sold it. People write anything they want. I’m making films the way I want to.

Q: You’ve supposedly gone from riches to rags.

A: I was never rich in the first place. My finances are nobody’s business. Other people’s distress always makes us happy. If they’re having fun at the expense of my finances, let them.

Q: Do you feel isolated?

A: I was always a lonely person. Yes, earlier there were more people around me. That’s because I had many productions on the floors. Right now I’m doing only one film. Nothing will change in terms of the content. I’ll still make highly experimental films.

Q: Will you still give chances to every spot boy who wants to direct a film?

A: I didn’t give chances. I took chances. But I won’t sign anyone on a whim. No point in making films nobody’s going to see. I’ve changed in my attitude. Today, I wonder if I’d make “Daud” after “Satya”. Today, I know why I’m directing “Contract”. In 1997 when I made “Satya”, there were 108 underworld shootouts in Mumbai. Today there are far less. The profile of the underworld has changed. And I want to explore that change. The new developments in the underworld have given birth to new characters. And I’ve used new faces because these faces reflect the new order.

Q: Lastly, what is the one lesson that you have learnt from the “Aag” fiasco?

A: That I need to get it right. Ramesh Sippy was right. I was foolish to attempt “Sholay” the way I did. At some point of time when I’m ready, I want to do it again. This time I won’t make the same mistakes.

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