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  1. #1
    Retired Staff
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    Dec 2008

    Default My house is not a harem: RGV

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    RGVís Agyaat has been panned by critics. Itís Mumbai Mirror review was headlined ĖRam Gopal Varma, RIP (In which our film critic breaks the barrier and refuses to rate)

    However, RGV remains undaunted, and as interesting as ever. His controversial Rann, with a song based on the National Anthem, is coming up, but more than his films, itís the man Ė outspoken, witty, and unconcerned with good, bad, ugly reviews-who remains entertaining. Excerpts from a chat ...

    What was the idea behind the Agyaat hoardings (a dead manís dummy hung on trees with the posters of the film)? It scared people ...
    The effect was intended. What is the whole campaign of a film about? The theatrical trailer, giving interviews, etc Ė the purpose is to garner attention for the film. So we use every trick in the book, especially when thereís so much happening in the world and so many movies being made. Since the movie is about death and horror, we decided to hang these dead bodies on the hoardings. Thereíll be opinions on it. They say people are taking it seriously, but are they? My jobís to create an effect, make people feel itís real when its not.

    Rann, Agyaat ... your movies seem to get into trouble first and come to theatres later. Are you using controversy as a marketing tool?
    Controversy is when you do something really out of the box, unconventional, something thatís new, not heard of before, not run-of-the-mill. There are bound to be differences. The fact is that I constantly do something out of the box Ė or attempt to do it Ė and I make films so fast, that thereíll obviously be that many more controversies. Am I doing this for publicity? Obviously, everything I do is for publicity for the film Iím making.

    But with the Rann anthem and the dummies, it must have been clear to you quite early on, that the reaction would have some degree of outrage in it ...
    Outrage in whose mind? Eighty seven per cent of the people on the Rann website have loved the anthem. We checked the legal aspect Ė itís not illegal. Itís a technical point, theyíre asking whether the anthem can be changed or not, and on the advice of certain leaders, I did that. Iím taking up a subject based on the media. The media keep exposing things, thatís what their job is. I want to expose the media. That itself as a thought is a controversial point. As a creative artiste, Iím expressing my opinion in a certain way, and Iím proud of it, Iím not defending myself. I have done it for publicity, and in a positive spirit. In a free country, you have the right to express your opinion, whatever it is, and as a filmmaker, Iím using my talent to get it across in the most effective way.

    What you do and say is more interesting than your films...
    I really donít know if thatís my controversy. It depends on how someone else reacts. If this is working Ė my intention has worked. But my intention is so many things, of which only 10 per cent works. If all my intentions actually worked, Iíd probably be banished from the country!Which ones? Iím kidding!

    Do you feel youíve become a bigger brand than your films?
    I donít know. Over a period of time, you build your body of work, and the other thing is how you come across as a person. I donít know if theyíre comparable. I meet a lot of people who recognise me immediately. But they donít seem to have seen many of my films. Iíll meet someone who saw Satya 10 years ago and none after that, but his memory of me is based on that one film. I think this is understandable. For instance, I was a very big fan of Steven Spielberg. I used to watch his films many times over. These days I donít watch his films as often, but as a person, I hold him in the same esteem. That doesnít mean I donít like his films anymore. Maybe, as a filmmaker, Iíve moved on. Like I know Mr Narendra Modi, but I donít know which party he belongs to, or his politics, because Iím not into politics at all. So itís possible that a person becomes a personality, and itís possible that he and his work are independently evaluated.
    The statements you make off-screen are more memorable than your work...

    Fine, Iím not denying that. A film is finally a conversation. Possibly, that one line in an interview can be more power-packed, and that impact could be there in a more diluted form in a film. There are various other things in a film Ė performances, story, etc Ė which might not have the same concentrated impact that my personality does. But I still think theyíre not comparable. Theyíre two separate entities altogether. If I were a politician or a journalist, Iíd probably have had the same impact, on an individual level.

    Have people ever come to you and said, ĎWhat a horrible film youíve made, Ram Gopal Varmaí?
    Yes, yes, quite a lot of people do. Strangely, most people donít mention my flops. And I used to wonder why, till I realised Ė they havenít seen them. Theyíre not interested in watching them. So they donít mention the flops Ė ícoz they never come into their mindspace. So thatís why they talk only about a film of mine that impressed them, rather than the flops.

    So what have your audienceís reactions been like, when you meet them?
    Let me explain something first. Take, letís say, Dhoom 2. It collected Rs 20 crore in Maharashtra. So at an average ticket price of Rs 100 per ticket, 20 lakh people watched the film. A film like Dhoom 2 has a repeat audience, so letís say 10 lakh people watched it. Out of the 6 crore population of Maharashtra, 10 lakh people can make a film a hit. What are the remaining 5 crore 90 lakh people doing? Thatís the vastness of this country. Iíve realised itís impossible for me to think of the word Ďaudienceí, conveniently turning it into an animal Ė as if I know what its habitat is, what it eats, where it sleeps. Itís stupid.

    I went to this video library one day, across my house, and I spent about 25 minutes choosing something to watch. In that time frame, many people came into the library. And I noticed that around nine out of 10 people took films Iíd never ever think of watching. The fact that those people live in the same neighbourhood as I do, means Iíve a disconnect with 90 per cent of the audience that exists right outside my house. I meet people who are so varied in their responses to what they like Ė somebody will tell me, ĎI loved Satya because I heard the word ch***a in it for the first time. Somebody else tells me that after Bhiku Mhatre was shot dead, they walked out of the theatre. There are so many parameters and variables, that for you to think that what you intended is exactly what will happen is ridiculous. I might as well make it my own way. So when I say I make films for myself, thatís what I mean. Itís not that I donít want to make films for the audience. The point is, I donít know the audience.

    Youíve repeated Priyanka Kothari in many films, and Urmila before that. Wouldnít that inevitably lead to link-ups?
    Iíve done five films with Manoj Bajpai, six with Amitabh Bachchan, five with Nagarjuna, with technicians... Nobody talks about it, because it wonít make for interesting reading. Every director has a tendency to repeat the same actors. This, coupled with my outspokenness, about women or whatever, itís taken like that... because no matter what people doubt, they donít doubt my sexual orientation. Also, people like to hear these things. With the kind of reputation the media builds of me, youíd think my house is full of women, like a harem!

    You wish it were, though?
    No, no. Itís difficult to deal with one woman. I might want to dream about it, but no man can be so dumb as to wish a houseful of women!

  2. #2
    Kal Ho Na Ho
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    Aug 2008
    India & Cambodia


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