The mercurial Ram Gopal Varma has been quiet for a while… ostensibly it is the lull before the storm.
Businessofcinema.com spoke to the ‘Factory owner’ regarding his films and business of making cinema… Quick to admit his follies, Ramu spoke at length about his ideologies.
Generally you have a series of films coming together and then there is a lull. Is it a coincidence or is it planned?
It is not that we want to take a break or the entire planning is merely with our consent. Films take an operative time to finish and it is just a co-incidence that there has been a break. The other reason is that I have been busy and it took me a while to set up the Factory. So I have not had time to pay attention to some of the productions, which I ideally should have. Keeping all this is mind, I just wanted to make it as perfectly as I could. This was the reason for the delay. Right now, we are ready with five films which should start coming out from April and will be on till August.
You never had stars in your films. And suddenly Ram Gopal Varma is working with everyone from Amitabh Bachchan in Darna Zaroori Hai and Sarkar to Shah Rukh Khan?
I want to clear the air. Nowhere, I repeat, nowhere have I said in any of my interviews that I will never work with stars. The question is that it depends on the demands of the subject matter on which I am making my film. It also depends on my interest or my equation with the actors.
Like for instance in Satya, if I had worked with a Salman Khan, it will not have worked because it would not have looked believable. Similarly a Rangeela needed certain stars. In Company, Malik plays a character who you need to take seriously. Hence it was important to cast a character who is already known like Ajay Devgan.The character of Chandu keeps growing and it is my analysis and interpretation of what will fit in. But that does not mean that I am always right. I could go wrong.
And another reason also stars because they are highly in demand they are booked for a lot of time. I don’t have the patience to wait for people. Once I get charged about a film, I want to make it soon. I am not in a position to wait for the stars. It is not like I don’t want to work with newcomers or I want to work with stars.
There were a multitude of stars in Darna Manaa Hai and much more in the forthcoming Darna Zaroori Hai. Any specific problems now working with a dozen stars?
I never had any problems working with stars. Yes, but I have had problems working with newcomers at times. (Laughs) I feel the reason why someone has become a star is because there is a sensibility that they use it right. Darna… is a concept of many short stories coming together. A lot of people have asked me as to why did I make Darna Zaroori Hai when Darna Manaa Hai did not do well.
If a love story flops, people are not going to stop making love stories. Similarly if an action film bites the dust, that does not mean there won’t be any more action films. What went wrong with Darna Manaa Hai I thought I will correct them and make the same concept with another set of stories through Darna Zaroori Hai?
I think I have eradicated the problems that were present in Darna Manaa Hai. But what fresh set of problems will emerge through DZH will be known only after the release.
What’s new about DZH?
See, there are stories which are made into films of two and a half hour duration each. And then you have those stories whose length does not exceed 15 minutes and if you stretch it the fun of the film will go off. But one has to remember that the length of a feature film should be two hours or more. So if you can invent a concept where you can still entertain the people by telling the story in 15 minutes without stretching it, but still give them the money’s worth tell them six stories of fifteen minutes somehow connected to each other and because of that you get to give them something new from the run-of-the-mill films that come every Friday.
What prompted you to make six scary stories?
Eventually a film is an emotional experience. It just make you feel something new, whether you laugh or cry or feel scared – it is basically a myth that the film works only on a story. It could work on a song, could works on a comedy track it works on something that you like about it. The basic purpose is to entertain the audience. This is the story, this is the title.
People will walk in with certain expectations. They already have some background knowledge of the film. So whether it lives up to the expectations of the maker, marks the success of the film. And that experience is everything; whether it is six stories or four stories or one story is not really the point.
The point is whether the experience has been satisfying to the viewer. You are making different kind of films When I wanted to be a filmmaker; I started making films; then I became the producer as I wanted control of the film’s making; Then I saw such young talent with many ideas and looking for a platform; I could use my experience and expertise to create an establishment to see that those films can happen.
I can direct a maximum of one or two films a year. But just because I don’t have time, why shouldn’t those films be made? That is what my idea of starting the Factory was all about.
Where do you see Factory going from here?
The point is tie-ups are based on certain funding or distribution, so many things depending on project to project. But Factory is basically a film production unit.. so it will tie up with several people like Adlabs you mentioned of strengthening the process.
Looking at the way you are moving…. are we looking at the studio system coming back now?
Basically a system has to come from within your work practice, what is it that you feel comfortable in a work what is that you want, provided you have clarity. I cannot comment on what others are doing, as far as I am concerned, call it the Factory system or the Studio system, I have designed it to suit my temperament and my understanding of the business.