I Never Took A Break In The Last 35 Years Of My Life: Ram Gopal Varma, Film Companion

Ram Gopal Varma’s latest production venture Dhahanam is set to release on MX player on April 14. In this interview, he talks about the web series, his horror film Raat, and how quality films will get more reach because of technology. 

Dhahanam’s story is said to run between two quotes.  “An eye for an eye will only succeed in making the whole world blind” (Mahatma Gandhi) and “Revenge is the purest emotion” (a quote from the Mahabharata).

Both the quotes are quite contradictory, how does the series deal with both aspects?

The reason they are contradictory is why I put them there. There will always be people who want to quell it and then there will be people who want to perpetuate it. And because someone is doing it, even the person who doesn’t want it will be drawn into the circle of violence, which is where the Mahatma Gandhi quote came from. 

Because if someone did something to me, and I do something to him, then someone else would do something to me, and it goes on. But, having said that, it is practically not possible to practise what Gandhi said because it’ll only work when everyone follows it. Even if one person breaks the cycle, you will just become the victim. So then the violence becomes almost necessary in that kind of situation. 

For example, if Vladimir Putin, the President of Russia also listens, then there will be world peace. But the moment Putin attacks Ukraine, others also don’t have a choice, but to attack. That is the practical reality. So that’s what I meant by the contradiction of those two quotes.

From what we can see in the trailer, could we say that the series is closer to reality?

I think yes and no because the point is closer to reality. Take, for example, Sarkar, there are a lot of talks based on  Bal Thackeray which is not actually true. It’s not exactly a Bal Thackeray story, but my point is if Bal Thackeray can exist then Sarkar can also exist. It is to that extent that I will say it comes from true events and people, but not directly in the way it means.

 

Do you think the fact that this story is released as a web series instead of a film gives it more scope and space?

Definitely. I think the great advantage of the web series is that it gives you so much more time for you to invest your emotions into the characters and the story. You also know you don’t need to compromise on some very good detail, unlike in the feature film, which is short and you don’t have the time. So I think you live the journey of the characters much more in a web series compared to a film. 

With the boom of web series and OTT, if you could remake any of your “gangster” movies now, which film would you choose? And why? 

I think it would be Satya. I don’t know if you can remake it for OTT but it could be converted into a web series. It would be one prime material for that because it is also very rich in characters and there can be so many subplots that head in different directions. 

In a few days, KGF Chapter 2 will release. It is a film from the Kannada industry, we could say it is the smallest industry in South India when compared to Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam. So how do you see the importance of the movie nationwide?

In today’s time, because of communication technology, everything in the world is at the tip of our fingers. We can Google and find out things. So I feel that eventually the quality of the film, irrespective of the language, will grow its own legs to reach wherever it is supposed to reach. And the language has got nothing to do with it.

 

It has been 30 years since the release of your horror film Raat. To date, it remains one of the best supernatural films. What is your most striking memory of the film?

I always wanted to make a horror film, my primary thing was that. My all-time favourite horror films are The Exorcist, Evil Dead and similar movies. I feel horror films require the highest amount of technique because it depends a lot on camera movements, sound effects and the use of psychological manipulation to make the audience feel scared. Unlike a drama that mostly depends on dialogue, story and screenplay, horror films work purely on movements that are scary. So Raat was like my take on how I feel about the genre and the horror films I have watched.

With the format of a web series, will you make a horror series? 

Yeah, definitely. In fact, I am working on a script right now.

You have been in the industry for over three decades. How do you have the energy to keep making so many movies? Do you feel like taking a break after a film? 

I never took a break in the last 35 years of my life, even for one day. I don’t do it because I enjoy my work and I don’t feel the need to take a break.

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