Thursday, August 14, 2008

I salute thee, oh motherland!

I salute thee, oh motherland!

தாய்-மண்ணை வண்ணக்கம்!

Jana-gana-mana-adhinaayaka, jaya hé
Tava shubha naamé jaagé,
Tava shubha aasisa maangé,
Gaahé tava jaya gaatha,
Jana-gana-mangala-daayaka jaya hé
Jaya hé, jaya hé, jaya hé,
Jaya jaya jaya, jaya hé!

He who laughs!

There is no turning back for this dream merchant who has an insatiable appetite for good movie making. I caught up with the RGV over the weekend when he was in Bangalore for the release of Contract.

Ram Gopal Verma is not your everyday filmmaker. He’s dabbled in almost all genres of cinema and created his own distinct style in horror and gangster flicks. I met the multitalented director, to talk about Contract, Phoonk, and everything else that makes him tick… here’s what I found out.

LRMS: Why another gangster flick (Contract)?
RGV: (smiles) Well, it’s not really just another gangster flick; it’s more about a backdrop of the underworld, character conflicts and a peculiar connection with terrorism. The story is different because it established that link between terrorism and the underworld.

LRMS: How come we haven’t really seen that much of contract, while Phoonk’s already on everyone’s must-watch list?
I guess that’s the case in Bangalore, only because of Sudeep.

LRMS: You’ve been considered to be a father when it comes to two genres in Bollywood – Horror and the Underworld?
RGV: These two genres are my favourites, as they allow me to play around with technique and be as different as I like being. Gangster movies are superb for the kind of characterization you can play with, while horror flicks allow you to get as technically innovative as you can. These are both highs to any director, so why not me?

LRMS: How did Sudeep happen?
RGV: We met a few years ago, when he approached me with the idea of remaking Sarkar in Kannada. I was quite interested after the meeting and watched a few of his movies in Kannada, My Autograph and Ranga SSLC, to name a few. I was very impressed with the screenplays and I saw the potential in him, which is why I offered him Phoonk. The character seemed to match his persona and that he was a good actor was confirmed. So I gave him the role.

LRMS: How is Sudeep as an actor?
RGV: He is very hard working, and would sit-up every night to get the dialogues straight. He isn’t a Hindi speaker, so had to work quite a bit on the language, but he has done a good job.

LRMS: We all know Sudeep is the type who can get very vocal with his thoughts on the set, was it very obvious in Phoonk?
Not really. Either he gave up or gave in to me (laughs) I guess he gave in to me, and let me hold the reins. He does however pay a lot of attention to every detail which is a good thing.

LRMS: You seem to like casting south Indian stars as male leads in your horror films, is this habit?
RGV: (laughs) Not really, Chakravarthy to me was more of a Hindi actor when I cast him in Vaastu Shaastra. He had already done Satya with me. Sudeep being cast in another male lead in a horror film is just by chance. I have no such habits.

LRMS: You like casting new faces in films any particular reasons?
RGV: Very simple reason – No baggage. New stars come with no baggage of previous characters and their unpredictability makes then much easier to mould. When I worked with the three Bachchans in Sarkar Raj, there was this baggage that all three actors carried with them. New actors don’t have that disadvantage.

LRMS: Future plans?
RGV: A film with Sudeep sometime in November, we haven’t decided on the subject or the genre as yet and a romantic soon!

LRMS: Three genres you’d like to direct a movie in?
A historical for sure. An adventure is my next pick and a comedy like Angoor.

LRMS: A possible return to south Indian cinema?
Not in the near future.

LRMS: The last south Indian movie you watched and loved?
RGV: Sivaji.

PS: He smiles! And laughs!

This is Aishwarya Kannan, by the way who was my only source of entertainment all through the interview! Thanks a tonne love!