RAMU : THE ICON AND THE ICONOCLAST

“launching my new film Rai, the greatest Gangster ever on May 1st. Vivek Oberoi will be playing the title role.”– this is a tweet from Ram Gopal Varma. Yes, ‘the’ Ram Gopal Varma.

I had almost forgotten the name and I feel bad for that. Ram Gopal Varma was once my favorite filmmaker. He is an icon as well as an iconoclast. Just have a look at his resume- He is a producer, director, screenwriter, casting director and has made films in Hindi, Telugu and Kannada languages. He has made films across multiple genres and has created a new genre altogether called the ‘Mumbai Noir’ with his gangster films like Satya and Company.He broke the rules of filmmaking in mainstream Bollywood with his experimental films and he was regarded as the fountainhead of new age Indian cinema and the most successful maverick of Bombay Industry.

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The powerful films he made include Siva (1989), Raat (1992), Rangeela (1995), Satya (1997), Shool (1999), Company (2002). Under his banner as a producer, he provided the young generation of filmmakers resources and more importantly he gave them the much-needed courage to go beyond the existing norms and create new cinema. Almost half of the film industry today was once associated with RGV. Almost every filmmaker who is considered brilliant today was once promoted by RGV and his company (the list includes Anurag Kashyap, Jaideep Sahni, Madhur Bhandarkar, Puri Jagannadh, E. Nivas, Prawal Raman, Hansal Mehta, Krishna Vamsi, and Vishram Sawant). These are the facts about him but in my opinion, the man is more than these facts. His contributions to cinema are deep rooted and would show upon filmmaking even after 100 years.

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RGV brought A.R. Rehman to the Hindi Industry with his iconic Rangeela. The music of Rangeela is still among one of the best works of Rehman.  Rangeela is not only remembered for its music but also for Amir khan’s best performance till date. Yes, you read it right Amir Khan’s performance in Rangeela is the best he has done till date. With Satya, RGV broke all the norms of filmmaking and gave new life to the Indian New Wave Cinema. This kind of work was never seen in Indian industry and Satya became a benchmark for brilliance. The realistic gangster movies (gangsters without the glamor) created a separate space for itself in the hearts of the viewers. With Company, he gave a new life to Ajay Devgn. Ajay Devgn was surely unaware of his abilities as an actor and I am sure he could not have imagined the magic that he creates with smart one-liners. RGV gave him the chance to excel and today he is one of the finest actors we have in our industry. RGV changed everything associated with the process of filmmaking and distribution.

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But, what happened to him lately is a larger topic for discussion. How he lost touch with the reality, is a question that only he can answer. His obsession with those annoying extreme close-up shots is inexplicable.  Why he stopped writing screenplays I do not understand (post Shool he has written only 3 or 4 screenplays). I can understand that during the making of Satya, Shool and Company he had a great team with him but he should not forget that the team was selected and created by him only and he can create a brilliant team again. His obsessive personality is the main hindrance in the way of his success but this same obsessive personality was also once the main reason for his success.

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Now he has announced Rai with Vivek Oberoi and he claims that this Gangster is bigger than Dawood, Al Capone, and even Escobar. These days he has lost his touch and it’s hard to believe that he would be able to create the magic of Satya and Company. But I don’t know why this time I want to trust him. I want the old Ramu back. The Industry needs him badly. Ramu, please come back with your magic.

 

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