RAM GOPAL VERMA
Interview By: Ankita R. Kanabar
He’s quirky, strongly opinionated and isn’t deterred by the fact that his opinion can be different from the majority. Not just his films but also his office ‘Company’ gives you an insight into his mental space and personality, which isn’t really simple. Well, you have to see it yourself, to believe it. Just as his next, the third installment of ‘Sarkar’ has hit the marquee, we catch up with the film-maker for a chat at his office, where we discuss the film and more…
“It’s pointless to analyse a film after its result, both in success and failure”
How often are you confident about a film when it releases? For example, in case of ‘Sarkar 3’.
As a maker, I can’t say anything with confidence, I don’t know how the audience will take it. If I knew, I wouldn’t make flop films. But for me, as a maker it is exciting me because the scale of ‘Sarkar 3’ is bigger. The issues it deals with, the connectivity and relatability of characters is greater.
Does ‘Sarkar 3’ have the essence of the first ‘Sarkar’ than the second installment?
Not the story but in its intention, ‘Sarkar 3’ is quite similar to Sarkar. When I spoke to Amitjee for the first time about ‘Sarkar 3’, I told him, the mistake I made in ‘Sarkar Raj’ – one is, by putting Shankar’s character in the forefront, I kind of reduced the impact of Amitabh Bachchan’s character and I killed him in the pre-climax so it defeated both the purposes in a way. I think ‘Sarkar’ for me is not so much about the story, but the power of the character, the lines. I wanted a lot of that in ‘Sarkar 3’ to create the same effect. I think Sarkar is a realistic superman, he’s a hero. You always want the hero to speak on the same lines, because you kind of liked it. So, the design of this character is very close to ‘Sarkar’, which was not the case with ‘Sarkar Raj’.
How different is your state of mind from the first part to now ‘Sarkar 3’? It’s almost been 12 years…
I’ve become a different person, now whether I’ve become worse or better is someone’s perception but when you’re going back to visit a character and trying to reconstruct the same milieu,I think you get transported back to that era. I wanted to change the space where he operates from. He doesn’t want to live in the same house where Shankar and Vishnu died, so the moment he changes that, the visual look of the film will change. Then the characters around him, none of them were there in the previous two films, so except for those changes, the mindset of what the first Sarkar is – those tight close-ups, those dramatic background score and heightened space in the screenplay – remains the same.
For the longest time…people felt or perhaps still feel ‘Sarkar’ was influenced from Bal Thackeray’s life….
‘Godfather’ for me, was never a film about a mafia. It’s about man who has some kind of power who doesn’t need authorisation but can deliver justice. I thought, the nearest example of that was Bal Thackeray. I thought, if Bal Thackeray can exist then ‘Sarkar’ can also exist. It was a reference point and not life of Bal Thackeray. It doesn’t reflect Shiv Sena or what’s happening in his family. But definitely, if Bal Thackeray didn’t exist then ‘Sarkar’ wouldn’t have been made. Then I might have made some mafia film.
You play a lot with dramatic silences in your films. Where does that influence come from?
Eventually cinema is an emotional experience and lots of times, emotions come in the form of silences, more than speaking, especially when you have actors who can hold the camera with their expressions. So, just when you are waiting for someone to say something, that works as more powerful than what is being said. It’s a function of story-telling. And I was always influenced with this particular style from ‘Godfather’ onwards to the movies of Steven Spielberg which influenced me at that point of time. So, I think naturally it got transferred.
“The formula films have worked for the longest time because they used to cater to everyone – the minute you make a genre film, by its very definition it gets restricted to one kind of audience”
Amidst all your films, which has been your most fulfilling experience?
The interesting part is, I feel, as a film-maker, a film can never be in totality. It starts with an idea and then with a series of decisions taken over different points of time. So, by the time it comes to the finale, many times I don’t like the film which people liked because I suddenly realised that I didn’t do justice to what I know, or now my idea of the film has changed. For example, I hate ‘Company’ now. People liked it for reasons they saw, but I will see it differently, based on what I know I could have done. My knowledge about the underworld and what exactly happens between them increased vastly after ‘Compnay’ released so it looks very fake and elementary in its treatment to me now.
A lot of people also believe you glorify gangsters or criminals in your films…
I don’t know if glorifying is the right word. I feel the media does it. If you wish to make a film on a character, and make it impactful, it goes without saying that you need to glorify a character. Nobody in the world thinks Hitler is a good guy, but to create the impact which he has, you need to glorify his character in a film. I think you work more in glorifying a criminal than a scientist in a Research Centre. You can’t do high speed even if you want to. At the end of the day, newspapers are full of people who did scams, and crimes. We’re interested in the dark side of human beings, that’s instinctive. We get interested in crime which is instinctive in all of us, and we let it out as a fantasy in cinema.
How do you look at a film’s success or failure? Do you analyse it in any sense?
I feel, it’s pointless to analyse a film after its result, both in success and failure. There are films which we don’t like and they do very well. And then there are films which we like and they don’t do well. It’s different for different people. But I look at a film overall, as to what my mind-space was, when I was making the film. For example, ‘Company’ worked, but for me it’s a bigger flop than ‘Veerappan’, because I did a better job in the latter as per the material I had. That’s how I look at it, so I’m a wrong person to ask that question.
Do you also think about the taste of the audiences while venturing into a film?
To generalise the audience is wrong. When ‘Satya’ came, a lot of people who saw the film at the preview theatre felt nobody wants to see these ugly-looking, sweaty-looking faces in chawls, because only escapist cinema was working. You never even know if the same film might work today. So, just to generalise what the audience wants to see is wrong. Different people like different things. I don’t like romcoms but so many people like romcoms. So many people go to a book store and you might not like 90 percent of the books but you’ll buy something atleast. What you buy will be different from what I buy. Which is why, the formula films have worked for the longest time because they used to cater to everyone – the minute you make a genre film, by its very definition it gets restricted to one kind of audience. Then the secret is to make it in a budget where it still survives.
What do you have to say about the way you express yourself on Twitter which has got everyone’s attention?
Twitter for me is nothing than a platform to express myself and it’s a part of my personality. And I don’t really think that my tweets affect my films in any way.