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Ram Gopal Varma takes on Aliens!

June 10, 2009 14:29 IST

Ram Gopal Varma takes on Aliens!

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After scaring us with his last horror movie Phoonk, Ram Gopal Varma hopes to send more chills down our spine with Agyaat, a thriller set in a jungle. The film stars Priyanka Kothari and is set for a July 24 release.

RGV tells Patcy N more about the film and why he regrets making Ram Gopal Varma Ki Aag.

Is Agyaat a horror film?

No. A horror film deals with the supernatural like ghosts and spirits. Agyaat is about a film unit that goes to a jungle for a shoot and is caught in a situation where they get killed one by one.

We have seen such kinds of films in Hollywood like Predator, Anaconda, Aliens or Blair Witch Project. The only difference is that there we can see the creature that is killing people. In Agyaat, we don't know who or what is behind the killings. That is the uniqueness of this film. That's why I have called it Agyaat (unidentified).

Do you think a Hollywood-styled film will work in India?

I am not stupid to think that the film will not work, and yet make it.


Image: A scene from Agyaat

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'An interview of Ridley Scott inspired me to make Agyaat'

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What inspired you to make Agyaat?

I read an interview of Ridley Scott [the director of Alien] where he said that if you go to a strange place and experience something different, you should share that experience with others. But it's not necessary to understand what you went through. For example, if you go to a haunted house and hear an eerie sound, you experience fear. What you felt should be shared. That interview partly inspired me to make Agyaat.

Why a film unit?

A film unit is a walking office with a hierarchy of its own. But in the face of death, all differences get erased, making them more human as they're all fighting for their lives. I am trying to create fear and terror through camera movements, background score and voice effects.

You have cast Priyanka [earlier known as Nisha Kothari] even though her last few films like Go, James, Shiva, Ram Gopal Varma Ki Aag were flops...

I do every casting based on my personal knowledge of the character.


Image: Priyanka Kohtari in a scene from Agyaat

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'The Sigiriya jungles of Sri Lanka look unreal'

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Why have you chosen newcomers to make the rest of the cast?

It is not about old or new. I choose actors according to the characters. There are movies that need stars. For example, Sarkar cannot be made without Amitabh Bachchan. But a movie like Satya would look fake if I had cast a known face. In Company, I needed a new guy like to play Chandu. But for Mallik, I needed a known face.

As Agyaat is about an unknown thing killing the characters, I didn't need known actors.

Your film titles are usually strong Hindi words like Agyaat, Rann, Rakhtacharitra... 

I did not realise that I was using strong Hindi words. But yes, I choose such words because I need a one word title which make an impact. But it is just a coincidence.

Where was Agyaat shot?

Agyaat was shot in the Sigiriya jungles of Sri Lanka. It is a very scary jungle and I chose it because the location is the substitute for the character. I have been to many jungles but have never seen anything like the Sigiriya jungle. It looks unreal. I shot Agyaat in 45 days.


Image: A scene from Agyaat

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'I don't have as much money as Hollywood to create a creature'

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When you write a film, what is the first thing that comes to your mind? Is it the plot or the characters?

That's a difficult question. I think differently for each film. Sometimes I am not even aware that I'm going to make a film. An idea may grow on me without me realising it and one day I may decide to make a film. I wanted to make Godfather ever since I read the book but I ended up making Sarkar 25 years later. In the same way, Rangeela came to me because of someone I knew in college who was like Munna [the character played by Aamir Khan]. So I can't say exactly when an idea comes to me. Every film has a back story.

What is the back story for Agyaat?

I think Aliens. I saw it 17 times. A team of astronauts in a spaceship gets killed off by a creature. So in Agyaat, I substituted the jungle for the spaceship, the astronauts for the film unit, and because I don't have as much money as Hollywood to create a creature, I thought I will not show it.

What is the budget of the film?

It is around Rs 8 to 9 crores.


Image: A scene from Agyaat

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'I made bad films in the last four years'

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You are working on three films right now.

I made bad films in the last four years so I want to inundate them with new ones. Either that or I will have to make the people get used to my kind of films and give them no choice [laughs].

You're making a film called Rifle.

The problem with Rifle is the cast. There is so much in my imagination that I don't know if I can ever locate a girl that would fit the description I'm looking for. It is not just about a sexy looking girl, but it is also about the atmosphere and the mindset at that time. There are too many psychological angles to it. It can't be made just like that.


Image: A scene from Agyaat

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'I have become a better filmmaker because of my blog'

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Do you enjoy blogging?

Yes. I get a sense of achievement when I'm writing a blog because it gives me insight to my work. I'm surrounded by people who have their own motivations and agendas so when they tell me something, I don't know if it's the truth because they probably may be scared of me and my position, or they don't like me.

But people who write to me on my blog are outsiders who have nothing to gain or lose from speaking their mind. That gives me more insight on whether they like my work or not. It opens up the world for me. I always think that I have become a better filmmaker because of my blog.

But you show your mean streak on your blog too.

Yes. Some people say I am very funny and then there are others who think I am very rude. Recently, a journalist asked me why my blog is full of anger. That's the last thing on my mind but then that is how people perceive me. I don't take life seriously and I put that across on my blog.

Have you changed much since your college days?

I haven't changed at all. I recently put up an article on my blog that I had written on God, 27 years ago. I could see the clarity of thought even then, though my English was too simplistic. But the thoughts remained the same.


Image: A scene from Agyaat

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'I regret making Ram Gopal Varma Ki Aag'

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If you were to start your film career all over again, what would you do differently?

Ram Gopal Varma Ki Aag. Aag is special to me not because it is the biggest flop of my career but because I did something like that to Sholay. I am shocked with myself. I would not want to revisit that in my life. I regret subjecting the actors -- whether it was Amitabh Bachchan, Ajay Devgan, Sushmita Sen, Priyanka Kothari, Mohanlal or Prashant -- who trusted me, to the aftermath of Aag.

Otherwise, I am happy with everything I have done irrespective of them working or not because all the films have added something to my experience.

For example, when Drohi did not work, I still had the confidence to make Satya. When Raat did not work, I made Bhoot. So all of these films have continuity. People may look at it as independent films but I know how each film has helped me. If I had not done Drohi, I wouldn't have met Urmila [Matondkar]. And if I had not met her, I would never have made Rangeela.


Image: A scene from Ram Gopal Varma Ki Aag

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'I don't scare easily. I think the outcome of many of my films scares me'

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Why don't you try a family drama?

I am very bored of families. I am not a family man and have never understood the concept of a family going on a holiday. The whole point of a holiday should be to be away from the family. If you take them, what is the point? You will have the same fights there.

So you chose to make scary movies?

I like to scare people even as a kid.

What scares you?

I don't scare easily. I think the outcome of many of my films scares me. The outcome of Aag chills me. At least you can run from supernatural things!

Which are your favourite movies?

The Godfather, The Exorcist, The Sound Of Music, Sholay and Ram Gopal Varma Ki Aag.


Image: A scene from Sarkar

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