Sukanya Verma

From a video library owner to one of India's leading filmmakers, Ram Gopal Varma's success story is amazing. His innings as a filmmaker began with the low budget Telugu film Shiva.

Ram Gopal Varma is also responsible for reviving many careers. He played godfather to Urmila Matondkar, Manoj Bajpai, Fardeen Khan and Aftab Shivadasani, to name a few. In Company, he introduces Suresh Oberoi's dashing son Vivek.

"He's the best newcomer I've worked ever with," a proud Varma declares about his latest discovery. Vivek's hard-hitting performance and unconventional looks are already the talk of tinseltown.

Varma also produces films directed by young aspiring filmmakers. Take Shool and Love Ke Liye Kuch Bhi Karega (directed by E Niwas) and Pyaar Tune Kya Kiya (directed by Rajat Mukherjee).

A brief look at Varma's filmography:



Varma started his career with Shiva in Telugu, later remade in Hindi. Starring Nagarjuna and Amala, Shiva dealt with student politics and violence on college campuses. The film was a success and won rave reviews for its technical expertise and the intense mood created throughout the film.



In his follow-up to Shiva, Varma's Drohi starred Nagarjuna with Urmila. The film was about a criminal on the loose who finds himself attracted to a top cop's young sister. If Shiva was spontaneous, Drohi seemed contrived. A haphazard story and screenplay didn't help matters.



Varma's ode to William Friedkin's The Exorcist, Raat, starred the talented South Indian actress Revathy. The film was a disaster at the BO.



Rangeela came like a whiff of fresh air. Full of dreams, colours, upbeat music and inspiring performances, the film portrayed Varma's light side as a director. A love triangle between rogue Munna (Aamir Khan), aspiring actress Mili (Urmila Matondkar) and film star Kamal (Jackie Shroff), Rangeela was one of the biggest hits of the year 1995. The film also gave Urmila's career a new lease of life and reaffirmed Aamir's versatility as an actor.



Varma went all out with the on-the-road adventure Daud. The film was expected to be a Romancing The Stone kind of thriller. But thanks to its insipid sense of humor and lack of chemistry between costars Urmila and Sanjay Dutt, Daud was a washout. The film is best remembered for Urmila's steamy dance numbers and Paresh Rawal's dark comedy.



After trying his hands at fantasy, romance and adventure, Varma came up with Satya. An explicit depiction of the underworld, their modus operandi and their mindset. Technically brilliant and with a sound script, Satya was a trendsetter. It also saw the rise of actors like Manoj Bajpai who played the volatile Bhiku Mhatre.



Shot on a shoestring budget at a reclusive farmhouse in Panvel, Kaun was an experimental horror film. A girl alone in a house, an unnerving stranger, a small-time crook, a stormy night, Varma's technical sense, Sandeep Chowtha's eerie music and Mazhar Kamran's focused camerawork built up a chilly mood.

Urmila's performance was a revelation. The film did well in the metros. Like Raat, Kaun had no songs. Both the films relied on their haunting background scores.



Mast was inspired from Varma's own fantasies about actress Sridevi, who he admires. In Mast, newcomer Aftab Shivdasani portrayed the guy who dreams of being involved with the unattainable film star Urmila Matondkar. The film didn't make any impact and sank without a trace.



Initially Jungle was said to be based on the life of notorious sandalwood smuggler Veerappan. It turned out to be a love story about two youngsters (Fardeen Khan and Urmila), who find themselves caught amidst a motley crew of wild smugglers and crooks (Sushant Singh, Rajpal Yadav and Kashmira Shah).

Despite its sleek look and pacy filming, Jungle lacked soul. It turned out to be a significant film in the careers of Fardeen Khan, Suniel Shetty and Sushant Singh.



With Company, Varma's fetish for unearthing the mechanics of the underworld continues. Company takes a macro view of the international crime scene. It is a lavish, larger-than-life crime story inspired by the real life friends-turned-foes story of notorious gangsters Dawood Ibrahim and Chotta Rajan (played by Ajay Devgan and Vivek Oberoi respectively).


What you should know about Company:

Design: Uday Kuckian

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