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Terror, Ramu ishtyle
Ronjita Kulkarni | April 08, 2003 17:33 IST
Ram Gopal Varma's films have always generated curiosity. More so, because the filmmaker delights in experimenting with different genres.
Ever since his directorial debut Shiva (which Ramu claims was inspired by 'one of his favourite films, Arjun'), Varma has had a prolific track record of acclaimed films, be it Rangeela (romantic comedy), Satya (action thriller), Kaun (horror thriller) or Company (thriller).
In his latest film Bhoot, Varma explores the horror genre. "Horror has fascinated me since childhood," he says. "I got this idea [to make a horror film] years ago. For Indians, horror means a woman in a white sari, mists and screeching. People always associate horror with graveyards. I wanted to bring horror to their homes in the middle of Mumbai. I wanted to break the rules of horror films."
Bhoot, starring Ajay Devgan, Urmila Matondkar, Fardeen Khan, Nana Patekar, Victor Bannerjee, Seema Biswas and Rekha, is about a married couple, Vishal and Swati (played by Devgan and Matondkar), who shift to a new house in Mumbai. There is a lot more to their 12th floor apartment than meets the eye -- the previous occupant plunged to death from its balcony.
Swati starts getting nightmares and disturbing visions. When she has a nervous breakdown, Vishal seeks a medium's (Rekha) help.
Varma says he resorted to daily objects, which 'people tend to take for granted,' to create a sense for fear. He explains, "I tried to create fear in television channels, construction sites, vehicles, lifts and so on. Sound is very important. [Sound designer] Dwarak [Warrier] has given sound such a good interpretation in Bhoot that it is now a character. There is a good background score as well."
Devgan, who starred in Varma's Company, also stars in his international project Ek and Murder At Srikrishna Building. He is even producing Murder… "Ajay stars in many of my films," Varma says. "Over the years, we have developed a strong working relationship. He has a lot of versatility."
He adds that his muse and Rangeela star Matondkar has given "a great performance" in Bhoot.
Varma treads new ground in the film, which boasts of no songs, either lip-synced or played in the background. He believes songs will detract from film's thrill, since Bhoot is fast-paced.
As a concession to promoting the film on television, Varma did come up with two music videos, featuring Usha Uthup and Sunidhi Chauhan to music scored by Salim-Suleiman, Anand Raaj Anand and Amar Mohile.
Varma cites singer Madonna's video for the James Bond film Die Another Day. "Audiences know it is not part of the film. Yet they were lured into seeing the film." The director plans to follow the same pattern for Ek and Ek Haseena Thi.
"If my intention is to thrill, why should I take the audience to Switzerland [for a song sequence]? India has a lopsided approach to music. I learnt this during my last production Road [directed by Rajat Mukherjee, starring Vivek Oberoi and Antara Mali]. The film was fast, edge-of-the-seat. Songs were not required. But a film like Rangeela would not work without songs," he says.
Varma has no doubt the films will do well despite not having songs: "There is a popular belief that people react to songs in films. But television shows songs all the time. People want something more now.
"Films flop due to poor quality and repeat content," he reasons. "The audience is getting choosy. Filmmakers must get realistic. They must create excitement and deliver it. Sadly, most of them are not capable of new thought. Actually, besides content, music, direction and the title are also important."
That explains Bhoot: "That is what this film is all about, " grins Varma. "All the havoc in the film is created by the bhoot [ghost]."
Varma reflects on the high points in his career, saying, "If a film is good, people call it a high point. If it is a flop, it is considered a low point. I do not think that way. I look at details. A simple scene in a film can teach me a lot."
The filmmaker has his hands full this year. Besides Bhoot, Ek (featuring Amitabh Bachchan, Devgan and Akshay Kumar), the 20th Century Fox film Ek Haseena Thi (Saif Ali Khan, Matondkar and Mali) and his murder mystery Murder At Srikrishna Building (Devgan), Varma has four films with K Sera Sera, a company floated by a group of NRI businessmen.
Ab Tak Chappan, directed by Shimit Amin, is based on police encounters in Mumbai; Nimmi, directed by Taufeeq Ahmed, is about a child trapped in a forest. Darna Manaa Hai, directed by Prabal Pandey, is an episodic supernatural thriller; and Chala Vinod Tiwari Film Banane, directed by Rajneesh Thakur, is about a small-town man who comes to Mumbai with a script, hoping to make the kind of films he loves watching.
Ramu is also producing Main Madhuri Dixit Banna Chahti Hoon, starring Mali and Rajpal Yadav. It will be directed by Chandan Arora.