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The Rediff Interview / Prawaal Raman

'I never even thought of comparing Gayab to Mr India'

July 14, 2004

Prawaal RamanHe loves The Godfather, Sholay, Cinema Paradiso and Gladiator. He can watch them again and again.

He doesn't want to turn invisible but as a kid he craved for the watch Anil Kapoor wore in Mr India to do the disappearing act.

He doesn't like talking about himself. Why? Because there is nothing interesting about it.

Call him arrogant or media shy, Prawaal Raman doesn't give a damn. The Darna Mana Hai director is more interested in knowing what the audience's reaction to his second film, Gayab, will be.

Discover more about this Ram Gopal Varma discovery in this conversation with Senior Correspondent Sukanya Verma.

Wasn't Gayab originally titled Vishnu Prasad Gayab Ho Gaya?

Only for a short span, because the character's name is Vishnu Prasad. [Otherwise] It was always called Gayab.

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How did the idea of Gayab come about?

It came to Ramuji keeping in mind the [one of the] stories of Darna Mana Hai -- the Stop episode featuring Aftab Shivdasani. Suresh Nair of Bombay Times (The Times of India supplement) developed that particular story, which Ramuji gave to me. [Another writer] Kona Venkat, Suresh and I developed Gayab.

Is Gayab inspired by Hollow Man?

Not at all. The very fact that it deals with the hero being invisible, there would be buzz about it being inspired from Mr India to 10 other films which deal with invisibility of a hero. But this story line is totally different.

Why did you zero in on Tusshar for Vishnu Prasad's role?

He suited the character very well, which is a very clichéd answer. Secondly, his face carries the darkness and the pathos of a man who carries a past behind which is troubled. There is some sadness about his face, which I compare with Guru Dutt.

Was Tusshar reluctant to play a failure?

Not at all. The story is just not about a loser. The character just begins as a loser. But it's a very challenging role. It encompasses the growth of a failure because of the support system he gets in life. And that support system in Gayab happens to be the invisibility factor.

Does Vishnu Prasad misuse his powers?

At times, he does. He becomes invisible. After that, he only caters to himself. Any person who caters to himself will become a little selfish no doubt. Once a person is selfish, it's a chain reaction. It will give scope for evil things to do.

Tusshar Kapoor in GayabDoes it have a horror element to it?

Not really. Everything has been treated in a very fun-loving way.

But does Gayab have dark humour?

The very fact that he [Vishnu Prasad] is a failure in life, his friends trouble him and people are laughing at him shows that the humour is dark. When a man slips on a banana and bystanders laugh is also dark humour.

The character has suffered a lot since the beginning of the film, so the humour is dark.

What's the USP of Gayab?

Its story line. The invisibility factor, simplicity of narration and lot of special effects.

Gayab on!

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Gayab: A preview

How different was directing six stories in Darna Mana Hai from concentrating on one story in Gayab?

Same difference. It had six stories one ending. Gayab has one story one ending. [Laughs].

I don't compare the two. Both were challenging. At a given point, whichever film I am doing is most challenging to me, irrespective of how I treated it. The process is very momentary.

The synopsis of Gayab reads: And to top it all God made him (Vishnu Prasad) invisible. But Ram Gopal Varma is an atheist.

For our convenience of filmmaking, definitely, we do believe in God [Laughs]. Also, ghosts. We made Bhoot and Darna Mana Hai.

Are there any interesting anecdotes that you can recount while making Gayab?

Not really. We were too involved. It never became like a happy family. We were not madly in love with each other. It was like a normal shooting, very professional. We landed up completing the film the way we had planned.

Including the songs, it took 95 days to complete filming Gayab. It had a lot of special effects also, [so] I had to be extremely well planned.

Tusshar Kapoor, Antara Mali in GayabWhat was producer Ram Gopal Varma's input in Gayab?

The inputs were throughout, right from very basic story line to screenplay to dialogues. I seek those inputs. If I don't get them, I won't be cool.

Many films with the invisibility theme have been made. Which ones have inspired you the most?

Mr India remains my all-time favourite. That's why while making Gayab, I never even thought of comparing my film to Mr India. It is a classic.

If a filmmaker is young, do people around him tend to take him for granted?

It's not about young or old, it's how well you know your job. It's not like if you're young, people won't listen to you. I have never had any problems.

In an earlier interview, you said you don't like talking about yourself because there is no story to tell. That's why you like creating stories?

Life is very exciting. I do what I want to. I make films. I am not a sad man with a story behind myself. I don't like talking about myself because I don't find anything interesting for me or anybody else.

How can you decide for others?

I decide for others. I shoot a film deciding for others [Laughs]. I like reading about people who talk about how they made it. But I can't romanticise the entire thing.

It's a conscious decision that I don't want to talk about myself. You can call it media shy, arrogance, (an) attitude problem or a way of remaining mysterious.

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