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'Dawood was a visionary for the underworld'

By RONJITA KULKARNI
Last updated on: March 18, 2021 12:12 IST
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'D Company is obviously not a registered company, but the way he organised it, with his kind of vision, which finished the Pathan gang and the older members.'

IMAGE: Ashwat Kanth, who plays Dawood, with Naina Ganguly, his love interest in the film. Photograph: Kind courtesy Ram Gopal Varma/Twitter

Ram Gopal Varma's fascination with Mumbai's gangsters brings him to the marquee once again with D Company.

The film, based on fugitive gangster Dawood Ibrahim's life and crimes, will be followed by a Web series on the Pakistan-based thug, tracing his life from 1982 to 2015.

We haven't seen Ramu's famed cinematic magic for a while now, but that isn't stopping him from announcing more and more movies.

In fact, he has planned one on Arnab Manoranjan Goswami, the Managing Director of the Republic television network.

How are things on that front?

"Things with Arnab are happening so fast, he is outgrowing my script! Just when I think I've reached a point, he goes far ahead," Ramu tells Ronjita Kulkarni/Rediff.com with a laugh, adding, "I'm waiting for some kind of a climax to happen."

The first of a two-part interview:

What makes you so fascinated by Dawood?

When Satya was made, it was based on newspaper events and things I had heard from here and there. It was more like a fictional story.

But for D Company, I actually met people who worked in the D gang in 1980. Some went to jail and came out.

I spoke to retired police officers. Since they were very far from it now, they were more comfortable sharing their experiences of what happened at that time.

Also, I am a huge fan of The Godfather novel.

I thought all these characters like Haji Mastan and Karim Lala have become legends because it happened such a long time back. They almost belong to another world, another time, and to tell their story was very exciting.

Why does Dawood stand out for you?

There were a lot of street gangs operating at that time, like the Byculla gang, the Golden gang, the Gawli gang...the only gang that was called Company was associated with Dawoods gang.

D Company is obviously not a registered company, but the way he organised it, with his kind of vision, which finished the Pathan gang and the older members.

Dawood was a visionary for the underworld.

Your film Company was also based on Dawood's life.

Company is loosely based on a certain incident that happened in Dawood's life -- it was about Chotta Rajan, and what led to his attack in Bangkok.

Half of the characters there were fictional while others were loosely based on real people.

But D Company is about how it all started... when it was just a small street gang and Karim Lala and Haji Mastan were much bigger than Dawood.

The film is set between the years 1980-1982, when his brother was killed and what he did after that. That was the first time people heard the name Dawood Ibrahim.

The film is based on these two years only. After this, I will release a Web series called D Company, which will span over 35 years in Dawood's life in eight episodes.

I will tell the entire story of the Mumbai underworld from 1982 right up to 2015 when Chotta Rajan was arrested. It's about real people and situations.

It's about understanding how a street gang became an international crime syndicate.

 

IMAGE: Dawood has lunch with Haji Mastan in D Company. Photograph: Kind courtesy Ram Gopal Varma/Twitter

Your films now seem to be inspired from real life like D Company, Coronavirus... Why does real life inspire you?

I have always had a fascination for real life people and incidents, like the Attack of 26/11.

Sarkar was based on Bal Thackaray.

I always had a tendency to pick up something that was happening around us.

Are you really making a film on Arnab Goswami?

Things with Arnab are happening so fast, he is outgrowing my script! Just when I think I have reached a point, he goes far ahead (laughs).

I am waiting for some kind of a climax to happen.

IMAGE: Ram Gopal Varma directs Apsara Rani in D Company. Photograph: Kind courtesy Ram Gopal Varma/Twitter

Are you interested in politics?

I am interested in political psychology and power equations.

I am not interested in the way a party is run.

IMDB lists some 14 films under-production by you. You released shorts last year as well, when everyone had stopped working due to COVID. Why are you making so many films?

I am producing the films, I am not making all of them.

Because my name is associated with the films, people think that I am directing them.

I give complete freedom to the director. Except for facilitating the production and getting the funds, I am not involved at all.

In fact, I am directing a film after a long time with D Company.

Is the funding easy?

Eventually, the funding happens because of the power of an idea.

People somehow feel that it has potential in the cost that it is made in.

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RONJITA KULKARNI / Rediff.com
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