Ram Gopal Varma Blog #158. My History

I always maintained that there are no great directors and no great actors but there are only well directed films and well enacted roles. That’s because a director is as good as the subject matter he chooses and an actor is as good as the character he gets. For example I am the same guy who directed “SHIVA” and I am the same guy who directed “SHIVA 2006”. Now why did the first one turned out to be so good and the second one so bad. It’s because it is the subject matter which invariably will be largely responsible in bringing the novelty of presentation and also the seriousness with which any director will project his take on it.

The biggest danger for any filmmaker is when he feels that he is the master of that particular subject matter which is bound to build a certain complacent arrogance in him and it will bring in him a ‘taking it for granted’ attitude. A “SHIVA” happened because of my first hand experiences of goonda activities on college campuses and I was dying to capture that spirit in the form a film.

A “RANGEELA” happened because I was so inspired by the visual concepts of Hollywood musical classics like “Singing in the Rain” etc and I was trying my best to imitate them in an indianised way.

A “SATYA” happened because of my being new to Mumbai I was so unfamiliar and yet so excited to see Mumbai in its bare nakedness. I was desperately trying to find a way to put an order into its chaotic situations and from it a new style got evolved.

A “COMPANY” happened because I gained a very comprehensive understanding of how the Mumbai underworld operates by the time I finished filming “SATYA” and because of that there is a very composed strong structure to the making of “COMPANY”.

A “SARKAR” happened because of my long standing desire to capture the intense tone of Mario Puzo’s writing style instead of how the original “GODFATHER” has been made.

When I feel that I can do this kind of film with my eyes closed is when “SHIVA 2006” kind of flopbusters happen.

With “RAKTA CHARITRA” for the first time in my career I am working under a mental state of an enormous respect for the characters I am dealing with and a very heartfelt concern for the emotional traumas these people went through in their real lives. This is not only in the context of the principal characters Ravi and Suri but it is also for the people who killed for them and the people who got killed by them.

When I first got some details about the inside story of the Ravi-Suri conflict in a chance conversation with someone who knew them very well I was shocked that something like this can ever happen anywhere in the world.

Fair enough that a battle for supremacy happens everywhere in the world and in a much larger scale compared to the so-called Rayalaseema factionism but what was stunning for me here is the sheer drama which happened around them which was part built by they themselves and part built by the situations around them.

When I started my research on the subject matter I wanted to know answers to questions like, what kind of people are they who can actually hack somebody with axes and sickles in cold blood. What kind of people seemingly do not mind killing scores of innocent people just to get their intended target? What kind of people are they, whose sole point in life is to kill someone in revenge and in that process they themselves don’t mind dying? I wanted to know what gives them that kind of courage, conviction and also such intense madness.

In this quest I met scores of people who were both directly and indirectly related to the said people and the events.

Apart from meeting Paritala Ravi’s family and the people who worked with him, I also met the naxalites who were with Ravi in the days of his hiding. I met Suri and his people in Anantpur Central Jail and I also met people who were associated with Suri at various times and stages of his life. I met Police Officers who were involved in the investigations against their crimes. I even managed to meet one of the men who hacked Ravi’s arch rival Obul Reddy to death.

From all the above interactions apart from gathering material I needed for the film what I really got is a tremendous understanding of a human beings psychological aspects, his compulsions, his vulnerabilities, his responsibilities, his loyalties, his betrayals and above all his own personal ego in such extreme situations.

People ask me if “RAKTA CHARITRA” will be a true story and I tell them that it is a true story in my perception. The reason I say this is that the events which happened in such secrecy when told by the various concerned and related people after such a long time are bound to have different perspectives not to mention their individual agendas. So for me as a neutral guy I have to read and understand in between the lines so as to conclude on what could be the nearest truth from my perception. So in the process of getting closest to the truth I became a journalist to a detective to a psycho analyst.

“RAKTA CHARITRA” for me is not only a career defining film but it is going to be a life changer for me as I know that I can never be the same again in my life with the kind of insights I have developed into the hitherto unknown recesses of such extreme human beings who were shaped thus by even more extreme events.

I have never known as much drama ever as there is in “RAKTA CHARITRA” from all my previous knowledge of books, movies, people etc, and this additional growth in me is going to surely erase my history of filmmaking.

I truly believe that both me and my films will never be the same again after “RAKTA CHARITRA”.

There are some people who say that the Telugu film industry can be divided into pre-RGV and post-RGV and I think RGV will be divided into pre-Rakta Charitra and post-Rakta Charitra.