"Once you get a germ of an idea to do the film, it does not mean that you can start shooting next month."
Maverick filmmaker Ram Gopal Varma’s last film NISHABD did not set the cash registers ringing- but he is not looking back. He is fast getting ready with two of the most ambitious projects of his career- RAMU KE SHOLAY and SARKAR 2. In an interview with correspondent Vickey Lalwani, he talks about both the films and more…
You did many changes in the cast until you actually started your SHOLAY? Yes. But that happens. Once you get a germ of an idea to do the film, it does not mean that you can start shooting next month. I had been nursing the thought of making SHOLAY since many years.
To begin with, you wanted Abhishek Bachchan in Veeru's role? Yes. But then I thought that how could I show Amitabh (who plays Gabbar Singh) fight with Abhishek?
Why did your second choice Saif Ali Khan not happen? I was supposed to start the film in a certain time period when Saif had to be out of the country for some other work. I didn't get into beyond a phone call with him. Once I knew that he was not available, I moved on. Plus, the script was different in those days. When Mr Bachchan fell ill, I made some changes in the script about one month before we went on the floors.
Did you make those changes to reduce Mr Bachchan's action scenes? No. It's just that the script kept evolving. And I must say that I was amused during that period when people started saying that my SHOLAY was shelved. Use the word 'shelved' only when the film has gone on floors and then stopped.
How is the newcomer Prashant shaping up in Jai's role? The very fact that I cast him is because I believe that he is talented. As for how he has shaped up in Jai's role, I think that I'll leave for the viewers to decide.
Did you replace Katrina Kaif with Sushmita Sen in Radha's role because of her English accent? The Radha in my SHOLAY has more to speak than the Radha in Ramesh Sippy's SHOLAY, but I didn't replace Katrina for her English accent. I had spoken to Katrina on SHOLAY nearly two-and-half years back. The change in script, which I explained earlier, had Sushmita suiting the role more than Katrina.
Ajay Devgan plays Veeru's character, which had a lot of comic touch to it. Does Ajay suit that role? The basic point is that how I interpret his role in the context of the film. It is up to the writer and director to note an actor's strengths and mould his role accordingly. Without knowing what that sensibility is, it is premature to debate whether Ajay can do comedy or not (pauses).
Go on... Everybody has an opinion on my SHOLAY without knowing anything about what I am making (smiles).
Sarkar was Godfather. Is Sarkar 2, Godfather 2? Sarkar was Godfather, but Sarkar 2 is not Godfather 2.
Ramesh Sippy is upset with you for making SHOLAY. What will you tell him if you bump into him in a party? Aap asli hai, main naqli hoon.
We heard, the Delhi Court has issued a stay on the title Ram Gopal Varma Ke SHOLAY and now wants you to take the title Ramu Ka Gabbar Singh? I really can't talk on this. The matter is subjudice.
Won't you be disappointed if you don't get the word 'SHOLAY' in the title? I won't be disappointed.
Even Jaya Bachchan and Hema Malini are not happy that you are making SHOLAY. They made their displeasure evident on Koffee with Karan? Even Dharamji said that if Ramu doesn't do a good job, I’d push Ramu off from a tank. Everybody is speculating. First let them see my film and then say whatever they want to.
You think that Jaya should have told Amitabh not to act in your SHOLAY if she doesn't like the fact that you remaking it? That's their family matter. Why should I have my take on that?
What makes you make SHOLAY? In 70s, Ramesh Sippy epitomized the commercial cinema with SHOLAY, which has been the most interesting film I have seen in my life. I want to recapture that in today's times.
Some people also say that Ramu has gone crazy. A controversial subject like NISHABD, now a remake of the greatest film of Hindi cinema... (Interrupts) It's okay. Even I say that a certain filmmaker has gone crazy if I don't like his film.
How did you think of casting Aishwarya Rai Bachchan in Sarkar 2? You will see Ash playing something that is very different from what people expect of her. It's not a glamorous role at all. Sarkar 2 is a very intense and rustic film.
Ash won't have any make-up? Ash looks most beautiful when she is without make-up. See her at home and you'll know what I mean. She was my first choice for Sarkar 2.
Its' also said that you are obsessed with Bachchans? Yes, I am obsessed with Bachchans. As a director, I love to work with Amitabh and Abhishek. But let me tell you that I had approached Ash for Sarkar 2 much before her relationship with Abhishek intensified and became public.
What's happening to your collaboration with Pritish Nandy on making films on sex? It was an interesting idea at that point of time. Right now, I am busy with other commitments. I don't know when we'll start.