Ram Gopal Varma
Upala KBR (DNA; June 20, 2017)

Of late, Ram Gopal Varma has been in the news more for his shocking statements than his films, which have been going out of theatres without even a whimper — like Sarkar 3. The director is now working on a web series, Guns And Thighs, and a short film, Meri Beti Sunny Leone Banna Chaahti Hai for his YouTube channel. He’s also mostly in the news for trolling young actors like Tiger Shroff, making berating comments at Sridevi, taking on Karan Johar (yawn) and quitting Twitter. Here, he explains why he does all that he does. Read on...

Why did you quit Twitter?
I enjoy that I can provoke or irritate somebody enough to react so strongly with whatever I have said or done. The reason I left Twitter was because I felt it had become predictable — the way I said things and people reacted. I thought I should change the medium and get on Instagram, where I could push myself to comment through pictures and videos rather than just saying a line or two.

If I said in a tweet, ‘There’s no difference between an engineer, doctor, pornstar and a housewife’, they would have collapsed on me. But the same content in a video called Meri Beti Sunny Leone Banna Chaahti Hai, (MBSLBCH) obviously would be taken in a very different way.

Why did you make MBSLBCH?
There is a female tennis player, whose father didn’t let her practise it beyond a certain age because she had to wear short skirts. You are using a woman’s sexuality against her choice, which is suppression. Meri Beti... is demonstrating the upper limit of the mindset. In India, we have an ex-porn star in mainstream cinema and nobody has a problem. On the one hand, you are conservative and on the other, you are liberal. Then there’s the mindset to suppress the same thing in your own house. I think there’s an incredible contradiction. Telling the story of a girl from a conservative, middle-class family who wants to be a pornstar, and is in discussion with her parents in the living room — that’s my attempt to bring it out in the open, to discuss the issue.

What if your daughter wants to become a porn actress?
Just because she’s my daughter, I don’t consider myself to be her master to order her on what she should do or should not do in her life. Whether my daughter wants to be a doctor, engineer, pornstar, pilot, soldier or a radical terrorist, it’s her choice. At best, I can advise or inform her from my experience but the choice and decision has to be hers. Truth is, no girl, no girl in her realistic sensibilities would want to do porn. Let alone try to convince her parents!

Please continue
The film is not about Sunny Leone, but using her as an example. In fact, Meri Beti… has got more hits than my trailer of Guns And Thighs. It is the first family film I made in my career. It’s about family issues between parents and children and their career choices. This is my Hum Aapke Hain Koun..!

Guns And Thighs have evoked some shocking reactions. Also, from Amitabh Bachchan. Comment.
I am not shocked by these reactions. People have not accepted that the digital world is a separate world from cinema. It is not pertaining to a region unlike cinema or language like Hindi, Telugu, Bengali etc. Narcos is being made in Columbia and people in South India are watching it — people who have never heard the word Columbia in their lives or that the country exists. Even Mr Bachchan’s first thought was, ‘Ramu, I don’t think Indian audiences will accept it.’ There is no such thing as an Indian, Pakistani or Saudi Arabian audience on the web. It will only connect to those people who have that sensibility and that could be anywhere in the world.

Why web series?
You can tell stories for an extended time or very short time depending on what the story is.

Looking back, do you think Sarkar 3 could have been a better film?
Anything could be better. Post analysing a film after the result has come out doesn’t make any sense. Once a film didn’t work, it’s best to leave it at that. Films are vague in terms of sensibilities and how people react to them. If I talk to 10 people, they will give me 10 different reasons why it didn’t do well and I will never know what happened.

What angers you?
Nothing upsets me. I never get angry about anything. I believe that everybody does things from their ability and their own perspective, so no one is ever really wrong. I am the person who angers people so I don’t have time to get angry! (laughs)

Why do you have a bed in your office?
I feel the place that you work in should be an extension of your own personality — what you believe in and like. Should any person come here even if he has never met me, just by the décor of the office he would already know what kind of person I am. My resume is in the office decor. I never thought of it as a bed. People want to see it as a bed (i) so the obscenity is in their eyes and not in the object there.

What do you have to say to people who ask, “Where has the real Ramu gone”?
I have answered this question many times, but what I have realised is that people never listen because they have already made up the answer in their heads. They are comfortable saying, ‘Ramu has lost it!’ And I don’t want to disappoint them, so yes, I think that is what has happened to me — I have lost it (laughs).

People ask why RGV can’t make another Rangeela or Company today…
People say it as a reaction to their impression of those films. Recently, I went through Francis Ford Coppola’s IMDB biography and I was shocked to see that he made some 40 films out of which I don’t know some 30. Now if someone tells Coppola why don’t you make Godfather again, as if he doesn’t know that… (laughs).

You seem to be an enigma…
I don’t think it’s easy to know me but people have made up their minds. I would like to believe that I have changed. If I look back at some earlier films of mine, I wonder how the hell did I make that film? Or how could I have fallen in love with that person? A lot of people like Company lot. I don’t like that film at all because today I have much more knowledge of the subject compared to what I had at that time, so I compare it to that.

Where will MBSLBCH air?
We haven’t decided on the platform, but right now I am making it for my YouTube channel called RGV Talkies and GAT will be the first one there. All the digital films I make, will be released there. As far as monetisation is concerned as long as there is some kind of product, there will be some revenue coming in. We will be doing partnership deals and associating with other places.

How do you keep getting funding?
First of all, anybody gets funded for a good idea. Nobody sees anybody’s face and gives money, na? Of course, unless you are an actor. Eventually, it’s all about an idea. If you come with an idea and someone sees the potential in it, that’s how it happens.