Okay you hate Ram Gopal Varma. He is the ‘culprit’ who dared to ‘soil’ our ‘Sholay’ with that awful ‘Ram Gopal Varma Ki Aag’. He is the one who made silly films like ‘Agyaat’, ‘Phoonk 2’, ‘Satya 2’, Department (Yup, such films do exist, Wikipedia yourself). He is a filmmaker who has ‘lost it’ and doesn’t deserve to be in ‘our’ film industry. Done with the ranting? Now can we begin?
‘Guns & Thights’, penned by ‘Khud Gabbar’, i.e. Ram Gopal Varma, chronicles the story of a good-for-nothing video cassette library owner, who tricked his way up to direct a Telugu film starring Nagarjuna and make his debut in the Hindi film industry (dare you say Bollywood!) with the phenomenal ‘Shiva’. The rest, as they say, is history, albeit gone astray for a while.
Well, there are two extremes about Ram Gopal Varma – He can either make a great film or a worst film, he’s no in-betweener – the tribe he ably describes in his chapter, ‘The inbetweenists’. He talks straight, without mincing his words. He won’t lick the boots to pave his way to success. He is an avowed atheist to the core. He would prefer celebrating achievements than a mere date when one ‘happens’ to be born, so he hates celebrating birthdays. The book, ‘Guns & Thighs’ make no bones about reiterating these well-known facts about the filmmaker who changed the way our cinematographers placed their cameras.
“We live the life of others when we read their thoughts” The book begins with this Ayn Rand quote, which kind of sums up what’s in store for the reader. A director’s biography need not be about incidents, but his thoughts and ideas. The incidents here merely happen to be the backdrop that stimulate his thought process, including rejection, politics within the industry, chance meeting of talented musicians and technicians, and even the demise of his father – each incident eventually finding its way to his films. This is precisely how a filmmaker’s biography deserves to be written.
The key highpoint of the book is ‘My gods’ – where reams of pages are solely dedicated to Amitabh Bachchan, Sridevi, and AR Rahman. The ‘You’re only as good as your last film’ narrates an incident of the legendry filmmaker Basu Chatterjee, ‘the biggest flop of my life’, and the filmmaker’s divorce and words to his daughter are sure to leave a lump in your throat. The insights on cinema and an interesting lust-laden chapter on ‘Rifle’, a construction worker, ‘My marriage to the underworld’ make for an interesting read.
It doesn’t matter whether you like Ram Gopal Varma or you loathe at his films, the fact remains that his biography is as honest as, at the risk of sounding blasphemous, Mahatma Gandhi’s ‘My experiments with truth’. The filmmaker who gave us gems like ‘Shiva’, ‘Satya’, ‘Company’, ‘Kaun, ‘Rangeela’, ‘Bhoot’, ‘Sarkar’, ‘Mast’, ‘Nishabd’, ‘The attacks of 26/11’ and Rakta Charitra series (Yup, they’re equally brilliant films), surely deserves a brownie point for writing an honest biography. Well, to sum it up, ‘Guns & Thighs’ is about cinematic highs.
PS: The pic has been taken by yours truly, as a lame tribute to the famous/infamous ‘RGV angle’