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Happy Birthday, Ramu …And I Know The Satya About You



Ram Gopal Varma

I know Ram Gopal Varma  for  a longer time than I know almost anyone else  in the  film industry,except Shabana Azmi  and Sanjay Leela  Bhansali whom I  have been friends with from  much longer. These two apart, Ramu is  a friend who has come  many times .

We became friends soon after  Satya  was  released. Back then he  was seen as  the best thing to have  happened to Hindi cinema since  R D Burman. The whole industry was in awe the raw.Ramu couldn’t care less.  To him Satya was  just  another film which  acquired a super-cult status.  “I worked harder on  Daud  .And  look at  what happened  to that!”

In his  self-definition  of creativity Ramu is a true democrat.  To him there is  no difference between  Shiva ,Satya, Company , Kaun ,Bhoot  and Rangeela(without doubt  the  pillars  of  his  repertoire) and the  torrent  of wet blankets that   fell on us  from the  later part of his career: Aag, Phoonk,Darling, Not  A  Love Story, Department(this one wasted the Sanjay Dutt-Rana Daggubati  combination) and the  never-ending torrent of garbage which he has unleashed  on us for the past 15 years.

Ramu is  unstoppable. That  he makes movies is a mere coincidence. If he  were  manufacturing safetypins his output would be  just as prodigious. Ramu is  unstoppably  prolific. He will make   films for the big screen, small screen, phone screen..anything at all as long as he has a  story to tell. And he  will never run  out of stories  to tell. Ramu has a  genuinely healthy interest in the lives  of others.He   doesn’t probe into your private  affairs. But he  know what’s going  in others’ life.

There  is  lot that I find extremely annoying in Ramu. His  constant attempts to shock and stir up a controversy by needlessly needling  the  sacred cows. There is  no  way he can claim to be  unaware   of  the  affect  his shock talk  and  questionable  action would  have  on the  moral  police.  e knowingly  courts  controversies  by making  provocative statements.

 But there is one quality that makes  me  ignore all his failings. It is his respect for  women.In all the  years  that I’ve known  him I’ve  never   heard him talk cheaply  about  any women. His  name  has  been  linked  with  several actresses. But he has  never given me any reason to believe  he was  seeing  any actress  beyond the sets.

How  contrary  to the  derogatory tone  many filmmakers  employ to describe their leading ladies when  they think no one  is listening. I still flinch when  I remember  a hotshot producer describing a female  superstar as a  ‘raand’(whore).

I had shared this incident with Ramu. “Why would he call  her that?”  Ramu had wondered genuinely puzzled. I thought was such a decent thing to say. You  may have your own  opinion about Ram Gopal Varma, the filmmaker. You may think his cinema sucks,  and  you may be right.Ask him  if he cares!But  the  real Ramu is  nothing  like the films he makes.

As he turns a  year older, I  remember  his  old  birthday  refrain , ‘What is  so happy about your  birthday? It is  a reminder that  you are inching closer  to death.’

Ok then.

Ramu’s  words  of wisdom can  be as  repetitive  and  annoying as  his recent films. But  no one can deny his  unflinching  honesty. He knows he  can  never make another Satya. He isn’t  trying to.

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