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Biography

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Overview (2)

Date of Birth 7 April 1962Hyderabad, India
Nickname Ramu

Mini Bio (1)

Ram Gopal Varma was born in Hyderabad, the capital city of the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. He initially was a video store owner before eventually becoming one of India's leading film directors. A film buff during his youth, Varma would watch both American and Indian cinema regularly. As a young man, he attended Siddhartha Engineering College in Vijayawada. Varma started his career in telugu cinema (the Hyderabad film industry), where he made a huge mark with his debut film Shiva, a violent and stylized actioner set in a college backdrop. At the age of 28, with little film training, Varma was able to convince Nagarjuna, a young Telugu star, to act in his debut picture. Nagarjuna was drawn by the narration of the script and intelligence displayed by the young Varma. Shiva was a landmark hit for the industry and was remade by Varma in the hindi language a year later.

His next was the exciting adventure film, Kshana Kshanam, starring Venkatesh and Sridevi. Varma followed this up with such films as - Raatri, a homage to 'The Exorcist' starring Revati and Om Puri (which Varma would remake over a decade later in Hindi as Bhoot) and Antham, a stylized crime drama, with Nagarjuna and Urmila Matondkar (which Varma would also rework later as Satya) - but was not able to attain the commercial success of his first feature. His next release Gaayam, with Jagapathi Babu and Urmila Matondkar, was a violent crime drama set in Hyderabad. The screenplay was co-written by tamil film director Mani Ratnam, and the script based on 'The Godfather'. It became a success for Varma. He then decided to start his own production banner, Varma Corporation Limited, and produced successful telugu films such as Money (remade later as Love Ke Liye Kuchh Bhi Karega), Money Money (its sequel), Gulabi and Anaganaga Oka Roju.

His first huge success in hindi cinema (the Mumbai film industry) was the commercial blockbuster Rangeela, a stylish romantic drama with Aamir Khan and Urmila Matondkar. A.R. Rahman, a tamil music composer, was introduced to hindi audiences by Varma with this film and won the award for best film music.

Varma followed up with the ground breaking gangster saga Satya, a violent crime epic set in the Mumbai underworld. The film was gritty and realistic, reinventing the crime genre in Indian cinema. Varma had done extensive research for the film, and reworked certain elements of his earlier film Antham. Satya was widely considered Varma's first true masterwork. Made on a shoestring budget and with new faces, the film won awards for actor Manoj Bajpai and music composer Vishal Bharadwaj. Satya became a turning point in Varma's career, winning best picture of the year, and Varma would be forever associated with Mumbai noirs.

Varma then, with fellow director Shekhar Kapur, created a joint film production company in 1998 called India Talkies. The first venture of the production house was the ambitious terrorist drama 'Dil Se', with Shahrukh Khan and Manisha Koirala. The film was a box office dud, and India Talkies would be short lived. Varma would return to focusing on his own production house Varma Corp.

The hard hitting masterpiece 'Shool' followed shortly after, written and produced by Varma. The film depicted the life of an honest police officer in the violent and harsh rural setting of Bihar. The film was a commercial and critical success with both Manoj Bajpai and Sayaji Shinde winning awards for their performances. Varma lightened things up next with the romantic drama 'Mast'. The film was inspired by Varma's own college days, and featured Aftab Shivdasani in an award-winning turn as a film crazy college student.

Varma decided afterwards to only direct films in the Mumbai film industry. He believed there was more talent in Mumbai than in southern film cities like Chennai and Hyderabad. Varma had always admired directors such as Shyam Benegal, Govind Nihlani, and Gulzar. He considers Kalyug, Ardh Satya, and Mere Apne among his favorite Indian films of all time. At a time when popular Indian Cinema featured either over the top action films or glamorous love stories, Varma's films were more rooted and realistic. Varma is known to frequently cut out song and dance sequences in his films, which are usually commonplace in Bollywood. His films almost always deal with the contemporary and urban, usually set in the city of Mumbai. He often uses Indian stage actors in his films rather than established bollywood stars. Mainly known for creating the 'Mumbai noir', Varma brought psychological depth and cinematic virtuosity to genre films.

More recently, Varma returned with the organized crime masterpiece 'Company'. The film was again set in the Mumbai underworld, and was based on real life Underworld don Dawood Ibrahim and his criminal outfit D-Company. The film featured award-winning performances by Ajay Devgan, Vivek Oberoi and Manisha Koirala. The film also won awards for best editing by Chandan Arora and best story by Jaideep Sahni. The film was lauded by critics and audiences alike.

His latest release Naach, which Varma called his best film yet, was a largely self reflective piece, about the relationship between an idealistic choreographer and an ambitious actor. The film had a weak commercial run but was liked by critics. In a recent interview with the Indian Express newspaper, the filmmaker criticized Indian audiences saying "I gave Ayn Rand to a Municipal School."

He spends most of his time these days producing small budget films for his successful production house Varma Corp. Though not always credited, he is involved in all aspects of his productions, often believed to 'ghost direct' many of the films. He produces films at a fast speed that is unfamiliar to the Indian Film Industry. He has had many recent successes including - 'Ab Tak Chhappan', based on the experiences of famed Mumbai police Daya Naik, 'D', a prequel to his earlier hit Company based on the early years of Dawood Ibrahim during his days under Pathan underworld boss Karim Lala, 'Ek Hasina Thi', a female revenge thriller, and finally 'Road'. He has also produced lighter films such as 'Love Ke Liye Kuchh Bhi Karega' and 'Main Madhuri Dixit Banna Chahti Hoon'.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: SmokinGunZ (patekar@cooltoad.com)

Trivia (6)

Frequently casts Urmila Matondkar in his films - His first venture with Urmila was Drohi and since then he has directed 9 Hindi films out of which he has cast her in 7 of them (excluding the special appearence in 'Company')
Owned a video rental shop in the South Indian city Hyderabad before venturing into film-making.
The first film-maker from South India who carved his own place in Hindi films.
Majority of his films are either set in a jungle and/or involve the Bombay underworld.
His first ever movie Shiva which he made in Telugu, catapulted him into a potential and fine film-maker. Sadly, after he started doing hindi films, no one really knows that his first movie ever was Shiva.
Was producing a film titled " Nimmi" directed by Taufiq Ahmed. It was about a young girl trapped in a forest. He shelved the film. This was 2004.

Personal Quotes (6)

About Abhishek Bachchan: "He came in as Amitabh Bachchan's son, so the expectations were extraordinarily high. And then on top of all that he was made to do all those NRI films, which didn't suit him. But I think he is a very, very different actor from his father. Though there is a genetic likeness, their approach to a scene and mode of performance are remarkably different. Abhishek is extremely perceptive
  • his understanding of life is more contemporary than me or his dad's."



I don't think a writer or director can be credited with success. It all depends on timing. Shahrukh Khan is such a huge star because he's doing the films that suit him. I loved him in _Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge (1995)_, I think it's a very progressive film. Every star is a product of his time.
About Amitabh Bachchan: "Personally I don't like seeing him in a film like Black (2005). For me, he's a superstar - I'm not interested in seeing him as an actor, I want to see him larger-than-life. I'm not denying that he's a brilliant actor, but to me, his stardom is what his talent is all about. I think he's the only actor in Indian Cinema who can hold the camera without saying a word. He doesn't need camera props and technique to make him look magnetic. When he came, he grew on us. I didn't know who he was - then I saw him in Zanjeer (1973), _Deewar (1975)_and Sholay (1975)...his personality grew in my mind. If he'd followed up Zanjeer (1973) with Rajesh Khanna films, I doubt he'd be such a big star..."
About _The Godfather (1972)_: "What really fascinates me about _The Godfather (1972)_ is that it is more about power than about crime. It is about a powerful family which could be true of any family, be it a dictator or an industrialist."
About Sarkar (2005): "The film is not based on Bal Thackeray, but the similarities are there - Thackeray wields enormous power, has personal charisma and is trusted by lakhs of people. And it's no longer _The Godfather (1972)_, not really... The entire script has been changed. And apart from the two Bachchans, Amitabh and Abhishek, I've decided to cast new non-star faces from theater."
During my days as an engineering college student, I used to be a big fan of Sridevi's. I used to watch all her films on the first day, first show and had stuck her posters all over the walls of my room. And I had friends who were even more obsessed than I was. There was a guy who I remember used to actually talk to her posters. In those days we used to even have heated arguments about the kind of person that Sridevi really was. we would hate to read gossip columns because we had formed a picture - perfect image of her's in our minds and didn't like to read anything that went contrary to it. Mast is about the whole star-fan syndrome, inspired by my youthful obsession with Sridevi.

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