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Interview with Ram Gopal Varma
Date: August 23, 2007, Hyderabad
Ram Gopal Varma

Ram Gopal Varma is in Hyderbad today to promote his latest film ‘Ram Gopal Varma Ka Aag’ (a remake of Sholay). This film is also being released in Telugu as Aggi. met Ram Gopal Varma for an exclusive 1-1 interview. Here are the excerpts -

Is Aag a remake of Sholay?

Yes and No. Yes, because I have chosen the backdrop of cop hiring two guys to take revenge on a bad guy. No, because we have not taken any scene to scene inspiration for the film. Sholay is set against the backdrop of 1970’s. Aag is a contemporary film. There are certain elements in Sholay that we liked immensely. But the dynamics are changed today. I want to bring the same emotions with my Aag. This film captures the different time zone for the same theme.

How many times did you watch Sholay?
I watched it 27 times in four months of Sholay release in Rama Krishna 70mm. after that I watched it again innumerable times in videos and different theaters. It is done with extraordinarily strong esthetics. It is a formulaic film which has something for everybody. It was like a full thali. We stopped doing films like Sholay anymore. When I watched Sholay for the first time, I watched it from an audience perspective. For me it is like primary school. I watched the same film again and again as I started my way towards film industry. It is the most influential film for me.

How similar is Aag to Sholay compared to Sarkar to Godfather?
Aag to Sholay is much closer than Sarkar to Godfather.

Do you think a remake of Sholay works out now?
We have primarily three types of people as for as Sholay is concerned. The first group is the elder people who remember Sholay from scene to scene. The second group is the one who partly remembers Sholay. The third one is 12-25 age group who does not know about Sholay. Each of the group is going to watch the film from different perspective. How they like varies from individual to individual.

Don't you think remaking Sholay is a risky proposition?
There is a thin line between courage and stupidity. If film works out, people would say I am brave. If the film doesn't work out, people would comment that I am stupid. There is bound to be a negative effect if the film is bad. I am paying tribute to Sholay with my Aag film. I am going to show Sholay in different light.

Why a superstar like Amitabh Bachchan is cast in a negative role?
I don't think Gabbar Singh role is a negative role. If it is a negative role people would not have loved him. Gabbar Singh is an entertaining character and Amitabh Bachchan plays it.

How did you convince Amitab Bachchan to do this role?
I have developed a good association with Amitabh Bachchan while doing Sarkar. He liked my seriousness and passion towards filmmaking and signed on the dotted line.

Aag title sounds like 60’s title?
Yes. It is deliberate. We wanted the film to have retro feel.

There were lots of reports in media about churning of cast for Aag?
All of that is media fabrication.

What is the premise for Mehabooba song in Aag?
We have taken the signature tune from Sholay and remixed it for Aag. The situation is going to be same (Gabbar making an arms deal). But the choreography and setwork is going to be entire different.

Did Amitabh Bachchan watch the film? How did he like it?
We lose judgment on the film, since we were involved in each and every scene of the film while making it.

When are you going to direct a Hollywood film?
I need to go to Hollywood and stay there for 7-8 months for this film. I am not finding time now. It would probably start in the middle of 2008.

What genre the film is going to be?
It will be a thriller.

Will it have any Indian background?
No. It will be a pure Hollywood flick in international standards.

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