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The Films of Ram Gopal Varma - An Overview
Posted on 06.16.06 by David @ 9:44 am

Subway Cinema NYAFF 2006
(CSB correspondent Jeff also contributed to this article)

Ram Gopal VarmaRam Gopal Varma is unquestionably one of the most talented filmmakers working in India (or anywhere) today. In the last few years, RGV has been putting out some of the most consistently stylish, hard-hitting, and enjoyable gangster movies ever made. He has managed to break out of the traditional Bollywood mold - while some of his films feature the traditional musical numbers, many do not - while achieving popular and critical success, something once considered nigh unthinkable. In recent years, he has been directing his own films and producing a number of others directed by his proteges, making him in some ways the Bollywood equivalent of Hong Kong’s Tsui Hark or France’s Luc Besson. All these films bear his influence. Recently, he has been working with the greatest star of Bollywood cinema, Amitabh Bachchan. and is pegged to remake what many consider the greatest Bollywood film of all time, Sholay.

The New York Asian Film Festival is presenting the World Premiere of his latest film, Shiva, and staging a retrospective of several older films that he directed or produced, Company, Ab Tak Chhappan, and Ek Hasina Thi. For those who dismiss Indian films out of hand as musicals and melodramas, these films will prove you wrong so fast that your head will spin. Company and Ab Tak Chhappan in particular are first rate films that no true movie buff should miss. And who knows, maybe after you get your feet wet, you might be inspired to see some more traditional Bollywood fare, like DDLJ or Sholay.


Company (2002)
Directed by: Ram Gopal Varma
Rating: 4 out of 4 stars (great)

Company

Company is undoubtedly one of the best gangster films of this or any decade. RGV details the rise to power of two men; cold, business-oriented Malik (Ajay Devgan) and hot-headed street thug Chandu (Vivek Oberoi). The two combine to form a crime syndicate known only as the Company, and take over the streets of India before becoming a truly multinational conglomerate. Naturally, such good fortune cannot last. RGV’s vision here is both bleak and tremendously accomplished, and he pays his debts to the greats of the past with a couple of well-placed Scarface hommages. Company deservedly made Devgan and Oberoi enormous stars, but it also features a terrific ensemble cast that includes the sexy and strung-out looking Manisha Koirala in one of her most appealling roles. This is essential cinema.

Company

Ab Tak Chhappan (2004)
Directed by: Shimit Amin
Rating: 4 out of 4 stars (great)

Ab tak Chhappan

Ab Tak Chhappan is all about Nana Patekar. Patekar absolutely dominates the screen in the role of Sadhu, an “encounter” specialist (encounter is a Indian euphemism for missions in which police function as death squads, murdering members of the criminal underworld - Kaakha Kaakha is another excellent movie on the same subject). Sadhu is equally comfortable in the worlds of crime and the law, and controls both perpetrators and colleagues with fear and the constant threat of violence. He’s not glamorous, he does not need to be. Devgan and Oberoi are great in Company, but Patekar is the man I would not want to meet in a dark alley. Of all the films produced by RGV’s proteges, this one comes closest to upstaging the master.

Ab tak Chhappan

Ek Hasina Thi (2004)
Directed by: Sriram Raghavan
Rating: 2 out of 4 stars (average)

Ek Hasina Thi

This Varma-produced revenge flick’s biggest asset is committed performances from its stars, Urmila Matondkar and Saif Ali Khan. Urmila is a staple in Varma films and is one of the best actresses in Bollywood. Khan, who until very recently was known for playing sidekick roles in romantic comedies, seems to relish his role here as a very bad guy. The movie has some interesting parallels with Sympathy For Lady Vengeance, a film that was released a few years later, although this is a much pulpier film and not nearly as dark. A lot of people believe this is the best film Varma has produced (we here at CSB would give that honor to Ab Tak Chappan ).


Shiva (2006)
Directed by: Ram Gopal Varma

Shiva

Here at CSB, we cannot be more excited about the World Premiere of Varma’s latest directorial effort, Shiva, at the ImaginAsian on June 30. Interestingly enough, this is the third film Varma has directed to go by this title. Varma’s directorial debut, entitled Shiva, was a film in the Telegu language about a new college student who takes on a gang of politically connected thugs that also happen to be his classmates. Containing copious amounts of violence (as well an incredibly goofy song in which the characters weigh the relative merits of going to botany class or the movies), it was such a big success that Varma quickly remade the film in Hindi with the original cast, again calling it Shiva (this second version is available on DVD in widescreen with English subtitles). Varma’s latest version of Shiva is not a college tale, but rather takes place within a police force, so it will be interesting to see what similarities (thematic and plotwise) it has with its predecessors. At any rate, as the incredibly violent trailer evidences, the new Shiva is certain to be a very intense experience (and is highly unlikely to contain any songs about botany). Don’t miss this one.

Shiva

Those looking to further explore the world of Ram Gopal Varma have plenty of other options. Prior to Company, RGV directed the outstanding gangster rise-and-fall story Satya, which may even be a better film. More recently, he directed Amitabh Bachchan in the Godfather-influenced Sarkar. There is also his excellent prequel to Company, D, which Charlie has reviewed on CSB here. He has also taken a stab at directing horror with the Exorcist-tinged Raat and Bhoot. Raat has some funny moments but I can’t recommend either in good conscience - Bhoot in particular is a exercise in style over substance.


Related Links:
::: Cinema Strikes Back coverage of Ram Gopal Varma
::: Company Wallpaper
::: Official NYAFF 2006 Site
::: NYAFF Rundown on Kaiju Shakedown
::: CSB NYAFF 2006 Coverage

The New York Asian Film Festival 2006

::: Discuss this with others in the Movie Lounge Forum


Filed under: General and Movie News and Movie News: Bollywood and Contributors: David and Movie News: India and People: Ram Gopal Varma and Film Festivals: New York Asian Film Festival 2006 and Contributors: Jeff
Comments:

9 Comments »

  1. hello Sir, I m students n interested in Animation and Special Fx. Having dream of Making my own animated film. So plz advised me that what types of Software Should i learn very well for my future career. Thank you.

    Comment by Ravi.M.Solanki — June 24, 2006 @ 4:51 am


  2. i got inspired by ram gopal verma films ,i realy want to work with him,as my thoughts match with him,

    Comment by P.V. RAMAKRISHNARAJU — September 2, 2006 @ 6:42 am


  3. i think in our indian cinema we definately needed a real tough & intense looking hero rather then cute looking …mohit looks absolutely fit to fill that long gap.i would say he can be our rambo or vandamm

    Comment by sidharth — September 11, 2006 @ 11:24 am


  4. nirmal saini pyaar to hona hi tha hum dil de c….

    Comment by nirmal — September 21, 2006 @ 2:13 pm


  5. Since past 1 and half year i am in search of ramgopalvarma. a vision to meet him..i have travelled 900 miles…but one day i will be working with rgv company and that is for sure..

    Comment by vijendra bhambhani — September 7, 2007 @ 12:18 pm


  6. A correction: Guys, it’s Nana PATEKAR, not Nana PETAKAR.

    [Editors: Indeed — we’ve corrected it in the post, thanks for the catch!]

    Comment by A Correction — March 16, 2009 @ 12:07 am


  7. Hi, Sir,
    I am your fan, your are the best director entire the world I saw your first movie shiva many more times and i am waiting for your rakta charitra

    Comment by kishore — September 10, 2010 @ 11:20 am


  8. NICE INFORMATION

    Comment by santosh JAITALKAR — April 7, 2011 @ 4:09 am


  9. We enjoyed looking at your movies, need a change in the Actor you bring on board - how about making an excellent movie with SRK. We love his style and acting and a good speaker.

    Comment by Genny — April 7, 2011 @ 7:37 am


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