Tamil audiences know filmmaker Ram Gopal Varma from his earlier dubbed films like Rattha Charithram and Naanthandaa. The director, along with his team, including Lisa Ray, Sachin Joshi, Sandeep Bharadwaj and Usha Jadhav, was in the city recently to promote his ambitious project on the dreaded forest brigand Veerappan, titled Villadhi Villain Veerappan in Tamil.
In a candid interview to DC, Ramu (as he is fondly called) tells us about the idea of doing a film on Veerappan, his controversial tweets and why he is not keen on directing a commercial film, and more.
No parallel to Veerappan:
For me, the persona of Veerappan always haunted me during the late 90s, when I was shooting somewhere in the jungles of Mudhumalai for one of my films. I was really fascinated by the way an ordinary man walked around in chappals with a double barrel gun in his hands —did not even have an organisation or any resources — but still was so prevalent in two states for several years!
Though I have made films on larger-than-life rebellious characters, I couldn’t see a parallel to Veerapan and there was no one who was more unique than him. I was not sure as to how I could portray his spirit on screen. Back then, it didn’t materialise, though!
On Villadhi Villain Veerappan:
I later met a few officers who were involved in Veerappan’s muder, the dacoit’s wife Muthulakshmi, their family, mediators to Veerappan and other associates of the Operation Cocoon. To sit through the collective materials and connect the loose ends and dots, it took me a lot of time! That’s why I am giving a disclaimer as ‘Truth as I know of it’.
This film will depict the last two years of Veerappan’s life. Key scenes including actor Rajkumar’s kidnapping have been portrayed only in montages and not as main scenes! I have projected the highhandedness of the cops with respect to torturing women as well as exposed a few politicians in the film. But nothing will go against the facts documented by the police.
The forest brigand’s plan of kidnapping Superstar:
One of my sources had revealed this to me while I was researching for the film. According to the source, Veerappan was publicity-hungry and when he kidnapped Kannada matinee idol Rajkumar, he got national-level publicity and even BBC carried the news. He wanted to capture bigger names and in 2004, he wanted to kidnap Rajinikanth sir as he was the biggest star in India! I can’t reveal the name because I feel it’s unethical if I do so.
About his controversial remarks on social networking sites:
I am a filmmaker and I am here to promote and get publicity for all the films I make. Similarly, I express my opinion and respond to situations on Twitter. I just say what I feel. It is actually an extension of my personal self!
No Tamil films in the pipeline:
Yes, I don’t want to make a film in a language which I am not familiar and comfortable with! But I feel enriched as a passionate cinema lover from my experience of making Villadhi Villain Veerappan, because I had the opportunity of delving into the most dangerous minds I have ever known.
No, I am not talking about Veerappan and his gang — they actually belong to the people who killed him!...