For many, to this day Ram Gopal Varma AKA RGV remains a mystery.
The director is often known for his mindless and even tasteless comments on Twitter as well as now; Instagram.
Yet Ram Gopal Varma’s downfall began long before the rise of social media.
The once prolific director was meant to herald a change for Indian cinema; bogged down by archaic forms and genres.
Instead with his iconic Satya, he brought such a wave of change in 1998 that a genre was born from that film;
The genre which to this day is effectively carried forward by many who somehow or the other branched out from the mad mind of RGV himself.
Yet the man himself, remains a hollow shell or more like an unsolvable rubix cube.
Where did he lose his way?
RGV Through Time
Films and Interviews can pin point it, but the self parody that RGV has turned into still refuses to reveal that final question.
Instead he has turned into a one of a kind filmmaker in our cinematic history.
Maybe that’s the point.
Maybe RGV had exhausted the stories he had to tell.
Instead maybe, just maybe; he decided to tell the story of a tragic downfall.
Maybe, his career failure is his greatest masterpiece.
Or maybe, it’s me and many like us;
Fans of Ram Gopal Varma.
Well not necessarily fans, but individuals who have grown up or watched many of the films that made the man a legend he isn’t today.
Instead for many, Ramu (as he is fondly known) is infamous for his remake of the iconic Sholay into the worst Hindi film of all time;
Go further ahead in time, and a younger generation can identify him as that washed up guy who takes potshots at their favorite celebrities.
For us, he is the man that made Satya.
That gave life to the career of Manoj Bajpai.
That built the myth of Bikhu Matre; the Mumbai ka King!
Yet for most ingrained into the passionate world of cinema, Ramu goes beyond just Satya;
RGV Beyond Satya:
Don’t go by his latest film.
The stilted and awkward;
Meri Beti Sunny Leone Banna Chahti Hai.
Ram Gopal Varma was once a far more accomplished filmmaker, key word is; was.
As such Satya his most iconic tale is remembered among them, but there were many more.
Made in 1989 as a Telugu film and remade in Hindi two years later;
Siva or Shiva was RGV’s big screen debut that proved this was a filmmaker well aware of the ground realities of India today.
He was the next step, in the evolution of parallel cinema.
The film dealt with the nexus of Mafia involved in student politics and launched Nagarjuna as a hero across Indian cinema.
It was just the auspicious start a radical like Ramu needed.
Taking Hindi cinema by storm, Ramu’s eccentric style would attract the eyes of one Aamir Khan as well as then superstar Jackie Shroff.
However RGV had eyes for only one person; his muse Urmila Matondkar.
Capturing the free spirited sexuality of Milli [Matondkar] on screen, Ramu created the cult classic Rangeela.
In his own twisted way, Ram Gopal Varma made a delicious and touching romantic-comedy;
Proving his abilities as a master of genres.
The film boasts perhaps Khan’s finest performance to date. It brought Urmila into the limelight.
And it also achieved such heights, that it was later remade in Hollywood.
But probably the greatest gift was that the film was the Hindi debut of a little known musician; A.R. Rahman!
Mixing the madness of Rangeela’s comedy and his passions for crime and criminals;
Ramu returned with favorite Urmila to bring the underrated Daud.
The crime caper saw Sanjay Dutt and Urmila in a fun filled film that while doesn’t have the kind of status his other works do but holds a place of love for many.
It’s take sweet time, but Daud has found the appreciation it craved when it flopped on release.
In fact as time becomes less kind to RGV, Daud is fondly remembered.
The film would also feature a small cameo by Manoj Bajpayee.
As mentioned earlier, he would later make a splash in RGV’s next; Satya!
Growing bolder with his success, RGV decided to experiment with the one room thriller;
A film written by a fresh Anurag Kashyap.
Kaun featured Urmila Matondkar once more in the lead role.
She turned the film around her head, with a performance that reminds us why she was an underrated gem of a terrible era of simply pretty looking heroines.
Kaun is a lovely battle of psychological wits that sadly remains in the shadows of RGV’s post-Satya career.
For a man known for being so unconventional in his cinematic journey.
What could be more experimental?
Yet with Mast, RGV not only takes up the challenge of making such a film;
He does so in his inimitable fashion.
Subverting the genre on its head, RGV created Mast with Aftab Shivdasani and Urmila once more.
Turning the Rangeela formula on its head to make a sweet tale that moved as much as brought a smile to everyone’s face.
Genius was the word then thrown around.
Paying homage to Govind Nihalani’s hard hitting Ardh Satya
(An iconic Parallel film in its own right)
Ramu gave us Shool.
He had portrayed a gangster but now Bajpayee got to put on the uniform and play a cop fighting his very system.
In a powerful turn along with the skilled Raveena, Varma brought out a politically charged film that unfortunately isn’t as loved as many of its kind.
In fact the film also featured a young Nawazzudin Siddiqui as a junior artist.
Another talent whose roots lie in RGV.
The second in a trilogy of crime films.
Company followed the path of Satya but with even a far more mesmerizing look see into the Mumbai underworld.
The film dared to go where many had not, proving the maverick genius of RGV.
Company launched the career of a one time star; Vivek Oberoi and brought to a global audience the prowess of Mohanlal.
It’s the narrative that it told however that sticks, detailing the true incidents that brought dreaded Dawood against Chohta Rajan and thus built the D Company!
Known mostly as the last great Ram Gopal Varma film;
The moody horror Bhoot would be the final in a streak of genius that was Ramu.
Since then, the director has faltered apart from the occasional spark such as Sarkar.
Yet Bhoot, an atmospheric horror film was the last stand.
As well as being his first real foray into horror;
Bhoot heralded a sudden change in the filmmakers demeanor, that saw him become the parody he is today.
The reason for RGV’s constant failure since will remain as a mystery.
Where did the man go wrong?
A question that might not haunt him, but does his legions of former fans and cinema lovers.
His works, influenced by equally controversial greats; have also influenced other as well.
Many such, owe in some part their careers to him.
But Ramu himself floats away like a whisper in the wind.
History, at least one that is current will sadly remember RGV as that crazy man on twitter.
His sexist comments, ill timed statements on people and idiotic cinematic pieces will stick to him forever.
So as better people and lovers of the movies; let’s not forget the good and not just Satya.
Let’s remember the RGV that changed the face of cinema;
For better or worse.