pramod kumarwrote on Apr 26 2009 4:36PM
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.