“In this film, there are no songs, no comedy, no family functions, no great clothes, no good locations, no exotic sets. All elements which conventional, commercial, formula films have, they are not there. After that if you want to see it, it is your call.”
Any other person doing such shoddy marketing for a film would have been guillotined. But then this is Ramgopal Varma aka Ramuji aka RGV. And when it is RGV, there are no rules. And if there are, they are meant to be flouted.
However, usually, in Varma’s kingdom, also called `Factory’, the mercurial producer-director makes his own rules.
`Rakht Charitra‘, like many of Ramu’s earlier films, is a biographical movie, based on the rivalry between Paritala Ravi, a gangster politician from Andhra Pradesh’s Rayalaseema region and Suri, who had sworn revenge against him. Ravi, who was made a minister by N T Rama Rao, was killed in January 2005, allegedly by Suri’s men.
As the name suggests, it is a violent tale of revenge, with the film posters quoting the Mahabharata : “Revenge is the purest emotion.” My friend Madhavan Narayanan wonders if that is Ramu’s way of telling that he is going to inflict some on the audience.
Madhavan is not alone to harbour such fears. Especially after Ramu’s train of superflops like `Rann’, `Darling’, `Naach‘ and `RGV ki Aag’.
I sometimes wonder if there are a Ram aur Shyam within RGV. Because when you hear Ramu speak with such eloquence on cinema, you would wonder why this brilliant student of the art form lapses into periods when he fails in virtually every subject. Almost as if his films have been `fixed’.
That Ramu is extremely intelligent and sharp, is visible in films like `Shiva’, `Satya’ and `Company‘. Even a `Rangeela‘. A certain honesty of purpose can be seen in the trademark Varma camerawork that captured a range of emotions and moods.
But his 20-20 like penchant for producing a film almost every other month cost his creativity dear. Yes he did make a `Sarkaar’ but that was like a once-in-a-blue moon ODI half century. An out-of-form Varma was more in the news for his silly tweet and blog battles with the likes of Karan Johar. And of course, the tour of the Taj post 26/11 with the Deshmukhs, chief minister dad and actor son.
Given Ramu’s penchant to make films on real people and real events, it was assumed he was doing a recce for his next venture. Varma overnight turned into a hate figure, with TV news channels circling him in slow-mo, almost as if he had plotted the carnage with Kasav and gang. No wonder RGV calls the media “the biggest factionists”.
`Rakht Charitra’ gives Ramu 13 hours in three languages to redeem himself. In fact, in many ways, life has come full circle for this celebrated filmmaker. Ramu, a Hyderabad and Vijayawada boy, started his career with Telugu films in 1989. He returns to his janmabhoomi to spin a story of betrayal and revenge.
For the sake of his fans, one hopes Ramu is in top form in `Rakht Charitra’. It wouldn’t look nice if they meted out the same treatment they did to `Ram Gopal Varma ki Aag‘, which since 2007 has remained the sole benchmark for any rank bad film.
If `Rakht Charitra‘ turns out to be a bloody red dud, betrayal and revenge would acquire new meanings then.
Alternately, Shatrughan Sinha, who plays NTR in the film, will have to say “Ramu, Khaamosh”.