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Decoding the RGV Phenomena — December 16, 2010

Decoding the RGV Phenomena

I have been out of the circuit for a bit now and the only reason for that was lack of inspiration – I did not wish to blog for the heck of it and I found myself short on interesting ideas or thoughts worth thinking aloud!

Not very long ago in a beautiful city of the western part of India, a group of college going students were having a tea-time conversation about movies, entertainment… basically anything to keep their minds off the next assignment/project. I vividly remember those sunny afternoons – how everytime the name RGV (Ram Gopal Varma, for the uninitiated) came up, there would be a collective murmur – “Oh! he is good”… “His movies you just can’t miss”… “They have so much meaning… and they are so different from the rest”

The verdict was clear!

In an era when most movies banked on big budgets, foreign locales, big stars, crappy story-lines… RGV had the guts to make movies that an average movie-goer wanted to watch… No over-the-top drama… No star power to take away the limelight from the subject… Just pure entertainment… His name started being associated with movies that were sure to entertain you… Anyone who grew up in late 90s, watching Rangeela, Satya, Kaun and then progressing to the early 2000s that marked the cinematic brilliance of Company and Sarkar, would vouch for the phenomena and the rage that RGV had become! A power to be reckoned by!

And then… it hit…

He decided to remake Sholay. This was a bad idea to more reasons that one:

  • Sholay being an epic, is deeply imbibed in every Indian’s heart.
  • Scene-by-scene, dialogue-by-dialogue, the epic was a legend, with each character being a legend in itself. Creating it and being able to re-create the magic was a humongous task
  • Any kind of “twists” and “turns” added to the original story-line may not go down that well with the lovers of “Sholay”
  • Huge dearth of the actors of the calibre of initial star-cast!

From the time I heard, RGV had made some drastic changes to the original script, making it more modern, I knew this was a recipe for trouble! If he pulls it off, it will be a raging success, else a colossal mess. And thats what happened! To date, RGV ki aag is voted as the biggest disaster of the millenium. I refuse to believe that a man of his calibre, could not see the disaster he was concocting. Then the next question is why did he still go ahead with it? Was he too arrogant to even notice the blunders? Or was he left with no choice? Or was he so self-obssessed that it clouded his thinking? What were the actors like Amitabh Bachchan and Ajay Devgn thinking?

Well, the movie came and went… and on its way out, it took something a lot more important than just one movie – The credibility of the name RGV in the minds of an average Indian. That was the beginning of the end of an era of wise decisions! He tried his previous formulas again, tried hard to re-surrect his career… but nothing worked! The very premise that had identified RGV as being “different” from an average Indian film-maker was gone! wooosh!

Fastforward to 2010 – Nearly 15 years after Rangeela was released, RGV is now a sad butt of all jokes. From being an example of all things that a film-maker should do, he metamorphosed into an example of all things that a film-maker should not do!

All I have to say, in the end… RGV, let us remember you by all the good movies you created and not the blots on Indian cinema.