Varma on to third multiple-plot horror film

Apr 28, 2006 Subhash K. Jha

Mumbai, April 28 (IANS) "Why not?" the prolific Ram Gopal Varma shoots back when you ask him why he needed to make one more multiple-story horror feature "Darna Zaroori Hai" after the failure of "Darna Mana Hai".

"Why should that be a deterrent? There are a hundred action films and love stories made each year. If one of them doesn't do well it doesn't mean everyone stops making films in those genres," Varma told IANS in an interview.

And he actually drops a bomb.

"I am starting my third multiple-story horror film 'Darna Mangta Hai' in July. It will again be something totally different from 'Darna Mana Hai' and probably 'Darna Zaroori Hai' too if it doesn't work.

"To think 'Darna Zaroori Hai' is anything like 'Darna Mana Hai' is as misleading as to think 'Nishabd' is 'Lolita' just because my film is about a relationship between an older man and a very young girl.

"'Nishabd' is not 'Lolita' at all... just like 'Darna Zaroori Hai' isn't 'Darna Mana Hai Part 2'," Varma retorted. He has just finished shooting Mohit Ahlawat's re-launch vehicle "Shiva" and is about to direct Amitabh Bachchan in the unusual "Nishabd".

Varma says he has rectified all the errors from the earlier six-storied shriek-scraper.

"I think 'Darna Mana Hai' was a very original concept. But there was confusion about all the stories having one end. The various directors and me were not clear about what genres the stories were to be pitched in. The attempt was to correct the mistakes and make 'Darna Zaroori Hai'.

"I think the stories weren't scary enough the first time. The stories featuring Aftab Shivdasani and Shilpa Shetty didn't work. This time I have taken care to create constant scare. One deterrent in enjoying a horror film is its length.

"In hindsight I feel 'Darna Mana Hai' and 'Kaun' were too long. 'Kaun' would have been just 45 minutes long. I want to make my next release, Chekravarthy's situational comedy 'Darwaza Band Rakho', only 90 minutes long."

Varma admits to being a major horror short-story buff.

"I love the horror genre. I used to love the short stories by Hitchcock... The horror genre stretches the imagination. It also stretches the filmmaker's ability to tell a story using optimum technical devices like sound effects.

"If you make a horror film within a reasonable budget, it is bound to work. People said 'Bhoot' wouldn't connect with people. But it did. The idea is to make what I want to make, and make it cost-effective."

Henceforth, the various storytellers in the "Darna" series will be selected through an all-India contest.

"I want to make it a kind of series. And I'll need a team to help me select stories. Yes, we'll have a contest to select the stories and directors. And no it doesn't matter whether 'Darna Zaroori Hai' works or not. I'll still do 'Darna Mangta Hai'. The idea is to continue making what I want to. My failures and successes are more visible because of my volume of work."

Luckily, all the big stars in "Darna Zaroori Hai" - from Amitabh to Mallika Sherawat - agreed to be part of the film within Varma's cost-effective plans.

"Everyone did it for the love of the project. Money was never a consideration."

Varma now intends to keep the "Darna..." series going.

"I'll make six stories once or twice a year, depending on how many stories I get. I pick my directors by instinct. It is a fallacy that directors are blessed people. As long as you have a passion for cinema you can direct a film."

Varma's production house hasn't released a film in the last six months.

"I just wanted to get our office The Factory in place. The biggest mistake I made in the past was to force my vision on directors who worked for me. I'd give them a story and ask them to make the film.

"For 'Darna Zaroori Hai' I asked the directors to come up with the stories. At least 40 directors came to me. These included Vivek Shah, who had never worked with me. Sajid Khan, who had never directed a film, came up with another interesting story. Manish Gupta, the writer of 'Sarkar', has done one.

"But they have all come up with segments that look as competent as the one I have personally directed featuring Bachchan and Riteish Deshmukh."

Everyone from the experienced Varma to the complete novice Sajid Khan looks equally accomplished. All the directors were given complete autonomy.

"I was only involved with the final cut. The audience will have difference of opinion on the content level. But in terms of execution all the stories look equally good. You'll be surprised by how much talent is visible.

'My favourite in 'Darna Zaroori Hai' is the story featuring Randeep Hooda directed by Chekravarthy. You have to see how Randeep has performed as a man possessed."

Speaking of the episode Varma has directed, he said: "I take a great pride in the story because I thought there was nothing left for Bachchan to perform. But to get him to give expressions that he has never given... I don't remember seeing him express fear on screen. The story is bizarre -- they all are.

"I am grateful to Bachchan for not thinking I have gone completely wacko. There are bouts of humour in the storytelling. But half the time you don't know whether to be scared or giggle. None of the stories have titles, by the way. So they have to be identified by the actors."

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