Watching films endlessly is the only training he has had in his life. Ram Gopal Varma has a vision and belief about film making which he diligently puts into practice. He has been in the film industry for over a decade, and is known more for his idiosyncrasies and less for the large range of varied films he has made. He has never undergone any apprenticeship with a filmmaker; he has neither assisted any director nor done a course in filmmaking. He was an avid movie buff who graduated into movies by chance.
His maiden venture was Shiva, starring Nagarjuna in '89, a movie based on the frustrations and aspirations of a student leader. He immediately won national acclaim for this hard-hitting film. Next came a horror flick Raat, a chilling suspense drama, with Revathi and after that the prelude to Satya i.e. Drohi which didn't fare too well at the box office. A couple of Telugu films later came the biggest blockbuster of his career, Rangeela. It catapulted him to instant acclaim with the street smart Munna (Aamir Khan), and the starlet Urmila with whom he appears to share a special rapport. The success created history for A. R. Rahman the music director, Manish Malhotra the dress designer and Urmila, the sultry siren. The success seemed to go to his head and he made a racy thriller called Daud with hunk Sanjay Dutt and Urmila wearing the briefest mini skirt in Bollywood.
The film sank like a stone. It was a jolt for Ramu and he realised that he wasn't above the film and its script. And then came the movie on Mumbai's underworld named 'Satya' with a nondescript cast. The movie created ripples and set a new trend in cinema. Experimentation is a regular feature of Ram Gopal's movies. Next came a snappy chiller, Kaun, starring Urmila (again!), Manoj Bajpai and Sushant. A film devoid of songs, with only three characters and shot entirely indoors.
In between, he co-produced Dil Se and burnt his fingers. Then came the autobiographical Mast, based on his crush on Sridevi and no marks for guessing who the leading lady with Aftab Shivdasani was! The film didn't do well and Ramu was back again with his production of Shool directed by his assistant E.Niwas. Now the prolific director has hit the marquees with Jungle, loosely based on the brigand Veerappan starring Fardeen Khan, Sunil Shetty and Urmila. His greatest strength lies in his willingness to experiment, his taut narrative and slick direction. He is a man of few words and seldom does one find him entangled in controversies.
His next film Company, starring Ajay Devgn, Vivek Oberoi and Manisha Koirala, garnered much acclaim for its realistic portrayal of organized crime and the underworld. The film went onto become a huge success. His next Bhoot, a horror thriller starring Urmila Matondkar, also went on to send shivers down the spine of most audiences. His Naach, starring Abhishek Bachchan and Antara Mali, was a massive box-office failure. He kind of showed signs of return with Sarkar, a modern take on the iconic film 'Godfather'. Starring Amitabh Bachchan and Abhishek Bachchan as father and son, 'Sarkar' went on to do very well at the box-office.
Hereon, Ramu's downward spiral began. Failures such as 'Shiva', Nishabd, Ram Gopal Varma Ki Aag (the most iconic failure of all-time) and Darling brought RGV much disrepute. He kept showing positive signs with good films such as Phoonk, Sarkar Raj, Rann, RakhtCharitra etc., but largely, his films remained mediocre. In 2012, he gave us Department and Bhoot Returns both of which failed to make a mark. His first release in 2013 was The Attacks Of 2611. The director is now planning a sequel to Satya.