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Ram Gopal Varma Biography

Born : 07 April 1962, in Hyderabad, India




Ram Gopal Varma

Born and raised in Hyderabad, Ram Gopal Varma studied Civil Engineering at the Siddhartha Engineering College in Vijayawada where he would skip classes to watch movies instead. He ran a video rental store in Hyderabad before narrating a scene from his own work, Siva (1989) to Telugu star Nagarjuna who liked it so much he agreed to produce the film and act in it as well. Siva (1989) brought to the screen a new kind of violence, at once raw and thrilling, against the backdrop of hooliganism in college campuses. It was remade in Hindi as Shiva (1991). But Varma’s major breakthrough in Hindi cinema happened with his film Rangeela (1995), a love triangle between a star-struck girl (Urmila Matondkar), her ‘tapori’ friend Munna (Aamir Khan) and a big movie star (Jackie Shroff) whose heart she steals. It was also A R Rahman’s first Hindi film and an authentic entertainer. The film and its music were a big hit, paving the way for Varma’s visual style. It won him the Filmfare Award for the Best Story, as well as the Filmfare Critics’ Choice Award for the Best Film.

Varma’s next film that garnered acclaim was the hard-hitting underworld caper Satya (1998) co-written by Anurag Kashyap and Saurabh Shukla and featuring a cast of largely unknown actors, including Manoj Bajpai who made a big impression as Bhikhu Mhatre. It opened to fantastic reviews and comparisons with the maverick Quentin Tarantino (who also ran a video library at one point) and his penchant for choreographing casual violence with stylistic flourish. After that, Shool (1999) was his next big hit that won him the National Film Award for the Best Feature Film.

Equally accomplished was the film Company (2002), focussing on the machinations of a crime syndicate, allegedly inspired by the real-life split between Dawood Ibrahim and Chhota Rajan, with stirring performances from Ajay Devgan, Manisha Koirala and newcomer Vivek Oberoi.

Sarkar (2005), a Godfather-type family saga explored the nexus between politics and crime with Amitabh and Abhishek Bachchan playing father and son.

Apart from underworld thrillers, Varma has also dabbled in the horror genre, notably Raat (1992), Kaun (1999) and Bhoot (2003). His films ushered in a new aesthetic, which along with the gritty performances of the actors, defined the thrillers of the era. However, the prolific filmmaker has delivered many flops alongside these spectacular hits including Mr Ya Miss (2005) and Aag (2007).

Varma has also mentored several talented writers and directors, from Kashyap and Shukla to Jaideep Sahni who wrote Jungle (2000) and Company (2002); Madhur Bhandarkar, his associate director on Rangeela (1995); Shriram Raghavan for Ek Hasina Thi (2003) and Shimit Amin for Ab Tak Chhappan (2004).

His most recent venture, Ab Tak Chhappan 2 (2015) is a sequel to his super-hit film of the past.