How I came about making SARKAR

I was in my senior inter when a friend of mine gave me this book called The Godfather. He told me that there is a very explicit sex scene on page no 26 and that is how Godfather came into my life. After I read that page, I read the back-cover and it said something about mafia, a word that I had never ever heard.  Having nothing else better to do, I started reading it. The narrative, the characterization and the drama affected me incredibly. The book had such a tremendous impact on me that I think almost back-to-back I must have read it three to four times. Every time I finished reading I started reading again and every time I read it I kept discovering so many nuances and minute details of what has made that impact. The effect was to the extent I would say my interest in wanting to be a story-teller through films started primarily from the Godfather. 

After that when I became a director, lot of times I used to take references from Godfather – the scenes, the dialogue style or some moment from here and there. And they were in Shiva; they were in Satya. For example in Satya there is the voiceover after Amodh Shukla’s murder describing the aftermath. That was a direct take-off from a certain chapter of Godfather wherein Mario Puzo describes the aftermath of Solozzio’s killing. But consciously to make an adaptation of Godfather to the truest extent struck me probably sometime in 1999. Once I met Mr. Bachchan and I vaguely told him I have this idea of making an adaptation of Godfather.

In spite of many people not having heard of the Mafia as it is a American phenomenon it had a such a high resonance across the world because those kind of people exist all over in forms of gang lords, political leaders, dictators or kings who can influence a lot of people with the strength of their personalities and their tremendous Power. In the Indian context I thought the closest reference was someone like Balasaheb Thackeray. There is this one man who without any official position or a political seat out of his personal charisma he can affect people to the extent of they are willing to die and kill for him. I thought he was also the right reference for a character like Godfather to be created. The primary difference between the Godfather and Sarkar is that the tone of the Godfather novel has impressed me much more than the film version of Godfather because it had a certain mythological larger than life quality. In the book there is a line where Puzo mentions “from 1935 to 1937 the name of Santino Corleone sent shockwaves through the underworld.”
James Caan playing Santino Corleone’s character does not justify this line but Vishnu Nagre does. That is what I mean by taking reference of the tone of the book. Likewise in the beginning when Amerigo Bonasera talks to the Don to help him to bring justice to the people who hurt his daughter I disagreed with the conversation which was very like “how much do you want?  Why did you do this to me? Why didn’t you come to me first, instead of going to the police?” I felt it was very unreal because any of these big people who have reached a certain status, whenever a person comes to them because of some trouble; they will go out of their way to help them to make them feel emotionally obligated. That’s the reason they get indebted. There is a reason why they become so big as they develop these many people’s gratitude and trust and thereby they will start doing whatever they ask them to do at the end of the day. That also I took from a thought from the Godfather novel. The opening scene of SARKAR when a guys gets out of the rickshaw and comes into Sarkar’s bungalows gate, you can see the defeat in his walk and feel it in the voice when he is talking to Sarkar about the injustice he suffered.  There you get sucked into the mind state as that of Sarkar and you feel the anger as much as him, whereas in Godfather you look at the scene objectively.

Also my intention was to make the audience constantly feel intimidated by the characters. All of them should come with an inbuilt background score. For example the way Rashid enters the house,  the gate opening,  the background score and the way he gets down from the car and goes up the staircase its almost like a Mahabharat character coming with a full piece orchestra.  So by the time he reaches Sarkar the background score and the shots are commanding the audience to take him very seriously. Then on top of that sitting in front of Sarkar, taking his own time and not seemingly concerned or bothered or scared of the bigness of Sarkar, the character, the audience and also on the subconscious level, they feel the impact of a new actor sitting in front of Amitabh Bachchan and not being scared.
When people ask me my thing of casting new actors, it works in a scene because people have never seen that guy, I can play around with the audience’s imagination. If I take a big name in the effort of trying to match somebody with Amitabh Bachchan, somebody like Danny Denzongpa or Amrish Puri, I don’t think the scene will be effective enough because subconsciously the audience will feel the final outcome thereby making it predictable. With the new guy they won’t know what to make of him… how big he is? How small he is? And what he can do? That unpredictability of an unknown face I think works very well in films of this genre. As per with Abhishek’s character initially I thought of a guy who’s just a chilled out boy and he becomes a man in the course of the film. But later I thought that right from the beginning I should make him larger than life. The fact that he becomes what he became there is obviously a special quality in him. He does not do what his father does or may not agree with it or he many not be so much into it but that does not mean I should take away the larger than life quality that Shankar can have right from the time when he comes out of the airport the way he walks you still feel the sense of largeness around him. It is what I maintain more or less with all the characters in the film.

My tendency is to have very dramatic and in-the-face background score. I have two reasons for it; one reason is I find background score drives the emotion of the audience in a specified intended direction. At times I have been accused that I use it so loud almost to the point that you cannot hear the dialogue properly. Sometimes the reason for this is when I reach the mixing stage at times I am so bored of the dialogues myself by hearing it so many times I feel like listening to the music at that time. I know it sounds stupid but it can happen. So I think more or less if we know of the emotion of what they are going to talk about so why do we need so specifically for them to hear the lines.

My favorite shot in SARKAR is the end after the whole thing is resolved. This shot was of Sarkar in the background waving to the crowd and as he turns back and walks we hear the voice of someone speaking and then Tanisha comes in and for a second you feel Tanisha was talking. Then as the camera moves back we see the silhouette of a women talking to someone about her problem and as it pans, you see Shankar. The fact that Sarkar for the public is still the head and Shankar not really wanting to take credit for what he is doing is in the background. But his transition to take over has started so I wanted that to be communicated in one shot so the silhouette of this woman and Shankar and Sarkar being in the broad daylight. Its not that the audience will consciously understand this was the essence of the communication of the scene but I think one will feel the difference and will feel the impact. I don’t think the craft of cinema is not so much about the audience consciously understanding but they have to feel the impact.

During the making of SARKAR, me and Abhishek used to discuss the possibility of making a sequel. SARKAR is eventually about character conflicts. Obviously there will be so many situations that will happen in Sarkar’s life. If he dealt with one such type of situation and one set of antagonists then you can scale it up further and create another situation.

When I thought back about it I felt Sarkar was a very simplistic story. It is so because it is taken from the original Godfather plot. So many films have been made on that story line but it’s just the newness of the meeting and the performances which made it stand apart. In the sequel, I thought the newness of the first will be taken for granted because they have already seen it. But I cannot change that style because that is the tradition of SARKAR. But if I put a story in it which is very original and make on a scale, on a span and on issues which are bigger, I thought I can make it a lot more interesting than the first Sarkar.

One thing I felt when I saw Godfather Part Two – is that the characters were taken for granted. There was no intention on the part of the Director to make them look larger than life, the way it was done in the first part. So I somehow was disappointed to see Michael Corleone running here and there. No doubt that it is a great film and I have seen it many a times but I didn’t want to miss out on the intensity and the larger than life quality of Sarkar in SARKAR RAJ. So in fact I worked more than in SARKAR to sustain the feeling of larger than life treatment in terms of character portrayals. In spite of applying new technological advancements which have been developed in the last few years in terms of various treatments, I still tried to stick to the tradition of SARKAR and every technique was employed to capture the intensity of the actors because I don’t believe anything is bigger than an actors performance and any time technique is trying to take away or go away from that is where any film will falter.

– Ram Gopal Varma


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100 Responses to How I came about making SARKAR

  1. Windows Live says:

     I watched many movies directed by you. I lke kind of aggression, anger, revolt and bounce back approach you narrate its all fantastic. i had never corage to see your Aag after seeing promos. You are a differeent kind of brand who have specif viwers, aspirant and beliver. i am among them. I am an enginner and at age of 54 years. I will be very oblige if i get an chance act in your film even it is only 5 minutes role. Its my dream and I am sure you will not get dissappointment.
    ashit roy

  2. mittalrishi says:

    Dear Ramu, i am a great fan of urs since shiva…… then raat , drodhi etc….. n so on……., when i first show shiva i didnt know who the director was , after seeing the film i was so impressed that i had to rewind the VHS n see who the director of this fantastic film, i was in 8th standard then,………from then onwards i always used to wait for ur film…… and sarkar , i dont remember abt how times i have seen it…… no words to describe……now i m eagerly waiting for ur sarkaar raj…..the promos r looking gr8…… all the best to u……. Regards,RISHI

  3. Shyam says:

    Hello HelloJust created a banner with movie title in due respect to the King of Directors…Hope you like it

  4. Shyam says:

    Hello HelloJust created movie title in due respect to the King of Directors..U r our favorites….Hope you like it

  5. Shyam says:

    Hi AnnaIts gr8 that watch your movies,when r u going make one in telugu we all are waiting for one like Shiva,i guess Mahesh Babu or Jagapathy will be good combination for scripts which you usually use.

  6. Kamal Aakarsh says:

    I understand the importance you give to a shot, but i somehow do not understand the rationale behind extensive background score. A classic case in this point is Sarkar. I do not really know if Govinda Govinda theme suited the film. Firstly, the theme was created for telugu film Govinda Govinda and using it in sarkar reflects artificial creativity. I mean, if you had used a different theme, born naturally out of the creative process of Sarkar, it could have been more justifiable. Secondly, the usage of background score is excessive. I think very few composers-film-makers equation works brilliantly in this aspect.I have learnt the importance of Background score (and its impact even from its absence) from Ilaiyaraaja. I strongly feel that he can do phenomenal pieces for your shots. and pieces which could be infact marketed as OST. Pity you are leaving that stone unturned for enhancing the cinematic excellence of your work.Correct me if i am wrong, but he is the only composer who can justify your shots, in extra-ordinary way..without over-powerig with music..but highlighting the director\’s sensibilities. Shiva (1990) is a perfect example, since it makes a brilliant OST.Please give it a thought.

  7. srinivas says:

    Ramu gaaru,
                      I am diehard fan of you and ur movies.As u said once u made many worst movies and those include naach,mast .I didnt even watch AAG just bcoz i have read the comments on the film.I didnt want to get moody by watching ur bad film and thinking on it.But anyways I am very happy that somehow our messages reach you someday or the other thru some one.The climax shot of sarkar is understood by me exactly same as u said.And one more masterpiece is from Booth.U show the daily routine of Ajay Devgan going to office taking car from parking..and in one shot u show the basement for few seconds even after the car goesout of the parking place and then change the frame with a dolby camera click sound.This just made many people thrilled in the theatre.This is what u said u can play with peoples i right?That scene is really excellent as it is very minute and it does not need any action to be performed by artist.Its just a master creativity which u uniquely possess.Thanks for starting a blog and hope you see my message..

  8. fabian says:

    Hai Sir,
    I am a die hard fan Ramu,the script writer…According to me although movies are known as Director\’s Art, I personally think it is the Script which is the Soul of a film. If anybody has a well writtern with him, he can direct a film. Again it\’s my opinion. I always finds ur Scripts really different and somewhat realistic..I liked "My wife\’s Murder" very much..although the subject or the topc is a small one , the way u narrated it was amazing..I know for writting script we need observation and life expirences, but can u tell me you elaborate or enlarge such a small topic or small incident into a screenplay..Does u make any special preparation for that..Thanks a lot.

  9. naveen mahadevuni says:

    Hello Ramu Ji,
    Are you planning any film with Hrithik Roshan?? And also one more with Aamir??? We would love to see these combinations!! Please do reply to this one….

  10. confused says:

    passion nd intensitythts wat i feel after reading this….i m in…no comments just background music

  11. Abhishek says:

    Varma gaaru..meeru Chaala sarcastic ga replies iccharu..But I still loved each and every response of yours! your initial days, have you ever thought of making ADs? Shoot your reponse and I\’d love to read it (even sarcastic!)
    Also, wanted to tell you that in the film Kshana Kshanam, before Sridevi\’s intro, the camera moves towards her after showing a photo Album that contains Sridevi childhood photograph..How on earth could you think of such a realistic concept??  Even the last scene with Venky where he decides to take her with him (How cute) I Feel this is the IDEAL way to depict any relationship..kudos to you!
    Nenu meeru Kshana Kshanam movie gurinchi kooda ee blog lo mention chestarani aashishtunnanu..Coz I had fallen in love with Sridevi after watching that movie!

  12. Unknown says:

    Really loved this blog post! Please keep blogging about such interesting stuff!

  13. sagar says:

    …you said you are most careless while making satya …but it is the best from you and very realistic (my favorite after Shiva and Kshna Kshanam)….are you carless for Sarkar Raj film also??

  14. Unknown says:

    Dear Mr. Varma garu,
    I classified Satya and Shiva as socio-political dramas (social problems which can be addressed by political solutions).  That is why I used the word \’socio-political\’, sorry if I have mistaken.

    Can I send you a small story which is set in the backdrop of naxal problem in AP.  Please. 
    Thank you.

  15. jayanth says:

    well i would not like to give  any  advice or criticize!! would like to share some assumptions of what i have been observing  you ( your movies , press interviews)…am a voracious reader  buti never read this book Fountain head.
    just happen to read this couple of days back. You may deny this….but you are like this  Howard Roark guy ….always true to himself …his vision…. even if the whole world collapsed around  …he still struck to his vision… like this Character you seem to be trying to be true to yourself.You have the courage to follow your conviction
    your factory name reminds me of the CP+B (crispin Porter+ Bogusky) its a great agency in US. You can tell they are another Hoaward Roark in advertising.
    Another parallel away from the industry would be a Bill gates and Steve jobs. Gates considers himself an businesss man and Steve considers himself an artist. But the beauty o Steve he has  bounced back and perservered  to implement his vision and he has created beautiful products and also has been succesfull businesss man.
    Hope you read this…
    some where in your blog you mentioned like strong guys…people who are not vulnerable in bad times.
    Mr.Verma where do you find your strength?? is it a very private question?

  16. Unknown says:

    Dear Ramu,
    I m ur greatest enemy but love your courage. How straight u r…! I love ur films, close ups u add, sound track, pan shots and yes colour tone too. You r totally crazy man…and the way u r handling ur fans….yes u r crazy…I appreciate. But u r my enemy…bcoz when I will make my films…ur vision, ur film became my competitor.
    Please do…..what u wants…please make films as ur way.
    Ashwani Kumar

  17. Unknown says:

    As always its a great analysis, but I believe one of the best characters in your movie is none other than "KOTA" who was absolutely wonderful…!! Well…i am looking for your making of Company…i did like the way Malik was portrayed…!! Chandrakanth Naagre…!!!!

  18. Unknown says:

    keep expressing

  19. Abhishek says:

    Sir..Today at work someone had asked me about you (as Usual) and Sarkar Raj and wud it  give a dismal show just like Ram Gopal varma Ki AAG….I wanted these guys to interact with you directly. Hence I recommended
    "Ram Gopal Varma Ki Blog"..Not sure if I did the right thing..However, Let the world not bury assumptions in their heart! As someone rightly mentioned." keep expressing"

  20. Unknown says:

    My take on why directors like RGV find it difficult to make good movies. Most of the big box office hits over the last years are 90 percent visually orientated. It explains why someone like me who hardly understand a full sentence in Hindi still watch Bollywood movies.
    This requires you to basically leave your brains at home, not ask questions and then go watch a Hindi movie. How else can you explain a story that takes place in Mumbai suddenly gets transported to Switzerland or Manhattan for a song sequence. Simple reason, stun the viewers with the most beautiful visuals, making up for the lack of story. I sometimes wonder how do heroes breakout into song during a highly intimate moment. Does it happen in India for if it does the government could sure find a novel way for family planning. In reality one can only visualize the hero having an erection and the actors having saliva dripping down their faces with all that singing to each others faces.
    Anyway coming back to the point, when an attempt is made to make a serious movie strictly story based, the director ic faced with the dilema on how to present it. Does he cut corners and put in item songs for the masses or present it in his own imaginative way and face the consequences of an empty cinema hall.
    In short if the taste of the indian audience does not change it is tough for the filmmaker to experiment. Faced with a spate of flops, it will compell the director to follow that beaten path. Often this means trying to figure out what the masses want which of course means that you are going to beaten flat by those who specialize in making that kind of commercial thrash.
    I get excited by the prospects of Sarkar Raaj – it could be that stylised different movie that i look forward to. However that brings up the prospect of it being a dud. Or is RGV going to fill it up with the cliches, the norm. These are hard times for good directors, after all how many flops can you endure and still stay in the industry.

  21. sagar says:

    The way you started the movie Shiva with a fight …then a car smoke …from there Shiva enters covering sun above him …that cycle chasing …and that chasing scene in the streets…and murder of Chinna  …How did you get these kind of ideas …anyways movies like these provoked me to set my goal as becoming a story teller…you are my Idol–Venky

  22. ThE says:

    missed to add–"If you felt SHIVA and later SATYA were his finest
    efforts, you\’ve got to watch SARKAR RAJ. An outstanding film in all
    respects, this film has all it takes to emerge a major success story at
    the box-office… and a landmark film in everyone\’s careers"Regards,Zia

  23. Unknown says:

    i wish i could slap khalid mohammed. sarkar raj is damn neat, but sarkar is much better. however, i still wish my first sentence comes true.

  24. Rajan says:

    I watched sarkar raj yesterday evening
    I thought it was terrific….despite all the rave reviews sarkar 1 received i somewhat disliked coz i thought it was a plain remake and most of all Amitabh Bachchan\’s character was gagged and reduced to a tired sick old man who was easily dupped by his people around him and it took  his son to finally save the day.
     But this one took me totally by surprise, plesantly. I thought the first half was engaging in its depiction of the policical scene without any uncessary theatrics. The second half i thought was remarkable in the surprises it presented. The final 30 mins were the soul of the film. I loved the fact that this film was more about AB senior. He was just perfect. What a performance. Whether its sadness of his older son\’s death, or perhaps whether it was taking revenge like a wounded tiger he was just outstanding.  the last time he was this fantastic was nishabdh.  the audience too was just totally engaged in the second half. all amitabh did was talk but there was pin drop silence as he explained the art of war. truly the stuff geniuses are made of. i havent revealed any surprises coz i am not sure other posters have seen the film.

  25. Unknown says:

    I am glad you decided to take on these critics,especially Khalid Mohammed.He is crummy old $%#@ who dislikes most movies.You should read what ordinary citizens have been saying about your movie on their blogs.Click on this link to read my take on your film.
    Film review :

  26. venkatesh says:

    I feel some scenes in Sarkar resemble the scenes from Gayam, your earlier film in Telugu. Was it intensional?

  27. sn says:

    kis kis ke mu band karoge…ur box office collection will speak..frankly i don\’t see movies after reading comments….i also dont see movies in first two weeks..if it survives first two weeks then i decide to see and thats it….mabaker

  28. jayanth says:

    Firstly on your  critics , in life its very easy  to be judgmental and cynical. creation is sheer will.and its a  process. not a single act. what will an arm chair thinker know about creation!!!instead of giving one sided review. one needs to be balanced.
    Box office decides whether the movie is good or bad or engaging or interesting based on the category. There are so many well crafted movies not commercially success. Yes in the real world  what matters is commercial success…the reason may be various its too complex to put it in few words.
    From an artist point of  view sarkar is an intresting movie, only thing it does not have the freshness of sarkar 1. But intresting.
    also it was housefull for almost a week in my part of the town.
    So i think you have been successfull to draw the crowds!!!
    movies are like food that is what is in trend, intrestingly packaged, seen in a different perspective etc etc becomes a hit.
    This is not advice from me just sharing my perspective would not like to give any advice like my earlier comment

  29. jayanth says:

    To all your critics ..who keep complaining about your movies, its been lifted
    from this and that.!!!
    Good artists copy and great artists steal!!!
    Pablo Picasso

  30. vigil says:

    hi ram gopal ji,    i can find something special in you .i like your works it is differnt from all others work .which makes you "RAM GOPAL VARMA".in my opinoin aag was well directed.i loved the way you crafted sholy into a new story but most of the people was not happy to accept your work .it was a really good work .any way i am really happy to see that you are going forward without any problrm in you.ALL YOUR MOVIES HAVE GOT SOMETHING SPECIAL IN IT .BUT PEOPLE ALWAYS LOOK AT BAD THINGS THAN GOOD THINGS .LETS HOPE YOU WILL AGAIN CREAT BOX OFFICE HISTORY WHICH IS UNDESTOYABLE…………………………………………………….

  31. Unknown says:

    hi RGV
        i knw tht i know nothing abt a directorz race track but bng a viewer,dr and an artist m adding my comments ..hope ya think over it…m writing in d words of a normal viewer and not as someone who wd exhibit his writing capablities 2 impress nyone..lolz
     i hav been going through all the movies since m over wd mah gradz..was juss observing the ingredients which make a movie become d hit of the century n what makes it a total failure..
    all movies are created wd tremendous hard work, n study wd actors sweating bullets to live tht character actually… but there is something which appeals to the masses. that is when they cud correlate the character or any other person in d flik wd once the masses experience a DEJA VU from the frames of their own life ,then their adranaline is easily evoked.. therefore in d end they leave the theatre wd moist eyez or wd a smile ..n dey keep on discussing abt it fo dayz..
    sarkar raj portrayed a good message but not enuf masses were amused.. because they dont get in touch wd any godfather type characters like those in their real lives…and they even dont attract them much now.
    if there are any good topics which cud really grab them ..then there have been numerous permutation n combinations of hit movies already over it..
    i think tht most of the movie makers don\’t get it becuz thr own life style is so much full o glamour n glitz tht they dun get to knw abt a common manz life
    therefore a study of life style of lower middle,middle & upper middle class is needed ..along wd analyzing d evolution of their psychology since d first movie was introduced…becuz our india is abundantly occupied wd tht segment only which is responsible for any hit or flop..and obviously once a character like that is found then it becomes a fashion icon.
    there are still lots of topics left …people feel it but don\’t get words or movies which could really give those long lost emotions a shape..
    well enuf of mah long talkss… hope yer still awake after going thru it ..
    well i dig the sense o humor added by u wd special characters like rajpal yadav..lolz

  32. Rathijeet says:

    Hi RGV
    i liked Sarkar and hv seen it several times,i feel it is linked to the character of Bala Saheb Thackarey himself,
    is anything inspired or copied from him.rply

  33. Parixit says:

    u r a superb director but u r a better philosopher. Reading ur blog fascinates me more than ur movies, and i will be grateful to you if u give comments on the following subjects.1] The Departed [movie]2] Martin scorsese3] Steven spilberg4] Anurag kashyap and no smoking5] music6] rock music7] Manoj night shyamlan and his movies[especially \’the happening\’]8] sportz9] science and science-fiction movies10] Irfaan khan [actor]These are the things which came in my mind on the spot next time I\’ll be more specific. plz reply

  34. edhardy says:

    thanks buddy.<a href="">ed hardy</a>

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