The strokes behind Rangeela :

In my college I used to hang out with a guy called Ramesh who was a kind of a street goonda. Those days there used to be a lot of hobnobbing between students and goonda elements. Ramesh was a very feared guy in the locality and me and my friends used to be in awe of him. We used to spend endless hours with him in an Irani hotel.
He developed a huge crush on one of the college girls which slowly turned into intense love. But he always used to look at her from far and never used to go near to her or talk to her in spite of our encouragement. I used to think it pretty ironical that such a tough guy becomes so tender when it comes to her.
He always used to wear some dirty chappals and one day he came wearing a brand new pair of Nike shoes. They looked so funny on him and everyone laughed. He was hurt and I could see that it was his attempt to smarten himself to impress the girl.
The girl started seeing this very good looking guy who was also rich and one of the very few guys who had his own car. All of us chamchas of Ramesh sat in Irani café and started goading him to go and beat up that guy and get him out of the way. Ramesh turned around and with a choked voice said that she deserved the best and the other guy was better suited for her than him in every which way. Rangeela took birth at that moment in that Irani café. The Nike shoes incident of Ramesh would appear as Munna wearing the yellow dress later in the film.
I used to hear stories of a how Sridevi’s mother used to be a junior artiste and how she used to to go from studio to studio to make her daughter a star. I kind of combined bother her and her daughter into one and created the character of Mili.
Jackie Shroff’s character I took from the Countess character in “The Sound of Music”. I was amazed at the dignity with which her character was treated resisting from the temptation of depicting her as a vamp. Once I finished the story I wanted to make it in Telugu with Sridevi and Nagarjuna and was planning to ask Rajnikant to do guest appearance. Both Sridevi and Nagarjuna did not like the story and they preferred another story I had which was made into a film called “Govinda Govinda”. Primarily I think they were not hot on the subject, not so much because of the subject itself but it was more because they thought I will be better in action films because of my Shiva background. So I kind of forgot about the subject for a few years.
Meanwhile at some point I came to Mumbai to sign Madhuri Dixit for a role opposite Nagarjuna for my film “Antham” (Drohi). Madhuri’s dates were not available and Boney Kapoor suggested to me that there is this new girl called Urmila in a film called “Narasimha”. I didn’t think much of her but because there was no time and no one else available I signed her. Neither the film nor she worked. A few months later Mani Ratnam and me wanted to work together and we wrote a script called “Gayam” in which Revathi was the main lead and for a supporting role Mani suggested Urmila not because he thought much about her but for that role he thought she would be fine.
I was planning to shoot a song with Urmila for Gaayam in Vizag when a choreographer called Suchitra missed her train from Vizag. So instead of canceling the shoot I asked Urmila if she could dance on the music by herself to which she did. Seeing her dance to that song completely by herself I was mesmerized and I decided to make Rangeela with her that moment.
I loved Aamir in Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak and also Raakh. I off and on used to meet him in Mumbai. He loved my first film Shiva and we were planning to work together and I went to meet him with the Rangeela script which he immediately liked.
I happened to see Mani ratnam’s Roja songs which really blew me away and for the first time in my career I wanted to shoot songs as beautiful as possible. So I went about seeing all the great Hollywood musicals in the course of which I made an observation that my mother was not flinching in the song sequences of “Singing in the rain” where there was so much exposure of the girls bodies. She was otherwise conservative and used to look down upon the Sarkaylo Khatiya David Dhawan-Karishma kind of songs. Then I realized that the way the heroines used to expose at that time was in an atmosphere where they were made to feel dirty and crass with the use of lyrics and movements and that hardness use to come on their faces whereas girls from “Singing in the rain” were exposing with a sense of pride and with a feeling of joy. In both cases my mother was connecting to the feeling and not to the bodies. This is what I told Urmila and I said ‘if you feel beautiful you will come across beautiful and if you feel that you doing something vulgar you will come across like that’.
I wanted to shoot the songs very glamourosly and “Hai Rama” extremely erotic with lust inJackie’s and Urmila’s eyes rather than romance. I thought animals don’t hide behind closed walls or look for a dark place to make love. When they are in the mood for that they do it in broad daylight anywhere, any place and except their feelings for each other everything else around them vanishes. You see that aspect in the sequence in “Hai Rama’ when Urmila and Jackie are circling each other in the Kuldhara ruins with intense lust in their eyes.
Somewhere half way through the film Aamir started having doubts on the script and definitely with a lot of valid reasons. He said if Munna is an extrovert, sells tickets in black and has such a flamboyant personality why would he delay telling Mili that he loves her. He felt that just for the convenience of the screenplay I was delaying that aspect. Put that way he was absolutely right, but I thought nobody felt it when I was narrating the story including aamir which means the emotional dram must be carrying it forward whereas now since Aamir had the time to think he sees it as a problem.
He also felt if Mili is a nice girl, Munna is a nice guy and Jackie is also a nice guy there was absolutely no drama anymore and the whole film is resting on just that one line of Munna not telling Mili till the end.
He told me that as no two people can have the same vision and since I am the Director he would go along with my vision inspite of his disagreement with me. Contraray to popular perception, Aamir is absolutely non-interfering compared to any actor I worked with or I have heard of. He is a very intelligent man with a tremendous sincerity and a superb reasoning power. But since most people don’t have his sincerity including myself the guilt in us would make us say that he interferes even though I never said that.
When the film released and was declared a big hit Aamir hugged me and said that he was glad I proved to be right. But that is not necessarily true. Maybe the film would have been a much bigger hit if I incorporated all his suggestions. Also in my heart I know that if the film didn’t work it would have been precisely for the same reasons Aamir feared.
Anyway the famous controversy between me and aamir happened 6 to 7 months after Rangeela released. Khalid Mohammed was doing an interview with me in which I was giving an explanation that the audience can rarely understand the difference between a character and an actor. I cited the scene in Rangeela when Aamir takes Urmila to restaurant. Now the waiter being a Five Star Hotel steward is more higher in social status than Munna but being a waiter he has no choice but to serve him. But on a human being level he can barely hide his disgust hearing Munna’s lines. So I told Khalid that the lines are being delivered by Aamir but the look on the waiter’s face is what is making the audience laugh. So it calls for more complex acting on the waiter’s part compared to Aamir in that particular scene. Khalid who apparently had a personal axe to grind with Aamir went ahead and printed this article which read like as if I said “The waiter was better than Aamir”. By the time the article came out I was off on a Telugu film shoot in interior Andhra Pradesh. Aamir tried to contact me and those days there were no cell phones. The fact that I was not getting in touch with him and him not knowing where I was, he thought I was avoiding him and as the media was hounding him to react he went ahead and reacted and the media blew up the thing into a full scale war. The moment I realized what happened I met Aamir and explained it to him. He wanted me to give a statement in print against Khalid that I was misquoted to which I said I can’t because all those things I did say, it’s just that it’s too technical for a layman at that time to understand and I should not have spoken to a man like Khalid about that and that was a mistake.
Some cold vibes still remained with good reason till years later we met at a party and had a long chat and since then we are cordial. So whatever happened between me and Aamir was completely 100% my fault and I am saying this now here because I was not trusting any journalist to put it across in the correct perspective.
And before some minds out there jump to this conclusion that this is an effort on my part to patch up with him in order to do a film with him I want to categorically state here that I will never ever do a film with him and the reasons for that are:
(a). I am not as sincere or as committed as him.
(b). I don’t have his patience.
(c). Above all I truly think he is a far better filmmaker than me.
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100 Responses to The strokes behind Rangeela :

  1. Aline says:

    Dear Rgv,
    It has been great to read your own personal version of what happened with Aamir. It is a privilege to read all this directly from one of the sources.
    Moving to another topic, there is an Italian fan of yours that I believe would be thrilled to participate in the Phoonk contest once it is open, even if she does not win several lakhs of rupees.
    Her dedication to you should make her deserve a private screening.

  2. Akshata says:

    Hello  Ramu Sir,
    I think Aamir owes a reply to u on this one!
    ..well.. i have one question. If you are given an opportunity would you live your life again just the way you have uptill now?.. do you think life\’s been unfair to you?..
     you know its nice of you to come upfront with thoughts, which might never get a better and more sincere platform otherwise. But by \’declaring\’ that you will never do a film with him, don\’t you think that its too impulsive a statement!. Irrespective of the reasons given, it might very well be the case that if you have a good script, Aamir himself would want to work with you!!..
    With respect,

  3. satyanarayana says:

    I respect you as a good entertainer, but i was disappointed with sarkar raj. May be its my fault, that i was comparing sarkar raj with godfather 2. Anyway, I really want you to see directing \’The Godfather 4\’ which no one ever dare to think about it ( as of my knowledge).

  4. wnkT says:

    ramu.. bring in more write-ups like thesee….!!

  5. Kesavan says:

    " The day you start thinking that your idea is you that is when you start taking yourself too seriously and you will start falling in love with the ‘I’ and start losing track of your thinking thereby loosing track of the source where the ‘I’ is coming from in the first place. "
    "Live in the moment…"
    Can you see this philosophy reflected in Bhagavad Gita (take out the religious aspect of it, I know you dont believe in religion/God)? Did you read "The power of now" ?
    Business talk:
    Who owns the rights for your films? Are your old films lying idle or making any recurring money? Have you explored digital media to have a trickle of revenue for your archives? Are you aware/explored/exploring multiple monetisation opportunities the digital platforms are offering content owners like you?

  6. Unknown says:

    You mentioned Antham. I think it is a better film than Shiva. I remember you and Late Jandhyala had an argument in a telugu magazine about Govinda Govinda..What was that all about? Didn\’t you started a movie with chiranjeevi and stopped it in the middle? Did you made a movie with the same story again? I heard they used the songs you picturised in another Chiranjeevi\’s film  , insane!!would love to see some deleted scenes from your movies ,how did you convince that scene is not required in the final version…your reasoning..etc.

  7. Brahma says:

    Hi Ramu,
    Why dont u work on releasing your DVDs With different climaxes of your movies as we see in case of hollywood movies? U can also work on giving us an option of selecting certain angle for a scene picturised by you. This will give us a scene in various camera angles and a movie with multiple climaxes? What say?

  8. Sridhar says:

    Ramu, Sirivennela said that Gayam has been made for the song,  \’Surajyamanaleni Swarajyamendukani ..\’. Such a wonderful song and your interest in it shows your taste. Why don\’t you bring up that side of you in the movies. You made enough movies of the other side, which is not much of a use to the society.
    Don\’t say that you won\’t care society. Even if you won\’t you are responsible to it.
    You have such a wonderful talent, please make good movies like Maniratnam and Krishnavamshi.

  9. Unknown says:

    I still remember the Woodlands theatre – Chennai\’s ad in "The Hindu" paper after Rangeela got released…Here it goes…AUDIENCE IS REQUESTED NOT TO DANCE ON THE STAGEAaah….Nostalgic… I was in 6th std or something… My parents desisted from taking to the movie as it was rated A 🙂

  10. karthik says:

    @no name – below
    will u believe me, if i say the same thing happened to me word to word –  woodlands, an ad that i remember, me studying in 6th at that time, parents unwilling to take me…
    we almost went to the theatre (satyam complex), but there was a huge banner of urmila in her undergarment. my parents said NO!

  11. Unknown says:

    U really are a good observer Ram. I guess all creative people are sensitive and observant, good students of the human nature and go about expressing it in their own ways. I liked this article as it gives an insight into your mind.

  12. Unknown says:

    @Karthik:-) When did you manage to see the movie at last?It took me 7 years to see the movie 🙂 I didnt know who Ram gopal varma was at that time… All i knew about Rangeela was that music is by my favorite- A.R.Rahman. My neighbor used to have Rangeela audio at their home and they used to hear it in loud volume. I used to dance like crazy hearing it… :-)CUT TO2001 or 2002, when i was in college, I saw Company. I was dumb-founded. What a freaking movie! Only then I knew who RGV was and started watching all his past movies. I was surprised to see Rangeela in that list :-)Actually I watched Udayam(Tamil dub of "Shiva") when i was very young. The scene where Nagarjuna will be having a cycle chain in his knuckles is still vivid in my memory…Man… I am getting too nostalgic… some body stop me…

  13. veerudu says:

    Baavundi… Baavundi… Continue…Continue….How about Behind the scenes about Shive next time ???

  14. veerudu says:

    Baavundi… Baavundi… Continue…Continue…How about Behind the scenes about Shiva next time??? Would love to read …… Please ????.

  15. Unknown says:

    Quite interesting to know how rangeela came into reality.i have the following questions.1) How do you and film makers persist with thoughts for months and yers together, to do a film? what motivates you to keep that thought in the mind and work on it?2) How did the role of pakkya came into picture? he was the next most belivable character after aamir friend.

  16. Ravi says:

    We had seen your \’arrogant\’ side…your \’witty\’ side…your \’sarcastic\’ side and now, your \’humility\’ side! Believe me, you\’ve pleasantly surprised me with your modesty 🙂 Feels good (for an ardent admirer like me) to know that you are a normal human being like anyone of us here (I am sure you\’ll take the good humour in your stride :-).
    Kaani, one thing is sure! You always tell/write, what YOU WANT TO TELL! But never bother to answer what others are asking! There is nothing wrong in telling what you want to tell! We appreciate that. We even applaud your frankness and humbleness in sharing the actual truth. But why is that you turn a deaf ear to most of our questions/requests? Is it due to lack of time or such questions/requests don\’t reach you or is it due to your \’other\’ side that we don\’t know about ? Just curious 🙂

  17. Unknown says:

    I am a singer and I came to realise my dreams in Bombay.Fate was not so kind to me and somehow i got  kidney failures which shattered my dreams.But i believe in destiny and you are the person who can change it if you wish.I have recorded a song ,if you have time,pl kindly listen it.Here is my link-
     thanks !

  18. Abhishek says:

    Quoting Veerudu " Neeku baagane untadi….saar ki kopam vasthe mana jungal ki povvale"..hahaha

  19. Prashant says:

    I am glad you wrote about Rangeela, something I was eager to read
    about, directly from you. In 2005 I was researching on Bioscopes. I
    wanted to make a documentary on it. Your film \’Rangeela\’ opens with the
    titles via a Bioscope and then Urmila breaks into the song right after
    it. I wanted to know more about its significance, i.e. what prompted
    you to begin the film with a Bioscope? Subsequently, I tried to contact
    you, spoke to your PRO a number of times to know the same.
    Unfortunately, I never got a positive reply. I am not sure if he ever
    mentioned that to you or whether you were simply not interested in
    replying to my query then.

    However, while you are now opening up, I shall be glad to seek answers
    to those queries. If you could kindly throw some light on the idea of
    opening sequence of \’Rangeela\’, specifically beginning from the titles
    to Urmila\’s breaking into the song.

    My short film eventually changed completely after I met a wonderful
    \’Bioscopewallah\’ who dedicated his entire life being a charming
    entertainer. I finally edited it, excluding all the film clips that i
    had initially planned to include in my documentary now titled as \’The

    Thank you for the wonderful \’insights\’ on blogs. It is in brilliant
    format especially when directors personally contribute and reflect on
    their filmmaking, its nuances and its aesthetics, something that people
    in Hollywood could follow.

    Good luck,


    Prashant Kadam

  20. Hussain says:

    Dear Mr. RAW-MOO (As in Hindi Mouth) , In school i remember giving assignments to writ BOON & BANE for any new invention, i guess Blog\’s are something with more of Former than Latter this blog confirms my belief i always thought till now what i read in MEDIA, ie. you couldnt take the Limelight AAmir got for Rangeela, OH! firstly did i metioned alreday THAT am a ardent admirer of yours,, Like u had rightly mentioned about ROJA inspiring you for song picturasation and imprtance of good cinematography,, i can defintly Vouch for ur films liek Shiva and Raat etc in the early days doing the same in the importance of Sound recording/ Background score before that i hardly remember watching any Hindi Movie ( I mean there were some but ot many) with so much importance to this aspect of filmaking, the chase scene in college corridoors, the scene where Chkravatryhys shoes is in closeup when he is moeving back,, that scene when Kamala is kidnapped the way camre starts that scene from under the Maruti VAN to name a few scenes from SHIVA,, coming back to RANGEELA, it was an author backed role done to perfection by the perfeftionist, know why i say that cos there is similarity of role of a hooligan good for nothing tapori in Ghulams (Siddu and Rangeelas munna but u can never feel ist the same actor….thats acting,, to me) would like to mention am no big FAN of Vikram bhatts n all,when i saw the teaser /trailor of rangeela with Drohi and Shiva in back of my mind i was expecting a Full fledged Action movie Jackines song sequence of Horse riging in Arid backgound made sure its got lots of action,,, n know what i was waiting till the last scene ki kuch maar daad aayega thats the problem with indian audience be it Actor or Directors to SLOT them for a specifi GENRE,,,now u have toally confused them,,,hinestly am not too good ith bloggin although myself an computer engineer based out in DOHA who did not have the balls to follow my DREAM thought i attempted it twice once when i read after Rangeela in Sunday review ( part Times Of india then) u were making a movie on underworld and doing lots of research on it,, i thought i could ve been of substantial help as i come from a GHETTO background,,,, and i ihave lived my entire life amidst with pple like them and still have innumerbale tale to tell kno what i have wriiten rought drafts on many of them!!!and 2nd time it bwas when u were shootin for RAAAT in panvel,, i managed to get to the location by buking my college but there was no shoot happenin  then except that i saw Gulzar Saaabs Hututu Set being done!!!!Noting more right or wrong!!!ADIOS!!

  21. Ashvin says:

    I have read all the blogs so far…..its evident that every movie you have made has so much of passion involved and the characters are inspired or made up from the characters you have observed and you have been with…..I am falling short of words in praising you( of course I am not a media person to impress you)…!! Every blog I have read was always better than the other and there cannot be any comparison…..But my favorite blog is “The Tryst with Mafia”…that was truly awesome…I was completely struck by awe….!! Great BOSS..!! We really hope to see you making a 100 movies or more…!!!! I am still waiting on your blog on "NISHABD" which is my all time favorite love story!!!

  22. Jonah says:

    I am from your home town and must say have seen most of your movies in both Telugu and Hindi languages. My favourite till date should be Ab Tak Chappan. Though not directed by you, I still can see your instincts in the movie making. I run to the TV when i see you just to know if you are giving an interview. I love to see your interviews because of (if i can say witty) comments you pass. I have recently seen your interview taken by Sir. Endamur Veerendranath. I just love the way he got you on the interview and i loved your responses too. And needless to say i read your entire blog and am following it closely.I am a great fan of your film making. I have other friends of mine who hate you today for the kind of films that came out recently (read GO, Contract, Nishabd, Vastu Shastra) which i feel are disasters too. But i find it hard to convince them that there is something to look in those movies too. I dont watch your movies for entertainment, I watch them to notice that brilliance of your movie making.There are scenes which touch my heart when i watch your movies like when you shows the news paper headlines news in Satya from a piece of paper in which a beggar is eating his meal. People take your movies seriously and sad part is they try to scrutinize every angle of them to be realistic which i am sure you make sure most of the times. But sadly enough audience have become so clever these days that they observer everything like the character locking his doors while going out or not, whether he is locking his car after parking it or not, whether he is pressing the exact 10 digits when he is dialing a phone and how much time it take for the other person to answer it, etc., I am not saying you ignored these but, when i saw aag and i saw the two heros flying in the air and missing bullets like super heros, i was sadly disappointed and left the theatre at once.One thing i wanted to tell you is, even though your film bombs at box office, what i and (am sure) many others like want to watch a clean realisitic and flawless cinema from you and dont care whether it entertains or not.One question: In Ab tak chappan, why did Saadu Aghase went when chotu called and said "feroz ka pata chal gaya" when he already killed him?I felt contract was a another feather in your cap, most of the scenes were awesome but only one problem in the entire movie was the Hero (or whatever we can call him). He lacked screen presense and acting skills which was a biggest slap to the movie in it entirity. and those still of him exercing in the beach which flashed on screen repeatedly was not so so .. RGV..Any plans to make a patriotic movie? sure i\’d be the first person to see.. Luv you..

  23. Shantanu says:

    "Above all I truly think he (Aamir) is a far better filmmaker than me. "
    Couldn\’t agree more Ramu, couldn\’t agree more!

  24. ashish says:

    Above all I truly think he is a far better filmmaker than me.w.b.rao, vijay arora, saurabh shukla ,jaideep sahni,sameer chanda ,sandeep chaowta ,a r rahman and many more. the diff between  urmila period( i believe you never worked better after bhoot) and post urmila is only that in that duration u worked with really good guys. please don\’t take it another way. as we learn film making is collaborative effort i dont think akela chana bhaand fod sakta hai. i am still your great fan. when in interview for dip course in direction in ftii one member asked who is your fav new gen. director i said instantly ram gopal verma. i remember i purchased rangeela ticket in black to view it firstday first show in heavy rain. but now a days i watched your movies on pirated dvd. last one contract i watched it play forward play mode. i don\’t think you are egoist but you have to bring some of peoples back. rangeela satya raat company are in my blood. i want that ramu again. i want to buy tickets in black again. thank you

  25. Unknown says:

    Hi Ramu
    Its 12.24 am and I need to go to sleep to be able to get to office tomorrow morning at 7 am but as you can see I like reading smart ass articles. I loved this write up where you explained about Aamir and the controversy- what a sweetheart you really are….
    I also loved your write up explaining why people get attached to a particular celebrity because they see them as an extension of themselves. Obviously, reading all those tomes helped smarten you up a lot.
    Take care. Btw, I hope you make Sarkar Raj 3. I also loved Daud…

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