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HomeEntertainmentBirthday special: Top 10 films of Ram Gopal Varma

Birthday special: Top 10 films of Ram Gopal Varma


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RAM GOPAL VARMA has been entertaining audiences in various Indian languages ever since he made his debut as a writer/director with the hit Telugu film Siva in 1989.

In a rollercoaster career filled with highs, lows and unexpected twists, the cinema maverick has delivered movies in a wide array of genres, including all-time Bollywood classics.

To celebrate Varma’s 62nd birthday on Sunday (7), Eastern Eye decided to select his top 10 films – listed in chronological order.

Siva (1989): Varma introduced himself with the Telugu language crime drama headlined by noted actor Nagarjuna. His directorial debut about a fearless student, who stands up to wrongdoing, introduced new filmmaking techniques and ways of telling a story.

The hit film was successfully dubbed in Tamil as Udhayam and remade in Bollywood a year later as Shiva (1990), with the same lead and marked the beginning of an exciting journey for a creative who dared to be different.

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Raat (1992): The supernatural film simultaneously shot in Hindi and Telugu helped popularise the horror genre among a new generation of cinemagoers. The twist-laden story of a family moving into a haunted house had plenty of scary moments from start to finish.

It would influence subsequent Indian cinema, including Varma’s own movies Bhoot and Bhoot Returns. The blockbuster hit with great performances was described by one critic as the scariest film he had ever seen.

Rangeela (1995): After big success in south Indian cinema, Varma made his first big Bollywood blockbuster with this romantic musical headlined by Aamir Khan, Urmila Matondkar and Jackie Shroff. The story of an aspiring actress torn between a major movie star and a street smart ruffian had comedy, romance and a phenomenal soundtrack from AR Rahman.

The global blockbuster filled with memorable moments and hit songs was dubbed in various languages.

Deyyam (1996): The critically acclaimed Telugu language horror film inspired by the 1982 Hollywood film Poltergeist had plenty of scares. JD Chakravarthy, Maheswari and Jayasudha played the lead roles in the spooky film about a haunted farmhouse. The film, with an open ending, took the ghost genre to new heights and inspired others to follow suit.

Top 10 inset Company 2002 V1

Satya (1998): One of the greatest crime dramas ever made in Bollywood. The gritty story of a fearless man torn between a criminal underworld and a kind-hearted woman injected a new kind of realism into gangster films.

The film’s success sparked a trend of similar movies in Bollywood and saw Manoj Bajpayee deliver a star-making turn with a truly terrific supporting role.

Company (2002): Varma once again showed no one could light up an incendiary gangster film quite like him when the screenplay is strong. The story, based on real events, revolved around a vicious henchman for a feared gangster, and how they fall apart to become deadly rivals.

The explosive performances of Ajay Devgn and Vivek Oberoi as gangsters were balanced beautifully by Mohanlal as the clever police officer pursuing them.

Bhoot (2003): One of the few genuinely scary horror films to emerge from Indian cinema revolved around a housewife seemingly haunted by an evil ghost.

Top 10 inset Bhoot.original

In a surprising move for a Bollywood movie, Urmila Matondkar and Ajay Devgn acted in a spooky film that didn’t have any of the usual singing and dancing. Instead, the movie focused on the central storyline.

The critically acclaimed movie was dubbed into multiple languages and even inspired a sequel, Bhoot Returns, in 2012 – helmed once again by the original filmmaker.

Sarkar (2005): One of the greatest Indian remakes of a Hollywood film saw Varma put his own spin on all-time classic The Godfather, which was based on a best-selling novel.

The filmmaker placed the story in an Indian setting, with Amitabh Bachchan playing an underworld don. Abhishek Bachchan and Kay Kay Menon put in winning performances as his sons with contrasting personalities.

The only negative about this stunning piece of cinema was the poor sequels. Honourable mention to Varma’s hit film Gaayam (1993), also based on The Godfather.

Rann (2010): In today’s world, where media and political corruption are under intense global scrutiny, the relevance of this movie has become even greater.

Top 10 inset sarkar m v1

The compelling drama, with Amitabh Bachchan in the lead role, delves into the world of sensationalist news media, as TV channels battle for ratings. The story follows a reporter’s journey to uncover the truth. Sadly, the film didn’t get the credit it deserved.

Killing Veerappan (2016): Varma made his Kannada language debut with this biographical crime drama based on real-life events.

The film revolved around the head of an intelligence wing and his pursuit of the notorious bandit Veerappan.

A movie that was very much rooted in reality had standout performances, sharp camerawork, an eye-catching setting and a strong background score. It was later remade in Hindi as Veerappan (2016).


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