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Ram Gopal Varma
Also known as:Ramu, RGV
Occupation:Director • Producer • Writer • Executive Producer • Screenplay • Dialogue Writer • Actor • Singer
Born:April 7, 1962
Birthplace:Hyderabad, Telangana, India
Spouse:Ratna Varma
Born as Penmetsa Ram Gopal Varma and popularly known as RGV, Ram Gopal Varma is an Indian director, casting director, screenwriter, editor, story writer, and producer. He is popularly known for his work in Telugu and Hindi cinema industry. Regarded as the pioneer of new-age Indian cinema, Ramgopal Varma has directed movies across multiple genres including docudrama and parallel cinema.

Ramu, as the director is fondly called began his filming career with the Telugu movie Siva, which went on the win the Filmfare Best Film award. Following his smashing success in Telugu film industry, RGV soon established himself in Bollywood as well. He is widely known for directing the Indian Gangster Trilogy, namely, Satya, Company, D Company.

Early Life

Ram Gopal Varma was born to Krishnam Raju Penmetsa and Suryamma, in Hyderabad. During his childhood, Varma bunked school regularly and go watch movies. Being highly irregular at school, he was under constant scrutiny and this hampered his relationship with his family. For most of his childhood, he grew up as a loner and was obsessed with movies. He would repeatedly watch certain scenes of a movie just because he liked them. According to RGV, this childhood habit eventually helped him in directing movies later in his life.

Varma attended the V.R. Siddhartha Engineering College and holds a degree in Civil Engineering. After his graduation, he worked as a site engineer for the Krishna Oberoi Hotel located in Hyderabad. It was during his stay in Hyderabad that he happened to visit a video rental library in Hyderabad, which inspired him to start his own video rental library in Hyderabad. Dedicated to making his dreams come true, RGV soon started to develop contacts with the film fraternity.

Filming Career

As Director

RGV began his career working as an assistant director for films such as Rao Gari Illu and Collector Gari Abbai. With the help of his father who used to work as a sound recordist at the Annapurna Studios, RGV met the actor Nagarjuna and narrated a scene from the film that he had written. Impressed by Varma, Nagarjuna soon collaborated with him and in 1989 Varma made his directorial debut in Bollywood with the crime thriller, Siva. The movie was a commercial hit and went on to bag many awards. Subsequently, it was also listed on CNN-IBN`s list of 100 Greatest Films of All Time.

A couple of years later, in 1991, RGV directed Kshana Kshanam, which went on to become a super hit and he even won the Nandi Award for Best Direction, and Best Screenplay Writer for the movie. In the same year, Varma also directed the supernatural thriller Raaz that had Bipasha Basu and Dino Morea in the lead role. The movie impressed the audience and his directorial skills and expertise were highly appreciated. His notable Telugu and Tamil movies include Gaayam (1993), Thiruda Thiruda (1993), Govinda (1994), Anaganga Oka Raju (1997), Prem Katha (1999), Ice Cream (2014), Rowdy (2014), and Anukshanan (2014).

While Varma became to be known for his gritty and dark techniques of movie-making, in 1994, he directed a romantic comedy, Rangeela, starring Aamir Khan, Jackie Shroff, and Urmila Matondkar. The movie was critically and commercially acclaimed and won seven Filmfare Awards as well, establishing Varma as one of the respected directors in Bollywood. However, Varma`s best work in Bollywood was yet to come. In the year 1998, Varma directed the movie Satya, a crime drama based on Mumbai`s underworld. Satya is regarded as a masterpiece in movie making and has received a cult status over the years. Satya was the first of the trilogy that he directed, which also includes Company (2002), and D (2005).

Varma`s love for the horror genre was evident as he later directed several horror movies including Bhoot (2003), Darna Mana Hai (2003), Darna Zaroori Hai (2006), Darling (2007), Phoonk (2008), Agyaat (2009). Of these movies, only Bhoot, and Darna Mana Hai left the audience impressed. In 2005, inspired by the Hollywood Classic, The Godfather, RGV directed Sarkar, starring Amitabh Bachchan. The movie was greeted well by the critics and was a super hit. In 2008, the sequel to Sarkar was released, titled Sarkar Raj, which was not as successful as the first part.

Although RGV had established himself as one of the better directors of Bollywood, he faced a lot of flak from the critics and audience for many of his movies. Films such as Darna Zaroori Hai, Nishabd, Ram Gopal Varma Ki Aag, Darling, Phoonk, and Agyaat received negative reviews, and RGV failed to deliver a decent Hindi movie for several years.

In 2013, Varma released theThe Attacks of 26/11, which was inspired by the gruesome 2008 Mumbai terror attacks. Although the movie received positive reviews and critical acclamation, it failed commercially. In the same year, RGV directed Satya 2, which was a standalone movie and not a sequel to the 1998 movie Satya. The movie received a mixed response at the box office. Soon after the release, RGV hinted that he would not be directing movies on the underworld anymore and would focus on making romantic movies.

In 2016, Ram Gopal Varma directed his first Kannada movie, Killing Veerappan, a docudrama. The movie is inspired by the true events that eventually led to the death of the notorious Indian bandit Veerappan. His other directorial credits include Sarkar 3 (2017), Lakshmi`s NTR (2019) and Murder (2020). In 2021, he directed two horror films which include 12 O Clock and Deyyam.

As a Producer

Three years after directing his first movie, Ram Gopal Varma ventured into production. In 1992, he produced and directed the horror flick Raat starring the south-Indian actress, Revathi. In 1998, he produced the Mani Ratnam movie, Dil Se. RGV has also produced many of the movies he has directed viz. Satya, Rangeela (1995), Love Ke Liye Kuch Bhi Karega (2001), Naach (2004), Sarkar (2005), and Darna Zaroori Hai (2006). While his other productions include Ab Tak Chappan (2004) and Ek Hasina Thi (2004).
Peers & More
Anurag Kashyap
S. S. Rajamouli
Mahesh Bhatt
Mani Ratnam
Ratna Varma
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Did You Know? (2)

  • Ram Gopal Varma has admitted on many occasions that he was a huge fan of the yesteryear actress Sridevi. As a matter of fact, he said that he came to films only because of her.
  • Before making it big in the film industry, Ram Gopal Varma was arrested once for renting out pirated video cassettes.
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