Ram Gopal Varma's 'Shasikala' plan catches AIADMK, Sasikala off guard

Coming soon to a theatre near you will be Shasikala. That is if filmmaker Ram Gopal Varma's planned cinematic venture on the life and times of VK Sasikala, the trusted confidante of former Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa does not get dragged to the courts. Given the AIADMK's penchant for intimidating opponents through legal battles, chances of Varma's venture landing up in court are quite high.

Varma hopes to get around that rather simplistically. His central character is called Shasikala, not Sasikala. The extra 'H' is RGV's fig leaf to claim this is his own story and a fictional character.

 Ram Gopal Varmas Shasikala plan catches AIADMK, Sasikala off guard

Sasikala.

On Thursday, the day the AIADMK spokesperson announced that Sasikala will be the next general secretary of the party, Varma registered the title of the film. Explaining the rationale for making the film on Sasikala, Varma tweeted saying he respected Jayalalithaa but he respected Sasikala much more. "Jayalalithaa ji respected Sasikala ji much more than she respected anybody else proves why I should call my film Shasikala," he tweeted.

"I find it fascinating that just a close confidante of a person in power can create so much turbulence in so many ways," says Varma. The filmmaker claims he is essentially interested in Sasikala, the person. Varma who has just started writing the script says the film will deal with the period from the time Sasikala first met Jayalalithaa, till the former CM's death.

"It will be the biography of Sasikala's journey with Amma," explains Varma. "I think Amma seen from the point of view of someone so close to her will be much more interesting." He plans to speak to people who have known the 59-year-old Sasikala over the past four decades.

"This will be an outside interpretation of happenings on a public domain mixed with personal information from sources close to her, who may not wish to be named," says Varma. As of now, RGV does not plan to seek permissions from anyone before shooting the film. The AIADMK taken by surprise by Varma's move has not formulated its stand on the filmmaker's decision, as it is preoccupied with more pressing matters of succession.

Through his career, Varma has shown a fascination with making movies on real life characters. His Company in 2002 was a take on the underworld war between Dawood Ibrahim and Chotta Rajan. His Rakta Charitra in 2010 is one of the best movies to capture the politics of blood and gore in Andhra Pradesh's Rayalaseema region.

More recently, Varma captured the life of forest brigand Veerappan. The movie received rave reviews for his lead character's uncanny resemblance to the bandit and the stylish manner in which it was shot in the forests of Karnataka. Varma's Telugu venture Vangaveeti which is based on the life of politician Vangaveeti Mohana Ranga and the violent gang warfare and politics of Vijayawada in the 70s and the 80s in Andhra Pradesh will release on 23 December. Varma who himself grew up in Vijayawada and has experienced the turbulence firsthand has said that making a film on the controversial politician was his dream project. Like Veerappan's wife who went to court against the movie, Ranga's family has also raised objections to Vangaveeti.

"Real life stories are fascinating because they deal with real emotions and hence the connect is much more," says Varma, explaining his obsession with people rooted in present-day politics and conflicts.

Interestingly, both Sasikala and Ram Gopal Varma have one thing in common. Both have been video library owners, back in the era when video cassettes were a rage.

The last big budget movie made on the life and times of Dravidian politicians was Mani Ratnam's Iruvar in 1997, in which Mohanlal played MGR. Jayalalithaa's role was essayed by Aishwarya Rai while Prakash Raj played Karunanidhi. Varma is undecided if Shasikala will be only in Tamil or will have a Telugu and Hindi version as well.

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Updated Date: Dec 16, 2016 16:06:13 IST