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December 27, 2001

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Subhash K Jha

Director Ram Gopal Varma is extremely reluctant to talk about Company.

As Ramu traversed three continents to film his great underworld epic featuring Ajay Devgan and debutant Vivek Oberoi as two friends turned gangsters, a unique work of rich and persuasive resonance came into being.

Company is certainly the most expensive and time-consuming work that the director of such films like Shiva, Satya, Daud, Kaun and Jungle has made. Until very recently, Ramu was too involved with Company and Road with Rajat Mukherjee as director, to talk about his films.

Ram Gopal Varma Now in a sudden introspective outburst Ramu says, "I don't know if Company is my best film. But nothing like it has been seen before. It has got fine moments of suspense. The audience won’t be able to tell where the excitement is coming from. It is very subtle. There's very little violence. In the entire film, you won’t see a drop of blood. But the impact is terrific."

There are several films about gangsters and criminals being readied for an early release. Among them, there's debutant director Vipul Shah’s Aankhen about a bank robbery, masterminded by a blind disgruntled bank manager played by Amitabh Bachchan. The film also stars Akshay Kumar and Arjun Rampal.

In Sanjay Gupta’s Kaante also, Amitabh Bachchan, Sanjay Dutt, Suniel Shetty and Kumar Gaurav undertake a daring bank heist.

Hansal Mehta's slick spin on the underworld Chhal sees cop Kay Kay Menon infiltrating an underworld gang to beat the sociopaths at their own game.

Where does Ramu’s Company fit into this crowded scheme of crime thrillers?

A still from Company Ramu, who triggered off the current chain of hard-hitting gang war sagas with his raw, real and ricocheting Satya says, "Satya was a candid and real film. It went into the mindset of the gangsters.

"Company is more distanced. It takes a macro view of the underworld. I've treated the whole subject in a classical manner, like Francis Coppola’s The Godfather. The shot compositions, treatment of the plot and camera movements are all larger than life. They aren’t real in the sense of Satya."

Ramu admits Company is an expensive film. "But the production costs have gone into recreating a classic realism, which audiences will take for granted. In one sense, Company does have a touch of Satya in it. For example, the opening sequence of Satya, when the producer was shot in the rain, was very realistic. Nobody realised that we had created the whole street in a studio and that vehicles parked belonged to the crew."

The special effects and visuals in Company accompany the narrative.

A still from Company In the film, Vivek Oberoi is almost unrecognisable with his two-day stubble, unbathed look, wearing his father's old pair of trousers. Ditto Manisha Koirala who plays Ajay Devgan’s love interest. She is so much in character she doesn’t seem to be acting for the camera.

The film is strewn with actors who get into character completely. Malyalam maverick Mohanlal plays a South Indian commissioner of police modelled on a real life character. He dispels the image of the screen cop as the gun toting macho man to play the law enforcer as the hero next door.

Chortles the director, "Unless people see where the money has gone, they aren't impressed. In Company, nothing is ostentatious."

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