'We are celebrating the love between two women’
...said director Ram Gopal Varma, joined by actors Apsara Rani and co-star Naina Ganguly, as they discussed their upcoming film, Dangerous, which is billed as ‘India's first lesbian crime drama’
From Urmila Matondkar and JD Chakravarthy to Aftab Shivdasani and Antara Mali, careers have been created or made by director Ram Gopal. Now, the maverick director is aiming to extend this touch to actors Apsara Rani and Naina Ganguly in his upcoming Hindi film, Dangerous. The film will also get released in Tamil and Telugu as Kaadhal Kaadhal Dhaan and Dangerous, respectively. The director and the cast fielded questions in a media interaction ahead of the film's release on April 8.
While both Apsara and Naina have acted in Telugu before, this project marks their first appearance in Tamil, and Ram Gopal Varma showered praises on both actors for choosing such a film. "When I started work on the project, my main concern was about the casting. I was also worried about how the families and friends of the actors would react to them playing lesbians. Since I have many years of experience, I can afford to experiment once in a while, but as young actors, it was really courageous on their part," said Ram Gopal Varma.
Strong mutual admiration existed between Apsara and Naina, who shared the importance of such support from co-actors, especially when filming intimate scenes. "Initially, I was hesitant shooting such sequences, but RGV sir instilled the confidence that as an actor, it is my job to perform. In fact, both Apsara and RGV sir who made me comfortable about playing the role of Nalini," says Naina, adding she imbibed the body language of men to give her role a unique dimension. "If our audience is comfortable watching such films in Hollywood, why can't we do the same? It is a great opportunity to get such roles," said Naina.
Expressing her elation about the response to the teaser and songs, Apsara shared that although the film dealt with a taboo topic, she hopes that it will all be normalised soon. "When he shared the script with me, I didn't even pause before giving the nod. I strongly believe we should not judge anybody, and hope that people are not questioned for their choices and sexuality. Dangerous is a film that celebrates the love between two women," said Apsara.
When asked what makes this film different from others like Fire and Girlfriend that shone light on lesbian relationships, RGV said, "A lot of movies made on same-sex relationships almost had a patronising tone. It was given the ‘abnormal’ tag to evoke sympathy. In my film, I wanted this sexuality to be incidental. The film is a crime drama that revolves around a couple who happen to be lesbians. Just like how the relationship between a typical hero and heroine gets taken for granted, here too, the equation between the characters is immaterial."
Having been a director whose films have crossed language barriers, it’s interesting that RGV’s recent films have mostly starred non-stars and have largely come out to lukewarm reception. RGV replied, "I have never made commercial formula films. I only prefer doing genre films." Continuing to be bombarded with questions, the conversation veered towards RGV's tag of being controversy's favourite child. "People have a lot of differing opinions. I like controversies mainly because I am bored of normal people," said a laughing RGV, and added, "I do understand that Dangerous could face resistance from judgmental people and ones with conservative values, but I do believe it breaks many traditions and rules in cinema, and it can give birth to a new genre."
With biopics being all the rage right now, and RGV himself having contributed to this fad with films like Killing Veerappan, the interaction came to a close with a question about a prospective Sridevi biopic. RGV, a self-confessed Sridevi fan, answered it in characteristic style, and said, "I don't think I can do one because I can't find anyone to play Sridevi."