Sudheer Varma: Ranarangam will have a sequel
The director talks about his inspirations, prospects of a sequel, and the delays in filming of this period gangster drama
Director Sudheer Varma has teamed up with actors Sharwanand, Kajal Aggarwal and Kalyani Priyadarshan for a gangster drama titled Ranarangam. Set in the backdrop of 90s Visakhapatnam, it is the story of a bootlegger who ran the illegal liquor business like an organised crime syndicate. The film shows the Mahanubhavudu actor in two distinct avatars — as a 25-year-old and later as a 45-year-old.
"The film is set during the times when there was total prohibition by the then NT Ramarao government. The story flips between present and past showing how Deva (Sharawanand) started his bootlegging business, and charts his rise up the ranks of this crime syndicate. The reason for choosing Visakhapatnam as the backdrop was because we needed a city that establishes the protagonist's growth into a gangster. Also, it's close to Orissa and smuggling alcohol from that state and getting it delivered to homes/other places had been the illegal trade then," begins Sudheer Varma.
The Swamy Ra Ra director owes his inspirations to the gangster films he’s consumed as a viewer. "Francis Ford Coppola's The Godfather series has become classic literature for gangster/mafia films. I think no one else has been able to recreate the kind of impact his films made. The screenplay of Ranarangam is inspired by this classic. It's the USP of the film. There is also a train sequence which was inspired by The Assassination of Jesse James."
Ranarangam as been in the making for two years, and there were several reports that the film had exceeded its stipulated budget. It was also speculated that Sudheer demanded the reshoot of certain portions. However, the director clears the air. "We had shot the film in Kakinada port, but it became difficult for us to recreate the times when mobile phones didn't exist. So we constructed a coastal city set in the aluminum factory. The art director needed some time to complete it," he says, adding, "Sharwa too was shooting for Padi Padi Leche Manasu (2018). As Ranarangam requires him to appear in two different avatars with different hairstyles, I used his existing hairdo for one of the roles, and had to wait for him to complete the other part. We also had to wait for Kajal Aggarwal's dates and then we went to Spain to shoot some portions. The post-production had started early this year and the first copy was ready by the end of July."
Ask him why he had chosen a serious word like Ranarangam as the title, and Sudheer replies, "It means a battlefield. Our producer S Naga Vamsi suggested it as he felt this title would be in sync with the story of a gangster who wages a battle every day in his life. Initially, we finalised Dalapathi, but it was registered by some other producers."
So will there be a sequel to Ranarangam? Sudheer reveals, "I never considered making a sequel to any of my films. After Swamy Ra Ra, many filmmakers urged me to work on a sequel. But I didn't get an interesting idea. To answer your question, Sharwanand has suggested an exciting line with a different perspective to Ranarangam. I will definitely love to recreate this world of gangsters, provided it turns out to be a successful project this Friday."