"I have always believed that a location in a film should be treated like a character", says Ram Gopal Varma who has placed Jungle as an important character in the narrative of Agyaat, "In the right context and right composition scene, you will almost feel as if the location is alive and will have a recall value long after you have seen the film." He goes on to give the examples of films like Sarkar and Bhoot where the film's setting, a house/apartment, played an important role in getting the ambience right for the film's narrative.
"Do you know that the house in which I shot Sarkar is now referred to as the 'Sarkar house' by people in the industry", questions Ramu, "Many films have been shot at that location before, but it comes to life only in Sarkar and that's because of the context it's been put into. I wanted to capture an emotional aspect of the feeling when we look at the house of a man [Sarkar, played by Amitabh Bachchan] towards whom we have awe in our hearts. So it's really the feeling which is being captured with a combination of the composition, background score and its placement in the edit. "
One can see the Bhoot reference coming too, considering the film began with an aerial view of the apartment in which the ghost of Manjit resides, an image that has stayed on for years.
"Exactly", says Ramu, "In Bhoot, the apartment and its building became synonymous with Manjit the ghost. Repeatedly using the same angles and compositions in that apartment created an effect of a character coming in to the film again and again. Also by making the geography of the apartment very clear to the audience I created an effect of the viewer feeling that he himself is living there."
It is being said that even though Bhoot was released six years back, the apartment is still not occupied by people. "Yes, I have been told about this. In fact the owner of the apartment just uses that space to store some old furniture", he smiles.
Revealing the Psycho connection, he adds, "Very few films give this much importance to locations and hence we rarely remember locations in films. The first time I felt this impact was in Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho. The house in Psycho looks as sinister as the killer and this is not because of its architecture but because of the context in which it has been put into."
Well, something sinister is expected from Agyaat as well where a Jungle plays a key character. A co-production of UTV Motions Pictures and Ram Gopal Varma, Agyaat mainly stars newcomers and is all set for a July 2009 release.
Ok, so we know that out of the four films being mentioned here - Agyaat, Psycho, Bhoot and Sarkar - three have been directed by Ram Gopal Varma. But what is Psycho doing in this list? Well, as per Ram Gopal Varma, who is just back from the shoot of Agyaat in Sigiriya Black Jungle, Sri Lanka, the 'location' factor plays an important role in each of these films. In fact he also insists that location is one of THE characters in these films because that's what enables a 'recall' value of the film.