Ram Gopal Varma's last hit was 12 years ago. How then is he able to consistently make movies?

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fairly easy
Movies cost big money. How does a director, even if he is Ram Gopal Varma, make movies one after the other despite several box office bombs?
Ram Gopal Varma has a new movie in the works. Once upon a time in Bollywood, the news would have caused a flutter. The Varma movies were celebrated by the critic and the fan. Remember, the crime noir Satya? Who can forget Rangeela?

Those movies now seem a lifetime ago. Varma's last hit Phoonk was delivered more than a decade back. The 2008 movie, made at a budget of Rs 5 crore, collected Rs 14 crore at the box office.

Varma's career graph is actually dotted with box office failures. Of the nearly 50 Hindi films he has made in a three-decade career, he has only one blockbuster and four genuine hits to his name. Two were what in Bollywood parlance would be described as semi-hits. Nine were average, meaning they barely recovered costs. As many as 34 films were duds.

Yet, Varma is able to consistently churn out movies. Film-making is not like say, writing a book. There is big money riding on the enterprise and losses can hurt a gaggle of stakeholders ranging from producers to actors to distributors.

Varma's movies are not just box office bombs, but are widely panned. Take for example RGV ki Aag. The 2007 film failed miserably at the box office. It was made at a budget of Rs 21 crore, but amassed just Rs 7 crore. Critics hated it. Rajeev Masand called it a bad joke, saying writing a review amounts to dignifying a third-rate film.

The verdict for Naach, a bomb from 2004, was that it lacked — "spine" — and a script. Nishabd left everyone speechless in ways Varma would have not imagined. Critics called it lead actor Amitabh Bachchan's biggest mistake. The flops continued—My Wife's Murder, James, Mr ya Miss— and vanished without a whimper at the box office.

Few movie directors of the stature of Varma have had such a bad run. His peer David Dhawan who started making movies around the same time as Varma has directed 43 films. At least 23 were hits. While their movies are as different as chalk and cheese, Dhawan's last film Judwaa 2, a remake of his 1997 namesake title,…
Maryam Farooqui
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