Mumbai: Filmmaker Ram Gopal Verma courted controversy when he expressed his desire to cast Maria Susairaj in his film and the director clarifies his point saying that he won`t hesitate just because of what happened to the actress and that he finds trial by people outside the judiciary juvenile.
"If I`ve a role for her I won`t hesitate just because of what happened to her. Am I being insensitive to Neeraj Grover`s family? I understand how hurt they must be. But in a civilized society you can`t become the law and the judiciary and decide the quantum of punishment. I find this trial by people outside the judiciary very juvenile," said Varma.
Kannada actress Mariah Monica Susairaj, who was sentenced to three years in jail by a Mumbai court for destroying evidence in the May 2008 killing of television executive Neeraj Grover, was released from jail last month after being acquitted.
Her co-accused and fiance, ex-naval officer Emile Jerome Mathew was sentenced to 10 years jail term after the court found him `guilty of culpable homicide not amounting to murder`.
Varma`s forthcoming film "Not A Love Story" is inspired by the incident and both Maria Susairaj and Emile have sent a legal notices questioning the content of the film.
Varma said: "My lawyers are replying to both of them in an appropriate manner. That is all I can say right now."
Excerpts from the interview:
Q: Both Maria Susairaj and Emile Jerome have sent you legal notices questioning the content of your film "Not A Love Story"?
A: My film is inspired from a true story. They`ve been misinformed that it`s based on their lives. My lawyers are replying to both of them in an appropriate manner. That is all I can say right now.
Q: "Not A Love Story" has kissing scenes. This is a first for Ram Gopal Varma?
A: Maybe I`ve just grown up. Jokes apart, the intensity of the emotions between the couple is very high in "Not A Love Story". There are three long kissing scenes between Deepak Dobriyal and Mahie Gill. I`ve to confess, I`ve never had couples kissing in my films before.
Q: Are you serious about signing the real Susairaj?
A: See, the reason why I wanted to do film inspired by the Susairaj incident is because we heard suddenly in 2008 of a man and woman killing and cutting up a man`s body into pieces. It was too horrific. When you think of it, you wonder what could`ve prompted this behaviour. I wanted to capture the psychology behind the crime. That`s why I made "Not A love Story".
When I researched for the film, I discovered so many things that never came out in the media. Maria Sausairaj had no criminal record of psychopathic or criminal behaviour. What we read about the case was so superficial.
Q: So what are you suggesting we should be sympathetic towards her?
A: After three years the judge says she`s only guilty of destroying evidence. Why did she destroy the evidence? Was it fear or guilt? Without knowing the motive behind her killing everyone suddenly pounced on her pronouncing her a killer. It`s bizarre. How does anyone know she`s a killer? If the judiciary says she is not, she is not.
Q: So are you signing her?
A: If I`ve a role for her I won`t hesitate just because of what happened to her. Am I being insensitive to Neeraj Grover`s family? I understand how hurt they must be. But in a civilized society you can`t become the law and the judiciary and decide the quantum of punishment. I find this trial by people outside the judiciary very juvenile.
Q: The baggage of her supposedly savage deed doesn`t bother you?
A: But we don`t know what happened in that apartment! Is she a psychopath or a serial killer? Emotional outbursts branding her a criminal don`t work for me. Anyone who claims she`s a killer after the courts have freed her is just being foolish. Were these people hiding under the bed in Maria Susairaj`s flat when the crime happened? How do they know better than the judiciary? Why attack the girl?
Q: Have you taken this empathetic view in your film?
A: My film is not about Susairaj. My point is, how can something so brutal happen in a city like Mumbai? Yes, the incidents in my film are similar to Susairaj`s case. But it`s not her biopic.
Q: Then why did you shoot it in her apartment block?
A: I wanted to capture the authenticity of the crime. When I shot `Satya`, I went to the locations where the crime happened. At the end of the day, I want to capture the reality of the situation to the best of my abilities.