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Interview Anurag Kashyap (Part 1) : A Man With A Vision

AUTHOR

Saakshi O. Juneja

Anurag Kashyap :
Making His Way in
Bollywood

Okay, agreed that I have been tad bit lazy with my Interview section and wont blame my folly onto others but my own self. Though I dont believe in
making New Year resolutions but this time round I have promised myself to indulge in activities that bring pure pleasure and interviewing people
excelling in their personal and/or professional lives happens to be one of them.
So with the New Year kicking in I present to you an interview with one of the most-talked about writer/director of recent months, who also happens
to be a blogger on a popular Bollywood blog, Mr. Anurag Kashyap.
Before you begin, would like to inform you that this interview took place about 5 months back (when Anurag had not formally announced his latest
venture No Smoking with John Abraham) so some of the things said might seem a bit outdated. Ya fine, you can sue me later.
Please tell us something about yourself before your journey into Bollywood?
I was in Delhi for further studies, totally clueless and confused. I was doing things that people are not supposed to be doing. I was very heavily in
drugs and totally mixed up as hell. My father wanted me back in Lucknow; he is GM in UP states Electricity board. I was studying Zoology and at
one point wanted to be a Scientist. But infact I just couldnt bring myself to settle on anything.
And what lead you to Bollywood?

A friend of mine in Delhi introduced me to a theatre group calledJannata Manch. We use to do a lot of street plays. And then I attended a Film
Festival in Delhi itself where I landed up seeing a total of 55 films. Movies from all different perspectives and in a way you can say that these films
changed my life and its meaning completely for me. Just that one film festival and I decided that this is what I want to be a part of in next five
months I was in Mumbai.
How did Paanch come about?
Paanch came about over a period of time. It started within the first six months of mine in the city; I basically had no place to stay and was practically
living on streets. Thankfully at that time father Francis of Xaviers college allowed me to stay at their hostel for a month, this I am talking was around
September 1993. Over there I use to hang out a lot with a band called Greek. I saw how they went about their life, their working as a band, their
struggles, their frustrations which I started writing done in bits and pieces. Can you believe I still have that tiny notebook with me! I wrote around
40 pages at that time, which came out like a script. And then after a year or two, I saw this Romeo & Julietplay by Vikram Kapadia where exVJ/musician Luke Kenney had played a role. I really liked Luke and was very impressed with his work. I had specifically written the character Luke
in Paanch for Luke Kenny. I met up with him later on and tough he was not-very interested in films but he said that he would go thru over it again.
Then he just disappeared after that.
Then we all we went on our own paths but the film was never completely written. The character Joy was actually written for Joy and then there this
friend of mine on whom I wrote the character Pondi and thats how everything started joining-up but still I had only those 40 pages. Then in 1995 I
started working with Shivam Nair (who has directed Ahista Ahista) who is basically my guru and helped me learn a lot of things. At that time he was
doing a crime-series and I ended up writing one episode for them. There was this research work going on over a real-life murder case which really
fascinated me. The characters in the murder case jelled with my incomplete movie. And once the show was out, I started working on my movie and
finished it by 1996-97 around the time I was also working on Satya.
How did you go about the casting of the film and landed up selecting most of the un-known faces then?
Well for starters I always had Kay Kay in mind. It was like a revenge thing for me because he was known as our guru types during our theatre days,
he and Makrand Deshpande. And during one play rehearsal they had actually locked me in a room for nearly 11 hours just to get one movement
right. Na jokes apart; I actually had Kay Kay in mind to play the role of the cop. Then I narrated the script to Ram Gopal Verma, which he liked but
nothing came about. Then I approached many people but no one was interested. Then I met up with Raveena Tandon and Manoj Bajpai, who were
very excited about it initially but that too flattened out because they kind of money they were expecting, etc. Nobody was ready to give me big
amount of money because the subject was too radical at that time.
During that time I did a short film with Kay Kay and thats when I discovered what a great actor he is And decided to take him for the lead role. The
movie was being produced by Sudhir Mishra who had given me a budget of 50 Lakhs for the film. After couple of months I bumped into Tejaswanni
at a Christmas party and felt that she was the right one for the film and landed up taking her in as well.
Then what happened was that I met up with Tutu Sharma since I was writing the story of one of the films he was producing. He then causally asked
me which other scripts I had written and I told him about Paanch. He got really excited with the script plus when he found out that his sister-in-law
Tejaswanni was also init, he wanted to be a part of it. Then he Sudhir pushed me towards him saying that Tutu was definitely a bigger producer and
the finance part for the film will also improve.
But the thing was that he wanted me to cast a few well-known names as well but I was just basically pissed-off with the industry. I mean, I had
walked out on Ram Gopal Verma, I left Mission Kashmir half way because I was not happy with the way things were shaping up and thenWater was

not happening because of well-known problems. Raveena and Manoj had backed out on me, so I had decided that I will make my film with only
newcomers.
But what made you have so much faith in newcomers?
See the thing with me is that I can only work with people who have trust in me. Who know me and know the way I work about things. Plus with
newcomers, you will see that they have a lot more hunger to work and do something good with their roles and their parts.
I mean today you look at where Kay Kay, everybody wants him in their movies. The cameraman of Paanch is today nearly the highest paid camera
man in the industry, working in big movies like Parineeta. The editor today is working with Nikhil Advani and Farhan Akhtar. The art director is also
very well recognized for his work and has done movies like Taxi 9 2 11. In all I feel that a great team came together at that time. You can say it was
also anger because everything was so star driven and it is still the same today.
Finally now I am also working with a star.
But then another reason was that I wanted to stick to my script even if it meant making a low-budget film. See, I believe a movie does well if it is
made well and not because God wants it to run well. Plus I like working with actors who are ready to give me all and these were the guys I had
worked in theatre with and they were ready to give their whole in my film.
What is the status on the films release?
Well that question only Mr. Tutu Sharma can answer. I have no idea.
How are things looking for the release of your 2nd movie, Black Friday?
Black Friday hopefully will release soon. Because for the last 10 years the court case is going but its most likely to be released soon.
What made you do a movie on Mumbai Riots?
Its because of the book. When I read the book by Mr. S. Hussain, it put everything for me in perspective. It kind off inspired me in many ways and I
decided to work on it. The book came to me via Mr. Mitra who wanted me to make a tele-series on it and I said lets make a movie. And then we
struggled for a structure for a very long and when that was locked down, I went and edited the film.
And then all this fiasco happened. The censor board had given a clean-chit to Black Friday, they even believed in Black Friday. Its just because of
the stay-order put by two accused in the Mumbai blasts case and because of them the film is stuck.
What do you think about the censor boards stand in todays Bollywood?
See the censor board is changing gradually. I am against issue like when they had asked to ban cigarette smoking in films. I mean how can you do
something like this, if you it to be banned the do it completely. But the fact is our government doesnt have the balls to ban manufacturing of
cigarette or tobacco for that matter. But they cant do so because of the stacks load of money involved.
Basically films and cinema is a soft target for everybody. Be it religion, communities or government. There are too many other censors in this
country. The actual censor board is for that matter redundant because today any and everyone can raise a voice against a film, be it for just or unjust reasons.

But if you ask me personally, I am anti-censorship.


So in your opinion censorship should be abolished?
Yes. See what I mean is that when you go abroad to a movie store likeVirgin or something, there you will find all varieties of films be it movies for
kids or porn films. Basically a person should be given the right to decide what he/she wants to watch and incase of us directors/producers what we
want to make.
You can have the age certification for films forget 18, say under 21 cant watch this film or people who cant think for themselves cant watch it. But
you cant ban or cut films.
There are many who feel that the Indian censor board is partial and they tend to favor a few well-known production houses. What is your
take on this?
Censor board is not partial but completely partial and biased. For me, firstly they are not uniform. They dont maintain the same standards for all, for
example when it comes to Yash Raj Films all of sudden all government rules, bans, etc everything relaxes.
For instance, its very difficult to shoot at railway stations and trains and its really difficult to get permissions. But in Bunty Aur Babli for Ranis train
song they broke a train window, they basically destroyed government property. A film like Neil n Nikki gets a U certificate for God sake. But nobody
points a finger at them where as others get pulled up for even minor issues.
Even Salaam Namaste had a kissing scene init, I am not saying ban them but when there were other films with similar scenes these people made
huge issues over them but not on Yash Raj Banner. It basically boils down to where you are coming from and how big your backing is.
Another example is of my film Paanch. They wanted me to cut the scene where the word Chutiya was used. I told them that such words were used
in films like Satya, which they had cleared then why not here. They just said that you cant use past examples in here or talk about other films. In
short, there are too many egos you have to deal with when you sit with those four people and everyone has their own agenda. So thats the
problem. Its like they have wooden cane for low-budget films, iron cane for others and golden cane for others.
But thankfully things are changing for the better over time with changing of chairmanship. And hopefully they will attain uniformity while
implementing their policies.
Okay folks, this is it for today guess the lazy factor is again setting in. But I assure you this is just the garnish; the actual spiciness would be
presented in the second part of my conversation with Hindi cinemas generation X director. The next half looks at Anurags passion for direction, his
thoughts on crossover cinema, remakes of old classics, his relationships and much more.