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

Anurag Kashyap : Making His Way in Bollywood

Okay, agreed that I have been tad bit lazy with my Interview section and won’t blame my folly onto others but my own self. Though I don’t 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not formally announced his latest venture “No Smoking” with John Abraham) so some of the things said might seem a bit outdated.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 state’s Electricity board. I was studying Zoology and at one point wanted to be a Scientist. But infact I just couldn’t bring myself to settle on anything.

And what lead you to Bollywood?

A friend of mine in Delhi introduced me to a theatre group called Jannata 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 it’s 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 Xavier’s 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 & Juliet play by Vikram Kapadia where ex-VJ/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 that’s 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 that’s 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 then Water 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 film’s 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 it’s most likely to be released soon.

What made you do a movie on Mumbai Riots?

It’s 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. It’s 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 board’s stand in today’s 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 doesn’t have the balls to ban manufacturing of cigarette or tobacco for that matter. But they can’t 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 un-just 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 like Virgin 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 can’t watch this film or people who can’t think for themselves can’t watch it. But you can’t 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 don’t 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, it’s very difficult to shoot at railway stations and trains and it’s really difficult to get permissions. But in Bunty Aur Babli for Rani’s 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 can’t 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 that’s 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 cinema’s generation X director. The next half looks at Anurag’s passion for direction, his thoughts on “crossover cinema”, remakes of old classics, his relationships and much more.

So watch this space for the other half.

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But I would like to warn you, if you are a die-hard Anurag Kashyap fan, you might as well bump off this piece of cynicism. Because lets face the fact here, you will never agree to what I say or think and I would not budge either. When I interviewedAnuragKashyap sometime around last year, I loved the man. I never had doubts over his artistic capabilities but what impressed me the most, was his bold outlook towards the Hindi Film Industry. Despite many failures, his passion for his films took precedence

Pingback by 2.0 estyle — September 16, 2007 at 8:34 am | #


14 comments | Add your comment »

Jan 4th, 2007 at 2:46 am | #

nice questions. and responses for that matter. especially the one on censorship.

by the way…i am in ur city lady…whats the best way to get in touch with you?

Jan 4th, 2007 at 8:58 am | #

Well it’s my personal opinion that Anurag has changed since he has got going with his film with a Bollywood bigie John Abraham. And this is so much evident from his recent publicity hounding stunts.

It seems that the glamour bug has bitten him too. Sad what a waste of excellant talent.

Jan 4th, 2007 at 11:38 am | #

Hey Sakshi,

Just a note: your post is ifficult to read as it teh context comes of the main column. I’m not sure if thats browser issues on my side but thought i’d let you know.

Good interview.

Saakshi O. Juneja
Jan 5th, 2007 at 6:26 am | #

Sangeeta – Thanks for dropping by. Well my blog gets properly displayed on “FireFox” but with IE it does have some issues. Will get those fixed very soon. :)

Jan 6th, 2007 at 2:18 am | #

Hi Sakshi,
Do you have more information abuot the short film he did with Kay Kay?

Jan 6th, 2007 at 4:24 am | #

George: I know that AK made a 1 hour telefilm as part of Star Bestsellers (Star Plus) where Kay Kay plays a serial killer in jail visited by a rookie journalist, and tries to convince her of his innocence (not revealing the twist ;-) ). Perhaps, that’s what he’s talking about.
Nice interview, Sakshi.

Saakshi O. Juneja
Jan 6th, 2007 at 5:41 am | #

Ramanand – Thanks for the info. :)

Jan 21st, 2007 at 8:08 pm | #

After eagerly awaiting to see movie version of the life of Dhiurbhai Ambani, I made it at Naaz theater at Artesia/LA/California/USA. It is in 2nd week running here and crowd was sizable compared to other movies showing at the same theater. Here they screen the movie as soon as screen opens and in interval they show forth coming attractions. During this time they showed as forth coming attraction AK’s “BLACK FRIDAY”. Public was spellbound at what was shown on the screen. I immediately remembered the horror of those days immediately after Ayodhya mosque demolitions. I have a lived at Mahim and I was witness to so many scenes and mob furies those days. It seems that I will end up possessing DVD of the movie whenever it becomes available. It seems to be a powere packed movie!!

May 8th, 2007 at 12:34 pm | #

good interview. thanks.

i am really interested to know about the life and struggle of Anurag Kashyap. He came as the visiting professor to our college – Sri Aurobindo Inst. of Mass Comm. Delhi. He shared some. they really inspired me. can i get some more info about him , his past life, his early days, his struggle days in Mumbai etc.

ashok kujur chere
new delhi

May 26th, 2007 at 2:57 pm | #

hey there is a problem wit u r blog \till today………can i get anurags no. .he ismy idol..i reas his blog everyday

Vivek Tiwari
Jul 21st, 2007 at 7:10 am | #

Hi Sakshi, Just came across your interview with Anurag Kashyap. The guy has tremendous potential… i don’t know if you came across the slow seething fire inside the mild cute smile. I have known him.. from School days.. Was a year senior to him… Paanch, his debut, though based on a true incident, has touches to his characters from his personal life, coz the incident he has based the movie took place when he was a kid. Having known him & having seen both Paanch & Black Friday ( courtsey our friendship … i paid to see black friday again with my life.. i owed him that ) Am sure we have a Govind Nihalani in making. Thanks for the beautiful interview with Anurag. Convey my best wishes to him if you are in touch with him… His cell numbers change faster than his clothes and am not able to keep up. As for you. it was good job for a lazy person… Congrats.

Oct 10th, 2007 at 7:09 am | #

Sakshi, it was a very readable interview..kudos…and you know what after reading your Anurag Kashyap post…I visited his web site…but I find your blog 100 times more readable than Anurag Kashyap’s simply because of the design..Keep blogging, dear..

Nov 4th, 2007 at 3:50 am | #

You idiot. you have spoiled my saturday. we lost our 2 dollars in getting your movie CD. Don’t even dare to make one more new movie. Please spare us in this life.

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Sakshi Juneja

We all have a right to express our views. In many instances; it will be against ours and in some; with us. To hear them out is 'decency' but to let them get to you is 'weakness'. More info »

I also blog at DesiDabba and DesiCritics


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