By Jyothi Venkatesh
Hailed as a maverick filmmaker with a mind of his own, who is interested in experimenting with all genres of films, whether it is PAANCH, NO SMOKING, GULAL OR GANGS OF WASSEYPUR, ANURAG KASHYAP is one filmmaker who believes in making the kinds of films that he is making. Today, as he celebrates his 50th birthday, I reproduce this old interview taken with ANURAG KASHYAP after the world premiere of GANGS OF WASSEYPUR 2 at Siri Fort Auditorium which was jam packed with around 2000 people watching it almost 11 years ago
Ramgopal Verma’s two-part film RAKTHCHARITRA was a disaster. What are your expectations from your sequel to GANGS OF WASSEYPUR?
I have always maintained that in a two-part film, the second one has got to be better than the first one. I’d say that GANGS OF WASSEYPUR 2 is more fun and less of a documentary. I should be honest enough to confess to you that GANGS OF WASSEYPUR 1 exceeded our expectations and I am now looking forward to the public as well as the media verdict to GANGS OF WASSEYPUR 2. I’d not hesitate to state that GANGS OF WASSEYPUR is my best work till date.
How would you evaluate your growth as a filmmaker over the years?
I’d be honest enough to confess that over the years, as a filmmaker, I have become very dishonest. If I continue to be honest, I do not think that I can continue to make the kind of films that I am making today. I’d say that the system has now made me dishonest.
What is Cinema according to you?
Cinema is one medium through which we are able to discover culture and time. It is through cinema that I set out to see the world when I did not have a passport. I have also grown with Cinema.
Can you throw some light on your project BOMBAY VELVET?
BOMBAY VELVET is that it is going to be a different film which will be Mumbai-centric. People ask me whether I am averse to casting stars in my films. It will have Ranbir Kapoor in the lead. It will be about Bombay in the 60’s and hence will set out to present glimpses of the 60’s which have been kept alive by Dev Anand’s Navketan’s Black & White films.
Is it true that BOMBAY VELVET is a part of a trilogy that you are going to make?
It is not a trilogy, but I want to make three different films altogether on Bombay set in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. Hopefully, I will launch BOMBAY VELVET in April 2013.
What ails Cinema today?
There is no individual producer now. We are no longer making films which have shelf life. The bitter truth is that most of the filmmakers today do not care about films at all, because the trend now is to make films to appease the moment and see that it makes the maximum money in the first three days of its run.
Also read: Aakash Dahiya of Delhi Crime 2: “Audiences are upset with the character that I play, but happy with my performance”
What is the remedy?
We have to change our attitude towards cinema. Till our constitution describes Cinema as entertainment and we continue to treat Cinema as timepass and the public has this mind-set that since I am paying 200 bucks to watch a film, I want to be entertained, no one will take Cinema seriously.
Would you blame the government?
The film industry is the most taxed industry. The government should plough back the money that it collects from the film industry by way of taxes and see to it that people are able to watch good films at cheaper rates of tickets and create the space and show films.
People say that you try to make intellectual films in order to stand out in the industry!
I make the kind of movies that come to me naturally, since that is what I know the best. Why should there be a herd mentality in the film industry? Different kinds of people ought to make entirely different kinds of films instead of making Xeroxes of one another’s films.
Do you think that the audiences have changed over the years?
Definitely. That is only because the generation has changed a lot. I watch films with my daughter, and I have absolutely no qualms confessing that my daughter hates my films. I show my daughter some old films in Black &White, she will find the songs to be painstakingly slow paced and the films extremely boring, though I used to enjoy watching the same films say 25 years ago.
Is there any filmmaker who you derive your inspiration from?
I would not say that I derive my inspiration from any particular filmmaker, because I have a mind of my own and think and write. Yet I’d not hesitate to give credit to Ramgopal Varma because he is one filmmaker who never broke box office records with his films, but his films have impacted a generation of filmgoers who make films today. Remember that PYAASA received a lot of accolades, but it did not click at the box office.
What do you feel when you look back?
It has been 19 years since I entered the film industry. In other words, I have given 19 years of my life for continuing to do what I believe in. It took me twelve years to get a houseful audience for my film GANGS OF WASSEYPUR, though it does not boast of mega stars. Manoj Bajpayee was the only known star whereas the rest of them were all newcomers in GANGS OF WASSEYPUR. As a filmmaker, I’d say that it has been a slow and gradual process for me. I wanted to bring about a change, but I did not know where I fitted and hence, I had to literally fight for myself to get the space that I realized that I fitted in.
Can you elucidate?
Though my debut film as a filmmaker PAANCH could never see the light of the day and my film BLACK FRIDAY was even banned by the government, I have survived even by making flops only because all of them have shelf life. People know that my films may not work immediately but ten years hence they will definitely work. Slowly with consistency, I have built up a reputation of my own over the years and people say that I am now a brand name. Though it is not at all true that there is a big queue of big producers wanting to make films with me, if it helps me make films, I do not mind being hailed as a brand.
Also read: ‘Lata-Didi’s blessings are my priceless birthday-gifts,’ iconic melody-queen Asha Bhosle would always say.
Do you think filmmakers today are able to get moneybags to back them easily?
I am thankful to Viacom 18 for backing me and GANGS OF WASSEYPUR all the way. I had made UDAAN entirely on my own steam. It is up to us not to take undue advantage of them, because it is only because of backers like Viacom 18 that even after two years, we will be able to make a film like GANGS OF WASSEYPUR and yet rake in 200 crores at the box office.
In what way has the success of GANGS OF WASSEYPUR benefitted you as a filmmaker?
I have received a lot of acclaim, appreciation and acceptance after a lot of years. I treasure the text message that I received from an actor like Amitabh Bachchan (who has always been my favorite actor) and quite a few others who I revere. The stupendous success of GANGS OF WASSEYPUR has now fetched me the freedom to make the kind of films that I want to make without bowing down to the pressures of the market forces and also bestowed a lot of strength on me as a filmmaker.