Anurag Kashyap: I don't work in groups; will fight my own battles
The director talks about his new film Ugly and his newest run-in with the Indian Censor Board, among other things.
Anurag Kashyap's last directorial venture, the epic Gangs of Wasseypur, hit the marquee in 2012.
He subsequently went back to promoting promising new writers by producing films like Vasan Bala's Peddlers, Bengali filmmaker Q's Tasher Desh, Ritesh Batra's The Lunchbox and Hansal Mehta's National award-winning Shahid.
Two years on, he is back in the director's chair.
Ugly, his newest film, is a psychological thriller that is centred around a child's kidnapping and has been screened at the Cannes and New York India Film Festivals.
While it is set to open in Indian theatres in September this year, it was recently premiered at the ongoing Ladakh International Film Festival.
Kashyap, who is excited about Ugly's prospects, talks to Rediff.com's Patcy N about the changing times in Bollywood, box-office success and whether he'll ever direct a romantic film.
Ugly, like your previous films, is dark. What attracts you to dark stories?
A film like Ugly awakens you. When people saw this film, the first thing they did was call their children. The effect it had on them was very positive.
This film is very important to me as it comes from a very personal space and fear.
This is what I see around me all the time in a world obsessed with gadgets and money.
Are you concerned for your daughter Aaliya?
What is the purest thing in the world? It is the relationship that you share with your children and from that love stems the fear of losing them.
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Image: Anurag Kashyap at the screening of Ugly at the Ladakh International Film Festival
Photographs: Reuben NV/Rediff.com
'Everything is judged on the basis of how much money it has made'
What kind of research work went into this film?
I have researched a lot on this film. It is an ongoing process, sometimes when I am researching for one film, I discover a story for another.
Can you give us an instance when that happened?
While working on Black Friday in 2006, I came across a story that subsequently became one of the subplots in Ugly with minor changes.
Ugly is based on three different real-life incidents that I merged to make one new story. These incidents occurred in Mumbai and Uttar Pradesh.
How do you think cinema and it's various aspects have changed over the years?
Today, a kid on the street wouldn't know what cinema is but he will be aware of a film's box office figures.
When we were kids, we did not know how much Sholay had earned, which film is good and which is not; our parents would tell us, 'don't see this film it's not good for you.'
Things are changing rapidly. Everything is judged on the basis of how much money it has made, it is a scary place to be in, and look what money is doing to people.
Image: Anurag Kashyap with Deepti Naval at the Ladakh Film Fest
Photographs: Reuben NV/Rediff.com
'I don't make films for box office success'
Do you think Ugly will be a success?
I don't make films for box office success.
If I think like that, I will not be able to make a film.
My whole idea is to make a film the best way I can and make it at the least possible cost, like the budget of this film is around Rs 4-5 crore.
Even my most expensive film -- Bombay Velvet -- which cost me Rs 90 crore, is very less if you compare it to the current numbers of other films.
What is the word on Bombay Velvet?
We are done shooting and editing. Plan is to release it on November 20.
I don't want to say anything more than that.
Image: Movie poster of Ugly
'Ugly is not for children'
Can you tell us about your disagreement with the Censor Board over them putting the 'No Smoking' logo in Ugly?
If you see the film, in a very crucial moment where Ronit Roy's character holds a cigarette in his hand, he doesn't even light it.
But they want to put a logo there, it's a distraction for the audience, why do you need a ticker when the character is not even smoking?
Anyway, I fought for it to be removed and I lost.
Do you think if all the producers and filmmakers came together in support of removing these warnings from films, it'd work?
I don't think so.
I don't work in groups, I will fight my own battles, and deal with my own films.
What about the use of abusive language in the film?
I have asked for a strictly 'A' certificate, this film is not for children.
That said, the language I have used in the film is the kind of the language that is used in everyday life.
Image: Ronit Roy in Ugly
'I don't want to outdo anyone; I want to do my own thing'
When will we see you making romantic films?
For me Dev D and Bombay Velvet are romantic films.
India's idea of romantic films is false.
Why do you want me to make films like other directors?
I don't have to prove anything; I am not looking at scoring box office hits, I don't want to outdo anyone. I want to do my own thing.
I just take responsibility for my films; I don't want anyone to lose money on my film.
I have no idea.
For now, I have Ugly, Bombay Velvet and a television serial (Yudh).
Image: Anurag Kashyap with daughter Aaliya