Anurag Kashyap: I'd rather work with actors than stars
Anurag Kashyap has reached where he is now the hard way. That probably explains why the maverick filmmaker has taken to providing a platform to budding filmmakers who share his vision and ideology on films. After Udaan, Beejoy Nambiar is getting ready under Anurag's aegis to release his directorial debut Shaitan.
In conversation with Sonil Dedhia, Anurag talks about his upcoming film Shaitan, his brand of films and his equation with the newer crop of filmmakers.
What was it about Shaitan that appealed to you?
It is because of Kalki (Koechlin, Anurag's wife) that I met Bejoy. He used to come home to discuss her role and at that time, Shaitan was a very big project. I was not supposed to produce the film but the film got stuck for almost two years as no one was ready to finance it. So I told Bejoy that if he doesn't find any financers, I would produce the film.
I just had one condition that I won't be able to make it on a big budget. Just two months before he started shooting for the film, he approached me to produce the film.
We see shades of your first film Paanch in Shaitan.
Yes, there are similarities but that is restricted till the first three lines of the synopsis.
Bejoy and I are two different people, who, at different times, thought of a similar idea. He hasn't seen Paanch. There are minor similarities that of five friends getting into a situation. Apart from that the film is completely different. Shaitan is done in a far more superior way than Paanch. When I look back at Paanch, I think it was a juvenile attempt.
Image: A still from Shaitan. Inset: Anurag Kashyap (inset)
'Band Baaja Baraat brought Yash Raj back'
You are producing a lot of first-time directors' films.
If I feel the person has the potential, I will definitely back them. That's because the industry sizes you up on the basis of your performance at the box office. It is unfortunate that the industry cannot see the talent and potential of filmmakers like Rajkumar Gupta, Vikram Motwane and Bejoy Nambiar.
What made you don the producer's hat?
I became a producer because there are so many filmmakers who cannot find producers to back them. It feels nice to be associated to such talented filmmakers. I am enjoying the process of working with new filmmakers.
I think it's time for the industry to wake up and smell the coffee. Which film brought Yash Raj back? Band Baaja Baarat. Today, Yash Raj has started with Y-films Balaji has another production house called Alt Entertainment, UTV has UTV Spotboy. All these new production houses are catering to youth films.
A lot of new filmmakers are entering the arena. How do you feel about that?
I am very glad with the new filmmakers. I envy them because they are so good. They inspire me and that drives me to constantly reinvent myself. The directors who I have worked with (Vikramaditya Motwane and Bejoy Nambiar) are far superior filmmakers than I am. Working with them has helped me learn a lot of things. It is a healthy competition.
Image: A scene from Shaitan
'I cannot make frothy cinema'
Your films always have the element of darkness in them.
Elements like darkness or wickedness are necessary in the kind of films I make. The audiences in India think that my films are a little hatke but when I showcase these films at a lot of film festivals abroad they think my films are very mild. Cinema is more real in the rest of the world than in India. And I cannot make frothy cinema.
Will we ever see you making a commercial film?
I don't know. The style of shooting is universal. The so-called Indian films are shot in London or Australia or some other foreign location. Where is India in these films? The films that I am making are shot in Indian cities. In my films what you see is the stylized version of the city itself.
We shot Gangs Of Wasseypur in small villages with 200 people and a single vanity van. There were no five star-hotels and we would stay at real locations. In my films, most of the money is spent on locations rather than on costumes and lifestyles.
Will we see you working with A-list actors?
I want to work with good actors. I don't think I'd like to work with big actors. If these big stars are good actors, then I will think of working with them. If they want to work with me they have to be reasonable.
Image: A still from Shaitan
'I'm a very bad actor'
Is commercial success important to you?
Yes, commercial success is important so that I can keep making films. My definition of commercial is different. For me any film which recovers its money and makes a little profit is commercial. So, even an art film can be commercial.
When a film earns money, it helps the producers and distributors to churn out more films. I don't have any intentions of making box office records.
Has life changed after marriage?
Life has changed. There is a sense of contentment. We have been together for so many years so it is almost similar as it was before the wedding.
Have you taken up acting seriously?
The films I acted I happened a long time ago. I only take up acting when I feel I can do the part. I have been an actor and I was fascinated with acting but not anymore.
Are you a better actor or a filmmaker?
I am a very bad actor. I am better at making films than acting but still there are a lot of things to learn.
Image: Kalki Kochelin and Anurag Kashyap
'Films are made through ideas and not stars'
You've been angry with the media for a long time
I had an image in the media because I was angry with everyone. My films were all waiting to see the light of the day for 10 years. I made three films and none of them got released. Friends and associates liked my work and would praise me but that was it. That was frustrating and making me angst-y.
But I have mellowed down now.
The attitude of the industry was very wrong at that time. In the past I encountered so many people who told me that I was crazy to be doing what I was doing but today they come and tell me that I had the right attitude. People don't like anyone who says the truth.
Is there anything that you would like to change as a filmmaker in the industry?
I would like to change a lot of things. We make projects instead of making films. Times have changed films have replaced projects. Films are made through ideas and not stars. In our industry films are made because of stars. People want to make money before doing any work.
Image: Movie poster of Shaitan
'I don't want to be called the best director in the world'
What's happening with That Girl In Yellow Boots?
I have purposely held up the release because there are a lot of international distributors and everyone has a say in the film. Also, we wanted to showcase the film at various film festivals before releasing in India. In the past I have had my share of experiences where my films have done well at the film festivals. The movie is releasing on September 2.
You are releasing That Girl in Yellow Boots against Bodyguard?
I am not competing with Bodyguard because my film is not in the same space. I don't think people who will go to see Bodyguard will come and see my film. I am sure that there are a lot of audiences who will go and see my film. Bodyguard will not affect That Girl in Yellow Boots.
How is your equation with Abhay Deol?
I am in touch with Abhay Deol. I am very happy with the way his career is shaping up. He is a brilliant actor. Currently I don't have any scripts for him but I would definitely want to work with him again.
My journey is to keep making films. I don't want to be called the best director in the world. I just want to keep making films because I enjoy filmmaking. I don't think I need to prove anything to anyone.
Image: A scene from Dev D