We catch up with Anurag Kashyap and discuss from Nihalani to Nawazuddin.
Anurag Kashyap shot by Rohit Gupta
There is a framed note in Anurag Kashyap’s office (next to one from Martin Scorcese) which rips Kashyap apart, calling him a phony and wondering if “even a pan is unique” to him. As it does not have a name on it, I ask him who it is by. “A bunch of kids who really disagreed with me on everything,” He says, “And I thought they would do something for themselves but they gave up too easily. I like people who have it in them to fight. So I framed it and kept it.” It is very difficult not to warm up to the man. He is naturally charming, with a big goofy smile that breaks out often between thin cigarettes he rolls himself. Thankfully, he doesn’t wear shades indoors anymore and you can see grueling sleepless nights in his eyes. After the exhausting war that he, Abhishek Chaubey and his team had to go through for Udta Punjab, kashyap had to immediately start preparing for the release of Raman Raghav 2.0. Has it been a long day, I ask him. He grunts and smiles weakly.
So what is your state of mind presently?
I really don’t give a fuck about anything right now. I just want all of this to end so that I can go for my holiday. I am going to Europe and the US to attend film festivals – I am going to the Munich Film Festival, then chill in Berlin, then I am a part of the jury at a film festival in Switzerland and then I am going to New York with my daughter.
What did you take away from the Udta Punjab [which he produced] circus? The problem still persists. Haraamkhor has been denied a certificate.
See, the problems are different. The man in the position of power was abusing it. He would ask for cuts in a film without any explanation and expect you to accept it. Even when we had the option of going to the tribunal, he would not give us the letter to go to it. He just refused the letter and neither offered an explanation. That is why we went to court. Right after the first hearing, he gave us the letter but because the Tribunal judge wasn’t there we had to take it to the High Court and it cleared the film. That judgement has now put him in a corner because the court said that you can’t ask for cuts, if you don’t like a film, refuse certificate and let it go to the next level. Which is what he has suddenly done with a lot of films like Haraamkhor. You just need the will to fight, which is what a lot of other films and film-makers lack.
Is there any way the film certifying board can become autonomous like the UK and the US?
I think it should be autonomous because television is self-regulatory like everything else. I don’t know why they want to control cinema, and more recently, why they want to control everything. The big problem is that none of the recent governments have changed the Cinematograph Act. The film industry is not a priority for the government. We are also the most taxed industry because everybody thinks all we do is party and have fun.
Are you back to a comfort zone with Raman Raghav 2.0 after the ambitious Bombay Velvet?
I don’t have a comfort zone as such. It is what people expect of me. It is the fans who condition you. Every time Shah Rukh has tried something different, people did not accept him and sent him back to his usual fare. But the thing is, I am not seeking their permission. How I work now is, I sit down with my producer and I say, this is what I want to do, you tell me how much money will you give me to do this in absolute freedom.
Why did you do Raman Raghav 2.0?
I have been wanting to do this film for the longest time. I have been so curious about the character since I heard of him. How does a man like this think, exist and what would be his world view?
You have been working with Nawaz for a while now and most people can’t figure out how he functions as an actor…
I can. I know what kind of an actor he is. People leave it to him to do something but I don’t do that. I know him inside out. We sit and talk and discuss about stuff he has not done and plan to do that. And I pull it out of him. I use his own life experiences to draw it out of him. I want to use Nawaz in a way he has never been used before.
Do you think that the Indian audience is not your audience anymore?
I think the Indian audience is increasingly becoming my audience. Especially the younger generation, who are watching films from the world over and TV shows from abroad. That audience is becoming my audience. I am toying with going abroad, yes, but my storytelling is still going to remain the same. I am very desi. I still write in Hindi on pen and paper. Yes, there is a massive audience I have in France and Spain which I don’t want to let go off either.
Of your contemporaries, whose works do you look forward to?
Lots of them of course. I look forward to anything Scorcese does. Though I hated their last film, Hail Caesar!, I look forward to what the Coen Brothers do. There’s Fincher, the guy who made Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy…lots of them.
Anyone in India?
Vishal Bhardwaj, Vetrimaaran, I want to see what Rajeev Ravi does next because I loved all of his films till now, Dibakar Banerjee and I want to see what Kanu Behl does next.
What’s next for you?
There is this psychological horror film, called Giddy, I want to start working on. Year end, I want to do this Bhojpuri film in UP which is absolutely no crime at all.