I Don't Try to Make Cult Films: Anurag Kashyap

The edgy director Anurag Kashyap on film, social media and more

Abhishek Raghunath
Updated: Jan 17, 2012 01:47:02 AM UTC

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Film-maker Anurag Kashyap and film critic Anupama Chopra are discussing film at a press event organised by the Jameson Empire Awards in Mumbai.

Now movies that Kashyap gets involved in tend to be on the darker side: Dev D, Gulaal, Shaitaan, That Girl in Yellow Boots, etc. Naturally, I think this conversation is going to be dark and brooding. But Kashyap is surprisingly funny and spontaneous, self-deprecating even. It helps that he’s talking to Chopra who’s known him for the last 14 years.

“Bollywood is on the verge of global cinema,” he says. “Right now, when people in the West say, ‘Let’s watch a Bollywood film,’ it’s the equivalent of us saying ‘Let’s watch a Kanti Shah movie.’” Kanti Shah is a name that comes up at least twice more during the chat. Shah is the man who made the cult classic Gunda. “It’s the equivalent of Sholay in the B movie category.”

Why haven’t any of your movies crossed over? asks Chopra. “I love music and song,” Kashyap says. “That’s my biggest hurdle,” he says. “But there are these new voices coming in who are not burdened by this. And the new order of suits are getting their way in studios. Right now they are all in the bottom and middle rungs but when they start to make decisions that will be when we cross over.”

“Something big is going to happen in 2012,” says Kashyap. “I have seen a bunch of movies that are going to hit theatres this year and I think this will be the year we cross over to global cinema.” The Ship of Theseus by Anand Gandhi was the first name that comes to his mind.

The discussion turns to cult movies. Kashyap is often called a cult film-maker. I disagree. Only two of his films are cult: Paanch and No Smoking. In my opinion, cult films are movies that failed to break even at the box office. People often confuse cult with dark films. Dev D can never be a cult film. It made its money at the box office. Kashyap dispels the notion that he wants to be cult. “I don’t go out trying to make a cult film. I only try to make box-office hits.”

Kashyap is also a big digital evangelist. All the people he’s worked with over the last two years are people he’s met over Facebook and Twitter; these are the guys who upload movies and scripts to his Facebook page and manage to describe entire films in 140 characters. He is judging Done in 60 Seconds, a short film competition for Jameson Empire Awards, and will select two films from India that will enter the competition in London. “I want to be surprised,” he says. “And there are a lot of entries that have completely blown me away. I think your best work comes when you don’t take on the job of saving the world on your shoulders. Make irreverent films. Those are the ones that have blown me away.”

The conversation goes on. The press is given a chance to ask questions. My favourite response is when someone asks Kashyap why he doesn’t make a movie with a happy ending. His response, “I just made a movie that had a lot of ‘happy endings’ in it [That Girl in Yellow Boots].” ’Nuff said.

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