Controversy’s favourite child, Anurag Kashyap often finds himself at the center of word fights raging in Bollywood.
Controversy’s favourite child, Anurag Kashyap often finds himself at the center of word fights raging in Bollywood. But that doesn’t stop him from voicing his opinion, without bothering to soften strong words with tact, or caring about the consequences. But the man who is famous for writing gritty gangster sagas is wary of being emotionally vulnerable, and loves the challenge of thwarting convention. On a visit to the capital, director-producer-actor Anurag Kashyap recalls his journey as a filmmaker which began as a waiter. He also reflects on the economics of filmmaking, low-budget films and the lessons learnt from failures.
Indians love freebies In 1993, when he moved to Mumbai to take up filmmaking as a career, Anurag headed straight for Prithvi Theatres. “As a person from a theatre background, the only place I knew was Prithvi and landed there with a bag full of books and clothes. The first thing I noticed was everything was very controlled in Prithvi Theatre. There was a rule that people who are not performing or part of a project were not allowed inside. So, aspiring artists used to wait outside the theatre as in those days we did not have studios. As few film families ran the industry, they were apprehensive of outsiders. That was the first battle I had to fight,” shares Anurag.
He started working as a waiter without pay at Prithvi and gradually started writing dialogues for television for free. “As Indians we love anything we get free and that is how I started. 1993 saw India witnessing a rise in digital television and people were making daily soaps. But they did not know how to generate content on such a large scale. I started offering my services without any expectation of payment or credit. People started approaching me because I could write fast and deliver quickly with no expectation of remunerations. Slowly, the industry started recognising my work and gave credit and money. I was part of shows like Shaanti, Swabhimaan and other serials but Trikaal was the first daily-soap in which I was mentioned in the credits.”
The best choices Choosing Satya, a low budget movie over other lucrative projects offered him was a conscious decision, explains Anurag. He shares, “When Ram Gopal Verma came up with the idea of making a movie like Satya, I was doing very well writing television scripts. I had just signed a deal with Mahesh Bhatt for a TV show called Kabhi Kabhi, which was paying me ` 2.5 lakh per month back then, compared to Ramu who had a total budget of ` 1 lakh for me. That was a hard choice. I had just started making money and here was a film that had no certainty. I gave three years of my life to that film. Those are the choices one needs to make in life. You want to do something, pursue it with conviction.”
Be the change “The kind of cinema I used to see in 1993 was the kind of films I wanted to make. If I were stuck with just the money-making business, I would have been someone who was part of the same system. I took the challenge to disrupt the system, just like Ram Gopal Verma, an outsider whose pure focus was on creating cinema,” says Anurag.
Taking charge and ownership is one of the key aspects for growth, shares Anurag, adding, “Nobody really knows how to make a film or judge a script. The only person who knows is you and nobody owes it to you. You want to make a film; it’s your dream. So, you have to pursue it.”
Face the consequences Every choice comes with a consequence, so be ready to face it, says the Black Friday director. “You cannot stand outside every cinema hall explaining to people the intention behind your movie. I made a film like Bombay Velvet and faced the consequences. These consequences are related to the choices I make. I put out a tweet; I am ready to face the consequences. But sometime you need to stand up and voice your opinions.”
Accepting failure No filmmaker is alien to failures, these are times when one needs to sit back and analyse the mistakes to move forward, explains Anurag. “The greatest of filmmakers have seen failures that have almost finished their careers because you become over-ambitious. Last year, we become over-ambitious and made Bombay Velvet and Shandaar. Now, we are back to square one, where we are just sitting and writing scripts and focusing on content. We made Udta Punjab and Raman Raghav 2.0 in such low budgets. Life is a circle - you do well, start getting ambitious, make mistakes, fall and start over again. The world doesn't owe it to you; you owe it to yourself.”
Key to success Sometimes it’s important to disconnect yourself from others and focus on work says the Gangs of Wasseypur director. “It was important for me to disconnect myself from my father to prove to him that my choice to be a filmmaker is the right decision. I disconnected with him for three years, but in that time he did not stop loving me,” he shares.