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‘Indian government treats cinema like prostitution’

Anurag Kashya­p says he wants to releas­e ‘Moor’ in India, adapt works of Mohamm­ed Hanif and Mohsin Hamid

The failure of Bombay Velvet let Kashyap free and now he can write with a lot more freedom. PHOTO: PUBLICITY

The failure of Bombay Velvet let Kashyap free and now he can write with a lot more freedom. PHOTO: PUBLICITY


Although film-maker Anurag Kashyap may have greatly influenced the world view of Indian cinema, at home he remains to be one of the most misunderstood proponents of a medium wherein mediocrity sells over anything and everything.

It’s hard to catch his train of thought exactly the way his films run on a non-linear track. Kashyap arrived at the 20th Busan International Film Festival in South Korea as one of the jury members for New Currents competition. In an exclusive interview, he excitedly spoke about everything ‘film’.

He started off with the evolution of the medium itself. Nowadays, as people watch films on their laptops, iPads, and phones, “cinema is replacing literature in a strong way,” he said. Kashyap believes film-watching is still a family activity in India, which prevents a personal and individual interaction between cinema and the viewer. But according to Kashyap, film is, in a way, creating this very individual interaction between the film and the global audiences.

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He felt Indian film-makers have not been allowed to push the envelope. He partly pins this on the way cinema is perceived in the country. “Indian government treats cinema like prostitution and gambling,” says Anurag, lamenting how the lucrative film industry has been belittled in the country. He adds that the Indian government has undermined the value of cinema, which has the potential to become a much larger revenue-generating industry.

Revenue generation goes hand-in-hand with piracy about which Kashyap said, “The problem is people want to watch the film when it comes out. If they can’t, within a few days after its release, they find other ways to watch it. So that’s encouraging piracy.” The reason for piracy is not really the economy, it has to do with access, he added.

Kashyap talked about the need for filmmakers to find their own voice, a personal element. He learnt from mistakes of other filmmakers that as a producer, one shouldn’t try to make their films through other filmmakers. “You need to let filmmakers find their own voice. You have to find something personal in every film. For me, I would say, it was Ugly, because it came from a personal guilt.”

Read: Ridley Scott teams up with Anurag Kashyap

Talking about his recent release Bombay Velvet, Kashyap said, “Only the older people who lived through the era recognised that we recreated the same Bombay.” It seems not many saw it the way Kashyap does and the film failed at the box office. “The failure of Bombay Velvet set me free. So now I am not under pressure and I can write freely.”

Regarding his upcoming projects, Kashyap said he has been working on five scripts and plans to complete all of them in the next two years. His next directorial project is Raman Raghav 2.0, a thriller based on the life of Raman Raghav, an Indian serial killer from the 1960s, starring Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Vicky Kaushal.

When asked about collaborations between Pakistani and Indian film-makers, Kashyap says it is going to happen, and that he is trying to get Jami’s Moor [which was also screened at Busan] released in India. “We are trying what we can do to get it [Moor] to India … it is going to happen.”

Read: Walking the walk

He added that he wanted to adapt Muhammed Hanif’s book Our Lady of Alice Bhatti for a film. “I was even trying to produce Moth Smoke for some time.” Kashyap said he was personally in touch with numerous Pakistani filmmakers. Finishing the bottle of juice he had in his hand and picking up another, he grinned and said, “You will see.”

Published in The Express Tribune, October 18th, 2015.

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