It’s been more than four months since Anurag Kashyap’s married his long-time girlfriend Kalki Koechlin, but the filmmaker is yet to take a break for a nice romantic honeymoon. Instead, he was busy braving the dust and heat of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Orissa for his next film, Gangs Of Wasseypur. Kashyap is also awaiting his first worldwide release, That Girl In Yellow Boots.
No Censor For Yellow Boots
So how did That Girl In Yellow Boots come about? “It’s Kalki’s story,” he says. “A couple of years ago there was a new report about a German girl who came to India in search of her father. That inspired me and I decided to write the story of That Girl In Yellow Boots with Kalki (who also stars in the film). After she finished the script work began. I had decided to produce and direct it anyway,” he says with a grin.
One look at my movie and they don’t want to distribute it.
Almost all of Kashyap’s films get stalled at some point during their making, but mention that to him and he just shrugs. After the roadblocks he hit with Black Friday, No Smoking, Dev D and Gulaal Kashyap seems to have adapted himself to the reality that he will have to move on to making other films, while at the same time, trying to secure the release of his older ones.
So did the censor board play spoilsport this time too? “No, they passed it with an ‘A’ certificate, as usual. It was getting all the distributors to agree on a common release date that took so much time.” In the meantime, Kashyap showcased TGIYB at film festivals around the world.
I lend my name as producer just for the sake of it. I don’t invest any money.
Yet, now that the film is finally up for release, the irritation in his voice is palpable. “Audiences have changed, filmmakers have changed, it’s only the distributors who don’t want to change. One look at my movie and they don’t want to distribute it. They still want big stars and big names. What they don’t understand is the fact that small films won’t get great openings but they make up for it over time. Look at Udaan (a film that he produced). Udaan didn’t have a big opening but it managed to make money over time and through home video.”
The Kanjoos Producer
Producing films seems to be Kashyap’s new forte, with his productions like Aamir, Udaan and Shaitan having seen the light of the day. He dismisses his producer tag with a wave of the hand, “I lend my name as producer just for the sake of it. I just tell whether a film should be made or not, I don’t invest any money.” Is he a choosy producer? “I only have two conditions. It should be a small budget project and it should be original.”
Sounds simple enough, but what does he think of himself as a producer? “I’m the most kanjoos (miserly) producer!” he laughs, “I never pay my directors.” Before you can shoot another question, he says matter-of-factly, “I’ve never gotten paid for my films. That’s why producers love to work with me.” So how does he earn his bread-and-butter? “I earn my money from outside,” he says mysteriously. Outside? “I make advertisements, do endorsements, write scripts…” he trails off. He almost sounds like an artist who has taken up a part-time job to fulfil his ambitions, but you know that filmmaking is more than that for this director. He’s promoting TGIYB, directing Gangs Of Wasseypur, working on Bombay Velvet all at the same time.
Aamir’s got 10 years of experience. I’ve been here for just two years.
How does he plan to promote TGIYB, considering that promoting a movie has become almost as important as making it? “I don’t know anything about promotion,” he says and points to the PR person sitting next to him. That’s why I’ve given it (the promotion) to them. I know how to make movies, I’ll do just that. Jisko jo aata hai, wo wohi karey. Only people like Aamir (Khan) can do that (multi-task). Aamir’s got 10 years of experience as a producer behind him. I’ve been here for just two years. Maybe eight years later…”
Epic In The Making?
Then why doesn’t Anurag take any big stars in his film? Is it their choice or his? “I don’t work with big actors because I don’t want others telling me what to do. Actors have an image and they don’t have the balls to change it. Except maybe Aamir (Khan). If they (the actors) tell me what to do, I’ll just throw them off the sets!” he laughs. “But the producers won’t allow me to do that… I just want to make films the way I want them.”
Shooting for Gangs Of Wasseypur is underway, and this is probably Anurag’s largest film so far. It is also literally the longest – 180 minutes long – and it will be made in two parts. “The length of the movie is not a problem because it’s one single story. I knew the film is going to be this long. But when you have a story to tell,” he explains.
But what matters in the end: box-office success, critical acclaim or awards…? Anurag doesn’t even wait for the question to finish. “If people knew which film works or does not work, every film would be a Sholay. I only want to make good films,” he says before he signs off.