Anurag Kashyap on supporting young directors and the changing scenario in the Hindi film industry
Anurag Kashyap is fast proving the Man Friday for young independent filmmakers looking for a foothold in a formula-ridden industry. The latest is Vikramaditya Motwane, whose ambitious project “Udaan” released last week. The film has already made waves on the festival circuit with the icing on the cake being its selection in the ‘Un Certain Regard' category of this year's Cannes Film Festival. Anurag has not only co-produced and co-written the film but also pitched it to UTV that ultimately bought the idea.
Vikram wrote the script seven years ago but could not find producers for his coming of age story of a young boy who doesn't want to follow the wishes of his authoritarian father.
Anurag says Vikram faced the same problems that he did before breaking into the big league. “In a way, the boy (Rajat Barmecha) in the film is like the new independent filmmakers trying to break free from the clichés and the boy's father (played by Ronit Roy) is like the old guard in the film industry.” Anurag says he liked the script but knew nobody will produce such an honest script. He clarifies that he has not done any favour. “I learnt how to shoot songs from Vikram.” The two met on the sets of “Water” where Vikram was the choreographer and Anurag wrote the dialogues. Anurag says, “When it comes to uncompromising attitude, Vikram is more stubborn than me. Can you believe, when a leading national daily gave five stars for ‘Dev D', Vikram called up to say in foul language ‘keep the five stars in your pocket, but you know if you had listened to me and not compromised (for the market) we would have made an even better film'.”
Anurag feels the success of “Raajneeti” brings new hope to young filmmakers who want to work on subjects other than romance and comedy. “What is happening right now is that a major portion of a film's budget is going into paying the fees of stars. This is despite the audience consistently showing that star presence won't be enough to sail through.”
Isn't it ironical that when things are changing, Anurag is working on his most ambitious project, “Bombay Velvet” and is looking to sign a star? “Indeed it is ironical but I also maintain that every subject demands a budget. Most of the time youngsters dream big but don't get the kind of backing the subject requires resulting in compromises and it shows in the final product. For “Bombay Velvet”, set in the underworld of the 1970s Bombay, I have got the right producer (Danny Boyle) and I will make sure that the money will go only into the realisation of the script.”
This, he adds, is one of the reasons that he is approaching Aamir Khan for the lead role. “The good thing about him is that he doesn't become a burden on the film. He is yet to read the script but I am hopeful. I have given six years to research for the film and trust it will reflect on screen.”
But before “Bombay Velvet”, he is planning to finish “Gangs of Wassipur”, a film on coal mafia. “Having grown up in Benaras, I have heard plenty of stories about the coal mafia in eastern Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.” He is signing Manoj Bajpayee for the lead role. “Manoj fits the bill. He is a great actor and we are ensuring the entire cast belongs to the region because language is a big factor in the story.”
However, he denies that he has cracked the code of film finance. “The big banners have started calling, but only to know what I am up to. When it comes to real tie-ups, I still don't figure in their scheme of things. The only difference is, now I don't have to tell fake stories to certain producersto get the finance. That's why I support young directors. I don't want talented youngsters to face questions such as bring a star or make compromises such as adding an item song to bankroll the project,” says Anurag.