Anurag Kashyap has definitely moved on from last year’s Bombay Velvet . He is surprised the world is not willing to let the gorgeously-mounted film go. The 43-year-old patron saint of Indie cinema was in town for a masterclass. The director of cult films and self-confessed film geek gave his take on the universe, yoga, glasses from Paris, single malts, his daughter and the necessary evil of film promotions.
Did Bombay Velvet turn out to be the movie you set out to make?
Yes it did. I liked what I made, but it became about the budget and we had to cut it.
That is why we brought in Thelma (Schoonmaker). Fox Star Studios wanted to bring in an editor from abroad. I said I would like to work with an editor I admire and Thelma is a legend. But the world denounced the film and I denounced it too…
Because otherwise people would have gone on and on about it. I have moved on from Bombay Velvet , the world doesn’t seem to be able to let it go. I have done that with Paanch where I waited for three years when the film was banned, wanting to show the world my vision. That is over now. I know filmmakers who have not been able to move on from a film they made with all their heart, which was not liked by the world. I made Bombay Velvet and now I celebrate it in my heart. I have moved on to my next film, Raman Raghav 2.0 .
Do you believe you are stuck in a rut?
No I do not. I believe my films are still fresh. Within the genre I have been trying to explore new things.
You have done workshops for students. You are here for a masterclass. Do you still like to teach?
I prefer interacting to lecturing. I used to do more of it earlier. It has reduced now as it is no more about my work. The questions are more about my personal life, how is it working with so and so...
Do you rely a lot on image and publicity? Does it consume you more than films these days?
There was a time when we made films and talked about them after they came out. I don’t understand this obsession about wanting to know everything about a film even before it has started shooting! A film becomes a film after it is made. We made better films when there was no media, no buzz. There was an element of surprise, we went in with all the wonder in our eyes.
Film promotion and publicity has happened in the last 10 years. It is like a bazaar out there with everybody shouting ‘look at me! Look at me!’ It is a necessary evil of the times, but I still hate it.
You mentioned in an interview that Kalki introduced you to yoga when you were together. Do you still do yoga?
I do, I last exercised on May 9, it is going to be a month without exercise and I feel fat.
What are the two things, as in objects, closest to you?
My glasses (wears them) that I bought in Paris, my shoes (I am quite the Imelda Marcos of Yari Road) and my collection of single malts.
Do you think about death often?
No I do not. I am nihilistic in my way. I believe people who harbour dark thoughts make the lightest, happiest films.
Are you a violent person?
No, I am not.
Do you lose your cool often?
People who know me say I am the calmest person around. I lose my cool with my equals, with people who can take it. Earlier, I used to get angry with people in power who ill treat their subordinates. That has reduced and now I reserve that anger for powerful people.
You have done the festival circuit forever. Could you give some networking tips?
My tip is do not network. We believe that we cannot make it unless we wine and dine the organisers or we know someone on the circuit. I say if you put that money, time and effort into making a good film, then the festivals will come to you. All you have to do is send them your film. If it is good, it will be accepted, if not, it will be rejected. And once they have seen your work, you are on their radar. All it takes is one good film.
Have you ever been attracted to a man?
Are you open to fluidity of gender and sexuality?
Yes, of course. I have been hit on, I have been kissed on the mouth by a man, I have friends who are gay, who are transgender.
Describe the universe in three words.
Massive, unknown, surprising.
What is the first thing you do when you wake up?
Go downstairs and make a cup of coffee.
Your first wife, Aarti Bajaj, has edited most of your films. What is it like working with her at the edit table?
Oh we fight a lot! All our fights are work related though. Aarti didn’t edit That Girl in Yellow Boots as it was just after our divorce and I thought it would be awkward. She was committed to another project during Gangs of Wasseypur and Thelma edited Bombay Velvet . Otherwise she has edited all my films. We are now in a good place.
What is your relationship with your daughter like?
We are friends. She is 15 and smarter than me.
How important is solitude to you?
It is important now more than ever. My favourite time and space is up in the air. I take these long flights and do my best writing then.