Interview | National

CAA: There is nobody to have a dialogue with, says Anurag Kashyap

Filmmaker Anurag Kashyap. File   | Photo Credit: AP

Filmmaker and writer Anurag Kashyap admits to being perpetually angry and “super frustrated” of late. More so the morning after Home Ministry’s notification of CAA coming into effect.“How do you fight a bully like this?” he asks rhetorically, as we sit down for an interview with one of Bollywood’s loudest dissenters against the government.

So latest is that yesterday Home Ministry issued a notification that CAA will come into effect from January 10, 2020…

I really don’t understand. For me, in any kind of a civil disobedience movement, people talk, they have a dialogue. Problem is there is nobody to have a dialogue [with]. You are shouting at a wall. The way the Prime Minister has been, is exactly replicated by the vice-chancellor in JNU. Not meeting people who have demands, not having a dialogue, totally cutting them away, pushing them off the edge. It’s also because they don’t know what to say and they can’t have a logical argument. They break your patience and you tip over. And when you tip over, they somehow feel they have the right to resort to violence. That has been the pattern in everything they have been doing.


Kal gazette aa gaya CAA ka. Inke rules formulate hue nahin hain. Kaise aa gaya? Dadagiri hai na (Yesterday the CAA was notified in the gazette though rules have not been formulated for it. How did this happen? This is bullying). You need to figure out, set down your rules. Just two days back they said they were doing that and now suddenly it’s out there. So why are you putting it out there? It’s just pushing you further, provoking you further and the bullying attitude of “we will just do it, so you get lost”.

They are literally borrowing from the book of the fascists and Nazis... How to “other” people. Are Delhi Police complicit? Are they pressurised? Things which are so obvious they are not paying attention to, and they are constantly changing the narrative. And the followers are buying it. People are deliberately twisting the truth. It’s like they all know what the truth is, but need to twist it because the hatred for the “other” is so much.

It’s almost like you are sitting in one of the Roman arenas and all the followers are the audience. There’s this bloodlust that all of them have and they are just enjoying it. It’s everybody’s big let out. It’s literally like chalo lado, maro (Let’s fight and kill).

Everyone is coming up with the same rati-ratayi (by-hearted) counter-argument. In your school groups, family groups, Twitter, Facebook; everywhere it is the same.

How do you see the road ahead?

I don’t know. They are beating up people and increasing their own security. What are you afraid of? They are such cowards. They will take the bulldozers over us. Or one will have to fight back till the point where it gets into a state where it’s re-election. It will become either extreme. I don’t think there is going to be any civility left. I am boiling with rage and it is so hard to control your rage. That’s how they are. It will go to that point. We are in for a long haul. Only thing we cannot do is become like them. We have to talk to each other to stay peaceful. People need to come out and start speaking the blunt truth.

I have stopped being respectful. I have lost total respect. So in my tweets, or whatever I say, there is zero respect. The decorum is gone. And it comes from within. I can’t help it. Sometimes one feels that one needs to call out things as it is.


Then there is the fear that the on-going resistance will die down..

They are hoping it will die down. Everybody has a limit, a threshold, work pressures. But the way it’s going on right now, those women at Shaheen Bagh... They are incredible. There are students coming out always, every day. It’s very bad time for the economy. None of those issues are being addressed… Even if they did good governance there wouldn’t be a problem. But where is the governance? You are constantly focusing on divide and rule, polarisation… They are doing literally what they are accusing others of doing: tukde tukde.

I might not buy into your ideology but so long as you are doing your job [it’s ok]. Someone is working for the country. You are not working for the country. You are working on your idea of the country, what you want it to become and you are forcing us to become that…

Again those electoral bonds have come out because Delhi elections are round the corner. Their whole focus is on the Delhi elections now. I see the whole strategy of budget also will be to impact Delhi elections.

How do you see the Delhi elections play out?

They know they are going to lose the elections so they are going to do everything to not lose the elections. Everything can entail anything. I don’t know to which level they will go to. Will they follow the Constitution or not follow the constitution? They think they are the Constitution. They are India. That’s the whole problem. They are like these ruthless, cruel oligarchs. Supreme Court kya bolta hai inko farak nahin padta (What the Supreme Court says doesn’t matter to them). They are openly bullying their way into every institution, be it judiciary, police, CBI, ED, everything.

There is no alternative emerging either…

What it’s heading towards, looking at what Uddhav Thackeray is doing or what Hemant Soren is doing… the whole politics will become regional. No one consolidated central thing. Delhi has become regional with AAP. All States will have their own regional parties and regional heads. If it goes that way with no central binding thing and if every government is a regional government then how do you not foresee a Europe like situation happening?


You have maintained that you have been protesting all through your life. How is this different?

When you raise your voice for your rights, there is always an avenue. There would always be someone who’d sit across and talk to you. Like the Censor Board during [the trouble over Deepa Mehta’s] Water. We travelled to Delhi, went to I&B ministry, there was Arun Jaitley, there was Seshadri Chari from the RSS who sat across. There was an argument, we read the whole script. There was always somebody to address your concerns. It wasn’t about coming out on the streets. In Udta Punjab case, we went to the court and it cleared us.

Right now it looks like there’s no system in place. Suddenly nobody is hearing you and that’s why more and more people are coming out. There is problem between the administration and the student’s union [in JNU]. The V-C is not hearing the student’s union. They get pushed to the point that they pull out the wires. How does it allow a party affiliate to come in and do what they did with the police standing outside? They won’t hear you till you get desperate and you cross one line, and that will give them an excuse to come in.

So does one carry on protesting?

Right now one has to keep on at it. I don’t know what happens in the Delhi elections. If they lose, will it affect them or will they become more stubborn?

But they may win Delhi. They won the general elections…

No, not unless there is manipulation; not unless there is force. I am talking about people who have voted for this government and I know many of them and I know they won’t [win the Delhi election]. They very clearly see that someone has done something for Delhi. Delhi may not have a political leader at the helm of things but it does have an administrator at the helm of it whose transition to a politician is something we have been waiting for, for years.


So you have that axe to grind with Arvind Kejriwal?

He is a good administrator. He will make something better. But I don’t see any kind of a collective emerging other than the students.

The way things are, wouldn’t it be better to have a good administrator in place than a politician?

It is great but to fight this [what’s happening in the country right now] you also need an equal. How do you fight a bully? The only way we have learnt our lives is the Gandhian way of protest and one is doing that. One has to start calling a spade a spade…

Congress is anyhow a spent force…

That’s privileged politics. Hum party kar rahe hain kya? Jab mann aata hai, aate hain, shakal dikha ke chale jaate hain (Are we partying [at the protests]? They come whenever they feel like, show their faces and go away).

So we go back then to your statement about the regional parties…

We are seeing regional voices emerging. In his one week tenure, what Hemant Soren has done. He has taken calls. The kind of statements Uddhav Thackeray is making, protecting the citizens. You are seeing a transition in Shiv Sena. My thing is how did he make that statement of not mixing religion with politics!

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Isn’t there opportunism here somewhere?

The government has gone to such an extreme that I feel now these parties are talking to people at grassroot level. It’s not the time to make money, let’s do some good governance. It has brought the idealist in them. There is so much going on that they are all doing the right thing and also wearing the badge of doing the right thing. Whatever is the reason, even if opportunism.

Not a collective central party, I see regional parties defeating others in the game. Elections are still four-and-a-half years away. There are four-and-a- half years to do things.

How to have the protests remain more focused? Will it yield future leaders?

Some people are trying to give it structure, organise it. It has to stay a students’, citizens’ protest. Not affiliated to a political party. Some faces are emerging from it that will solidify over a period of time. Like Kanhaiya Kumar. People who don’t agree with his Left leaning tie-up are still listening to his argument. He has also become self aware. He is also speaking for the students. The constant narrative that is being created is Left trying to create the unrest. ABVP versus the Left. It’s about students. It has to stay away from the political parties. They need to come out on their own and fight their own battle. It has to stay a civil disobedience.

Coming to the Hindi film industry, you have often told me about how you are have been told to remain quiet. Bollywood has by and large been quiet. How come its speaking now?

Everyone has a conscience. Everybody’s threshold gets breached. People who are not speaking up also feel something. Some of them might be in fear, some of them might think it’s better to remain silent. They have gone through the experience. When the two Khans [Shah Rukh and Aamir] spoke, you saw the retaliation. They became like the privileged Muslim stars talking and their religion became the biggest counter argument rather than all their achievements. It was very poignant the way Deepika [Padukone] went and just stood there. That is a very strong, powerful statement. She didn’t go and say anything. In very clear terms, in two, three words she made known her stand.


Are Bollywood guys who are speaking out organised in any manner? How did the Carter Road protest come about?

It came from the discussions between Zoya [Akhtar], Dia [Mirza] and Anubhav [Sinha]. I work in isolation, totally. I talk to people, I call them up to find out if there is a protest going on somewhere. We keep talking to one another. People do feel very strongly about it [in the industry]. Everybody has their sentiments, everybody has their feelings. But some are weighing them.

But there’s the other faction also in Bollywood…

These are people who are looking out for their businesses. They three, four, five of them who are literally seeking protection. They have a lot of other baggage that they need to handle. They don’t even have the courage or understanding to make an informed, intelligent opinion for it.

You have been one of the most vocal Bollywood people but it’s the women who have taken up the cudgels in a big way within the industry…

Across the world it’s the women calling them out. Right now the best of the politicians, people you look up to, PM of New Zealand, are all women. They have much more empathy and spine to stand up to all the bullying. Look at Shaheen Bagh. Women who have been playing their conventional roles even in societies which are very conservative. Once enough is enough and they decide to step out, men just back off. Women have always been like that.


Any chance of embracing politics yourself?

I know I have my politics and I genuinely believe in the Constitution. I have never questioned it simply because you start off your life as a kid reading it and you believe it as a way of life. I believe in my rights very strongly which is why I have always fought, whether it was Black Friday or Paanch or Water. I am not brave to do what I am doing. In a naive way I believe in the Constitution. Why should I not believe in it? I don’t know any other way to be.

But that doesn’t mean I should get into politics. It’s become this thing, people get into it to balance it, then they start losing themselves slowly. They realise that in order to do something, they have to win the election, to win the election they can’t stand for this and that, things that they feel for. Slowly they lose themselves to that thing for power. I’d be a very stupid politician. Not just fail, I will become a joke within five years. I am very self aware.

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Printable version | Jan 29, 2022 4:58:06 AM |

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