An Interactive Session with Anurag Kashyap

A couple of years ago, in my freshie year, Silver Screen (SS) had invited the then anonymous Raj Nidimoru and Krishna DK (now famous as the director duo behind the critically acclaimed Shor in the City) and that too, for their club-defining event, the Film Festival. So, not surprisingly, the news of Anurag Kashyap and Kalki Koechlin arriving in the insti for an interactive session was received with awe, surprise and above all, great excitement. While Kashyap’s creative genius cannot be debated, the arrival of a mainstream ‘heroine’ in the eternally ‘bandi’ drought-stricken land, was a reason enough to generate euphoria. Add to it SS’s poster showing ONLY Kalki’s (stunningly photographed) picture and expectations soared.  Expectations were expected to plummet when there was no sign of THE woman among those who had managed to pack LT early Sunday morning (Malaria woes, as Anurag Kashyap later explained). But as it turned out, Kalki wasn’t missed at all in the next two hours of an almost exhaustive movie talk!

The session began with the screening of 3 of our shorts – 2 stop motion animations, ‘Kindergarten Dreams’ and ’99 seconds’, both of which were called “brilliant” by Anurag Kashyap and ‘The Redemption’, which, though criticised for lingering on too much towards the end, was appreciated for its brilliant conceptualisation, writing and direction. Kashyap, crediting his success to the torrentz-downloading junta, thanked everyone. The Q & A session started with a rather apt question: “How did you start?” The answer was an elaborate one. From his first play written for NM College to his Prithvi days to his first television series and then ditching a lucrative TV series for a modest offer by RGV for Satya – the decision he says “changed his life”, Kashyap summed up his struggle days beautifully. Mentioning that struggle is always within, and not against materialistic deprivations, he stressed on the importance of “being friends” with everybody, calling those days “one of the most adventurous” ones of his life. What really mattered to him then was work, even if that meant foregoing credit and salary. On a question about Franz Kafka’s ‘The Trial’, he disclosed that he was extremely impressionable in his 20s and actually spent one full year reading Kafka’s works, which have had a tremendous impact on him. On being asked about his relatively dark style and whether No Smoking was ahead of its time, he commented that Indian cinema is much behind its times and that directors abroad rebuke him for “holding back”. While he said his favourite films keep on changing, of his own works, Gulaal and No Smoking are the closest to him and DevD the least. He spoke in detail about the extremely talented filmmakers, who do not get any producers and flock to his office, and informed that he will be assisting the release of 18 films till Dec’12, drawing a huge round of applause from the audience. On a question about foreign directors, he said he likes Fincher, considering ‘Fight Club’ as his best work, not so much the much acclaimed ‘The Social Network’, and Aronofsky’s ‘Requiem for a dream’, though he loves ‘Black Swan’ too. There was a passing comment on Tarantino’s eccentric ways! Taking the example of Nolan, who made such brave films as ‘Memento’ and ‘Following’ and had to “kill” ‘Inception’ within the first 15 minutes by explaining it, and had to cast big stars even in bit roles, he emphasised the influence economics has in the film industry, world over.

The Q & A session was followed by the screening of one of his unreleased short films called ‘Pramod Bhai…23’, a remand room docudrama. Marked by intelligent use of old songs and realistic performances, the film was a light portrait of juvenile crime, heart – breaking and heart – warming in equal measures. Then was showcased a collection of 4 scenes from his upcoming film ‘That girl in yellow boots’. Hard-hitting, evocative and dark, the film has Anurag Kashyap written all over it. Something to really look forward to for Kashyap fans, like me. Even the posters of the film displayed outside LT were quite intriguing, and the yellow boots kept by their side only added to the overall effect.

The event ended with a special promise made by Kashyap, that he is willing to send some unreleased films for our college, only if two of his conditions were met – they be returned, and they not be shared on the internet. Thus concluded a successfully organised event, which definitely raised the bar, at least the way interactive sessions are perceived in IIT Bombay!

-Alankar Jain