Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Indians don’t like to give credit to people for their work

Posted by Sid
April 11th, 2007

Anurag Kashyap definitely needs no introduction. The man behind Black Friday and a hoard of other films is undoubtedly the most known and credited scriptwriter in the industry today. Despite being a busy director, he still finds out time to write films and is exploring new avenues as a screenwriter by writing the narration for the Hindi version of the Oscar winning documentary film ‘March of the Penguins‘.

IndiaFM had a tête-à-tête with him where he spoke about his experiences on this film and his other projects as well.

While writing the narration for ‘Penguins: A Love Story’, have you just translated the French version in Hindi or added a lot of your own to the narration?
There is a lot more that has been added. The French version has been used as the basis at large. The sound track and everything is from the French version and not the American one. The American version doesn’t use the original sound. The narration was written because it was to be voiced by Mr Amitabh Bachchan. Keeping that in mind it was completely approached like that. It has a lot of details of the penguins. The narration is not very detached like the American version which has Morgan Freeman’s voice. It is more like documentation, it’s more personal. Mr Bachchan’s voice is more intimate and more personal. His voice is not used in the way that it is normally used. It reaches out to you. It’s more off a spoken language, broken down.

The narration by Amitabh Bachchan is not very detached like the American version which has Morgan Freeman’s voice.
Even for Water, you were credited in the titles as ‘Hindi translator of dialogues’. So was your role in this film similar as that of Water?
I wrote the dialogues for Water. It was one of my earliest films and I got credited this way. I guess I was a fool then. In this film my role wasn’t similar. I wrote the narration for this film. In a documentary there is only a narration. So all you can do for a documentary film is write the narration. All the information was already provided and the film was already shot. So it was far more easier to do this. The only difficulty was to find the spoken quality and a voice which is suitable.

The film is released in India with Amitabh Bachchan’s voiceover in Hindi and English languages. Have you written the script for both the Indian versions (Hindi and English)?
I wrote the script for the Hindi version. The English version was an adaptation of the Hindi version. And both the Tamil and Telugu versions were adaptation of the Hindi version.

In fact the English narration by Amitabh Bachchan for the Indian version is preferred by the French producers over the English narration by Morgan Freeman in the American version. Even for the DVD of the film, Amitabh Bachchan’s voiceover has been selected over Morgan Freeman’s for the English language. The French producers endorse this version over the American one.

Amitabh Bachchan makes anything sound incredible. It gives you a feeling that you are a good writer.
Since you might have obviously seen the film, how did you like it?
I loved it. I am not yet objective about the film but very subjective about it. Half the time I was in love with hearing Mr Bachchan speaking my lines.

So you think Mr Bachchan has done justice to your script?
He makes anything sound incredible. It gives you a feeling that you are a good writer.

The best producers for your work are those who respect your copyright and respect your work.
Would you like to write for an Indian documentary, if given a chance?
It depends on the subject. Documentary is not something that I would want to do as in looking out for a subject. If I come across a subject that moves me I will definitely do it.

Since you and Amitabh Bachchan are the only two people involved in the Indian version of this Oscar nominated film, does it feel great?
It has won the Oscars even before we were involved. However, it’s a great feeling to be a part of a film which has won so many accolades. The good part is that the French producers respect the copywriters. Like you took the example of Water, the amount of work I put in, how I wrote all the dialogues and hell of a lot of things were re-written. But I was credited as translator of Hindi dialogues because I didn’t sign a contract. They could not have managed to do that with Fire or Earth because they had senior writers. While doing Water I was only one film old with Satya. The best producers for your work are those who respect your copyright and respect your work. Water was a terrible experience, which reminds me I also did a film called ‘The Goal‘ where I hardly collaborated a day or two and my name is officially credited as a consultant. But you realize when it comes to India, Indians are the cheapest people the world over. They don’t like to give credit to people for their work. And I saw that a lot in Water with Deepa Mehta. A.R. Rehman is also unhappy with Deepa Mehta by the way he is credited in the film. It’s the fellow Indians who treat Indians like shit.

After writing avant-garde scripts, do you think you went the conventional way by writing dialogues for masala films like Shakalaka Boom Boom?
Shakalaka Boom Boom is the pits of my career. I got involved with the film and wrote for the film. But half of the things I wrote aren’t even there. For me the biggest lesson I learnt from it was that never ignore the instinct. My first instincts were not to do the film. I told myself that when I do something like that I will charge a lot of money. The money promised to me never came my way. There were various other people in the film that I counted on and depended on and in the end got the most flak for it and I can’t get away from it because I have done it. All I can do is apologize to the audience and to myself and make sure that next time I do it I get paid Rs 50 lakhs for it.

Shakalaka Boom Boom is the pits of my career. My first instincts were not to do the film. But I ignored my instincts
You are also writing dialogues for the sequel of Hanuman. Is it any different, writing dialogues for an animated film?
No. The film is animated after you have written the script. I am just doing the dialogues. There are other people also involved. There is Amit who has worked with me on the script. There is VG Samant who has created the character. There is Abhilash and Upendra from Percept who are animation film directors. So there are a lot of people involved to make that one animation film happen. In the end I might get the most credit for it but it also involves a lot of other people as well.

Does the film have 2D or 3D film animation?
Both, its 2d and 3d. Its very high quality work

Is it a mythological episode like the prequel or contemporary?
It’s more contemporary. Hanuman in the modern world.

What do you think is the future of animated films in India?
I think the future of animation films is just like any other films in India. Animation is the future. Lots of films are being made on animation. It’s not only about Mandrake or Phantom. Cinema is changing, the world is changing. Everything is changing. At a time of globalization, anything that is good will work in the world.

Finally what is the status of for directorial venture No Smoking?
The shooting is over. We are looking for the release somewhere in August or September. I cannot decide because I first want to ready the film

Anurag Kashyap On The Upcoming Indie Movies

Tanya Palta April 10, 2007

Director Anurag Kashyap’s blog Passion For Cinema always make for an interesting read. Here are some excerpts from a recent article by the talented director and his take on some upcoming "Indie” movies. Go here for the full article.

MANORAMA-SIX FEET UNDER, India’s first truly original noir set in a small town reminds me of TAVERNIER’S “COUP DE TORCHON“ reminds me of jim thomson and the way he looked at how NAVDEEP “NOPI” SINGH looks at his lakhot..from the way its written, sparse, moody, from the protaganist’s POV, a failed pulp novelist,now contributing to manohar kahaniyaan, wanting to be a detective played by always brilliant Abhay Deol..getting himself into a situation he can’t get out of..the entire noir thriller set in a sleepy town..where neighbors are more interested in the other ones life..where everyone wants a break from daily mundanity..where every one has all the time and everybody works for the government..extraordinary performances from Gul Panag, Sarika, Kulbhushan Kharbanda, Vinay Pathak,Raima sen, Nowazuddin And Jogi..the control and the restraint from showing off and sensationalising elements, the attention to detail by this director makes you relook at what you have not been made me feel inadequate..however much i want to discuss this film i can’t because its still in post production and its not my film..but its so bloody brilliant that i am ready to put my ass on line..its one of the best i have seen..

BHEJA FRY-the entire audience in the theatre was rolling with laughter..i could not do this one..infact i didn’t do this one.. i grossly underestimated it..and i am so bloody happy that i was dead wrong..SAGAR BELLARY proves it that i am an ass..and i wonder how does the rajat kapoor gang always does it..making a film for sixty lakhs with so much talent and original songs and non stop fun..sunil doshi and rajat kapoor i guess are the only bonafide independent filmmakers we have in this country of so much that calls itself independent and is far from the film, a comedy of manners.. an extra ordinary vinay pathak, who fancies himself as the true K L Saigal follow up.. a man who imagines his life is devoted to music , looking for that elusive break gets invited for a dinner by a music producer and all hell breaks loose.. based on a french comedy..this is a through the roof rollercoster..and the fun just becomes completely multiplied when Ranvir shorey enters the scene..this film and knowing what he has done in my film, i can say that Ranvir Shorey is the single most versatile actor we have and bloody brilliant and underrated.. all these familywalas who keep nominating there friends and sons and lovers and ignore this brilliant actor..i want to see how long can they ignore him.. like that dialogue from Goodfellas.. the guy will keep coming back and slam you with performances one after the other that you will have to be dead to ignore him .. uday chopra nominated for comedy for dhoomX, in his ten lives and all the money is not a split end of a hair on this man’s talent..this film is seriously ha ha and bloody celebration of low budget cinema.. it makes one feel that its not so bleak out there.. if you want to, you can, and how..

Monday, April 9, 2007

“I was always confused,” says Anurag Kashyap

[Interview by Faridoon Shahryar]
Monday, February 05, 2007

He is a maverick writer whose work you appreciated in films like ‘Satya’, ‘Yuva’ and ‘Nayak’. He was also the consultant on ‘Guru’ and ‘Water’. His stint with direction is going to see the dark confines of cinema hall as ‘Black Friday’ (A film on Mumbai Bomb Blasts of 1993) releases this Friday. His yet unreleased works ‘Paanch’ and ‘Gulal’ may also find a release this year as he is getting on with his next directorial venture ‘No Smoking’ with John Abraham. Meet Anurag Kashyap as he talks in a bluntly honest interview about ‘Black Friday’, why Mr Bachchan is making a fool of himself and why he shares ‘creative differences’ with Mani Rathnam on ‘Guru’.

How do you feel about your first release ‘Black Friday’?

It is my first release. I don’t know what to feel. It’s been so many years of excitement, ups and downs. I am excited but I can’t express it.
You had done a lot of research, the locations, pulse of people….

We shot the film on all the real locations. We had a team of three people who went everywhere and collected all the material. They got in touch of all the real people, the victims of the blasts to police officers. I personally met Rakesh Maria (the police chief who cracked the case, attended the TADA Court, we got video interviews, press releases, newstrack interviews, got the photographs from the press photographers, read all the published materials, NFDC news reel….Lot of work went into it…
Apparently the High Court stay happened because the film was passing a judgement….

The High Court said that before the Tada Court has announced its verdict, the film should not give its verdict on people who are accused. We postponed the release. The moment the verdict came out, the producer appealed in the Supreme Court and we were cleared.
‘Paanch’ couldn’t see the light of the day, then ‘Black Friday’, did you get used to it….

(Laughs) Nobody can get used to it. After ‘Paanch’ I didn’t do anything for two years. Couldn’t understand why it’s happening. But after ‘Black Friday’I started writing other stuff. I didn’t give myself time to think.
Vijay Mourya has a striking similarity with Dawood Ibrahim…

Vijay Mourya wanted to play Dawood Ibrahiim from the beginning. I know him as he is my friend. He was also part of ‘Paanch’. But you tend to take your friends for granted. I said no, this is a serious movie, we are not doing ‘Paanch’ or something. He didn’t speak for me for one month. He kept at home, didn’t meet anybody, he grew a moustache and gave me a screen test. He arranged the whole attire. That’s how he got the role.
What about Pawan Malhotra as Tiger Memon?

He is brilliant in the film, simply superb. Probably he is more Tiger Memon than Tiger Memon himself. That’s how good he is. And he also auditioned for the role. KK didn’t audition because when I was writing the film, I only had him in mind. And KK has a striking similarity with Rakesh Maria.
Black Friday is based on Hussain Zaidi’s book….How did you adapt from the film?

First I read the original manuscript. I’ve read the book twice or thrice. Then the process was what to keep and what not to keep as the book is lot more in detail. We decided to go with the central case….the blast and the investigation…And only go with those people who planted the bombs, were part of the conspiracy and what the conspiracy was.
Have you ever received any phone calls from underworld?

Not yet. I’ve not been threatened. I’ve only been warned by friends, but kuch hua nahin.
Did you always want to be a director or a writer?

(Laughs) I was always confused. When I came here I wanted to do theatre, I wanted to do something with cinema, I didn’t know what. Then I started writing. I wanted to make films but that was just a desire. But I also wanted to run a cinema hall. Now, I want to write and make my own films.
Even though ‘Paanch’ and ‘Black Friday’ didn’t release you kept writing for other directors. ‘Satya’, ‘Yuva’, you were a consultant for ‘Guru’ etc….

I kept writing. I still write stuff that I believe in. Either I write for money or my passion or faith in the work or the film. So, I’ve continued writing and I shall write time and again. All the work that is coming out is what I’ve done over eight years.
How do you plan to strike a balance between commercial and serious artistic cinema?

I think I am very commercial. I don’t want to bore people. Either you are doing something completely for artistic reasons, then there has to be a clarity that you are doing it for artistic reasons and don’t try and sell it in the commercial market.
Can we see you doing escapist cinema?

I don’t know how you define escapist cinema. According to me, ‘No Smoking’ is an out and out commercial, escapist cinema


Friday, March 30, 2007

The jinx is over

The jinx is over
Mar 30, 2007

Anurag Kashyap

It took acclaimed scriptwriter Anurag Kashyap eight years and three films embroiled
in controversy to prove his directorial skills. More on the man who directed ‘Black Friday’
Anurag Kashyap

By R. Sanskriti

Anurag Kashyap – whose controversial film Black Friday released recently after a long wait – idolises writer Franz Kafka. Thankfully, he didn’t have to wait as long as Kafka did (Kafka’s works were published and appreciated only after his death).
Kashyap has been a filmmaker-in-waiting for eight years now. He spent his years thus far writing for top Bollywood filmmakers from Sanjay Gupta to Ram Gopal Varma and Mani Ratnam.
The film Black Friday, about the 1993 Mumbai blasts that killed over 253, is not his only film to have gotten into trouble.
Paanch, his ‘debut’ film, too has seen many a hurdle. First the controversy when the film was banned. Then problems related to production going over budget. This followed by his falling out with producer Tutu Sharma only to patch up soon after.
Eight years later, Paanch is yet to be released and its actress Tejaswini Kolhapure is yet to see her debut act on the big screen.
Sanjay Routray, executive producer of Paanch and a close buddy of Kashyap, says, “Anurag is a strong guy. He has gone though a lot of turmoil mentally as well, fighting all odds. Anyone in his place would have crumbled.”
After Paanch got stuck, Anurag got down to making another film called Gulal. The film about student elections shot in Rajasthan had Antara Mali and Jesse Randhawa as part of the cast. This film got stuck as well when producer Jhamu Sughand’s finances dried up.
Kashyap’s run in with luck however, did not see a drop in those wanting to make films with him. Producer Kumar Mangat, who got Kashyap to direct No Smoking with John Abraham in the lead, had earlier said, “He is very talented and is a great writer. He will show with No Smoking that he is a great director as well.”
Fortunately for Kashyap, he made his mark as a director in Bollywood before the completion of No Smoking and the film industry is only but happy for him.
“I’m really happy for Anurag. I don’t believe in things like a jinxed director, because eventually your efforts bear fruit. From the looks of it, Black Friday is a super film. Anurag, as a writer and director, always had talent.
“As a writer though, he has brought about several changes (in Bollywood). That’s no mean achievement. In the years to come, he will prove himself as a director too,” says veteran filmmaker Sudhir Mishra.
Kashyap’s fame is widespread and directors have always heaped lavish praise on him for his scripts.
“Anurag brought a great deal of flair and language when he wrote Yuva for me. I do not speak Hindi well but Anurag managed to do the right thing by doing the dialogues correctly. I am sure his vision as a director helped him,” says ace-director Mani Ratnam.
Filmmaker Ram Gopal Varma, who is all praise for Kashyap’s scripts for Satya and Kaun, is believed to tell his writers to match up to Kashyap’s standards of writing.
For Kashyap, the recent release of Black Friday was the best Friday he could have had.
Says he, “I was very nervous and had been biting my fingernails all along. But now, I am happy and relieved. The film has finally released and it is a great feeling to know people like my work.”
Silently, even veteran film producer Jhamu Sughand (Fire, Earth, Bombay, Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam) must be a relieved man. His troubles too began after Black Friday got stuck. Further films like Gulal, Johnny Gaddar and Abbas Tyrewala’s film were also stuck because of problems with Black Friday.
Kashyap now awaits the completion of No Smoking and if Jhamu’s problems get solved as well, even Gulal will see colour on the silver screen. Just hope Paanch too gets a clearance, it’s been eight years
too many.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Man of the Month : Anurag Kashyap

Man of the Month > February 2007

Breaking the Jinx

This month, and we cross our fingers that nothing will go wrong, the jinx on Anurag Kashyap will finally be broken and his second film as a director will see the light of day. The writer of such films as Satya, Yuva, Main Aisa Hi Hoon and Shool was particularly unlucky when directing. His first film, Paanch, ran into censor trouble because it looked at young people as people who want sex, drugs, rock and roll…and a spot of murder. When the censors cleared it, the producers did what producers don't do. They simply didn't release it. Then came Black Friday, based on the eponymous non-fiction book by S Hussain Zaidi. That was banned for claiming to tell the truth about the bomb blasts of 1993. His third film Gulal, was held up because of paucity of funds.
With the verdict having come in the Mumbai blast case, the Black Friday is expected to hit the theatres on the 9th of February. Simultaneously, he has also found the funding to complete Gulal. However it is unlikely that Panch will see the light of day anytime soon.
Meanwhile Anurag has finished shooting No Smoking, a black comedy that shades into the fantastic. Look out for great performances from Ayesha Takia and John Abraham. Watch this space. If Kashyap's scars don't get him, he's headed for greatness.

'Actors are self obsessed and narcissist'

'Actors are self obsessed and narcissist'

IndiaFM News Bureau
Posted online: Tuesday, September 13, 2005 at 1301 hours IST
Updated: Tuesday, September 13, 2005 at 1315 hours IST

Mumbai, September 13: There have been directors who have waited for number of years to get a break in Bollywood. There also have been directors who have waited for long for a movie of theirs to come out of a can. But seldom do you find a director who has been critically acclaimed worldwide but still awaits release of two of his movies (Paanch, Black Friday) stuck for different reasons.

Meet writer-director Anurag Kashyap in a holds-no-bar conversation with this writer who met him at an International Film Festival at PVR, Gurgaon.

Anurag, first and foremost a question that you would have been asked practically every day. What's the status on Black Friday

(Speaks with a wide grin) Yes, Black Friday is not coming in near future. The case is still in court. Earlier the hearing was slated for August but now it has been pushed to December. So I suppose any further updates would be only after December.

So currently what is keeping you busy?

I am working on Gulal and I am highly excited about it. In fact that's my focus now while I have Paanch and Black Friday behind me.

Can you elaborate further on Gulal?

Gulal is set in Rajasthan and is a fictional movie set a few years from now, though it is not too futuristic. It is a love story cum political cum thriller all rolled into one and is the journey of an honest man fighting a corrupt system. There is also a terrorist outfit angle in the movie. The movie was shot for a few days 3.5 years back [February 2002] but staled thereafter due to unavoidable circumstances. But I always wanted to make the movie and so there I am. Jhamu Sugandh is producing the movie. [Smiles] That's all I can elaborate at the moment.

So who all form the starcast of the movie?

My film primarily stars newcomers. Raja Chaudhary, Ayesha Mohan and Abhimanyu Singh play the lead protagonists. While Raja is surely going to be a man to watch out for, I can conveniently tag Ayesha Mohan as the 'female KK'. A bundle of talent, she is surely going to go places. In addition, there are also regulars like Kay Kay Menon and Aditya Srivastava.

How about the music aspect of Gulal?

Music of Gulal would be of the kind that you would have never heard before. It forms an important piece of the movie and is composed by Piyush Mishra, who also writes the lyrics. [Piyush is the same man who acted brilliantly in Maqbool and Matrubhoomi and scripted the recently released Yahaan]

Roughly what's the budget of Gulal?

It's Rs. 4 crores.

Coming back to Black Friday. You must be aware that the pirated CDs of the movie have flooded the market months back.

[Smiles again] Yes, I know. In fact on hearing about this news, initially I was very low and depressed. But then I started getting compliments for the work I have done. Also on watching the movie I realized that the movie was cut short by an astonishing 45 minutes. All key portions of the movie are cut from the print. So when the movie would be out in theatres, people would realize what all they have missed.

But how come the pirated prints came out in open at all?

It's obviously the mischief an insider.

What's your stance on piracy though?

You would be surprised but I am all FOR piracy. See all tall claims of filmmakers fighting against piracy go out of the window when the same people blatantly copy Hollywood films and call them their own. We pirate ideas so what's the big deal? After all isn't it "intellectual piracy"? In that case isn't it better to see your own movie been watched by millions, even if that's on pirated CDs?

What really made the release of Black Friday to be stopped after the case reached High Court? There were also reports of some of the bomb blast accused currently in jail not being happy with the content!

On the contrary it was the other way round. The accused appreciated the film and wanted it to be out. Even the judge praised the film and hailed the effort. But still the court wanted the release of the movie to be delayed for some time.

Do you think that when the movie eventually gets released, it may turn out to be India's nomination for Oscars?

Frankly speaking, I don't care. I only know that the movie has been made with a lot of sweat and blood and would strike a chord.

And how does the future of Paanch look like?

I am hopeful about Paanch getting released as well, though there have been multiple times when the movie came close to a release. With Boney Kapoor acquiring the movie and his No Entry being a major success, chances are higher that he may release Paanch soon as well.

In your low times were there any instances when you thought of venturing into so called mainstream cinema?

Never. Because I just can't relate to the kind of films being made currently. The day I feel that I can, I would join the league, but presently that day doesn't seem in sight. The problem is that even today number of film makers come to me with the DVDs of Hollywood movies and want me to remake them in Hindi. Sorry, but that's not my cup of tea.

So what are the kind of movies you watch?

I see very few movies and in recent times have seen My Wife's Murder, Iqbal and Dansh. Out of these, I liked Iqbal the most because of its honest approach and a great narration. Hats off to Nagesh Kukunoor for coming up with such a brilliant film. I feel he is the most honest director around and deserves all the appreciation. He inspires me as he is a truly independent Indian filmmaker. I liked Dansh too but then I had already seen 'Death and The Maiden' [Dansh's inspiration]. 'My Wife's Murder' was a disappointment mainly due to its harsh background music that just killed the movie.

Talking about Nagesh Kukunoor who got a good platform for his 'Iqbal'. Haven't you ever regretted not getting an opportunity to work with an established production house like Subhash Ghai's'?

It's easier for Nagesh to work with someone like Subhash Ghai due to number of "releases" behind him, but that's not the case with me as I am still without a release [smiles].

But then you have worked with Ram Gopal Verma with writing Satya, Shool and Kaun for him. Haven't you ever thought of directing for his FACTORY?

The thing is that in this case I don't want to work with him. He is a person who involves himself in all aspects of film making while I like to be completely responsible for my work. This leads to inevitable clash of interests.

At one point of time you were even poised to work with Anil Kapoor in Allwyn Kaalicharan. What happened to that?

Anil Kapoor is the most insecure guy I have ever met. One fine day he told me it's a brilliant script and was all excited about the movie. He even did a photo shoot. But just when the movie's shooting was to start, he backed out. I believe actors are the most self obsessed and narcissist as anyone can get.

Tell us something about your background.

I come from a small town called Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh. From the very childhood I wanted to be a good human being after I read moral science in my earlier schooling days. I did my graduation from Hansraj College, New Delhi. Even in those days, I didn't have enough pocket money to spend lavishly. That's the reason I could never even go out for a date [laughs]!

A section of media is constantly against you. Any comments?

Everyone has rights to talk about others' movie. Even I criticize movies made by others and hence expect others to do the same for me. Say anything about my movie, I won't mind that [smiles again]!

But even you have been famous for some of the articles written by you?

And what's wrong in that? In fact there has been a piece of mine that never got published. After all what freedom do I have when I cannot speak my mind? Can't I voice my opinion? Can't I say that I am discontent? After all I am not threatening to endanger a subject!


Saturday, March 24, 2007

'I’m impressionable as a writer'

'I’m impressionable as a writer'
By: Shraddha Sukumaran
February 9, 2007

Anurag Kashyap in conversation with Mahesh Bhat
Black Friday’s writer-director Anurag Kashyap says he will come wherever and whenever so that Mahesh Bhatt can interview him ahead of the film’s release (today).

A sunny Tuesday evening rendezvous is finally fixed at 5 pm at Bhatt’s editing studio in Juhu. The two greet each other brusquely – nods, handshakes, brief smiles – so it’s a little surreal when their dialogue begins to bare their history and allows us a rare peek into what goes on in their minds.

Bhatt: On March 12, 1993, I had taken my wife, then heavily pregnant with my daughter, to the doctor. He had just come back after seeing pieces of human flesh as a result of the 1993 bomb blast. That’s what first came to my mind when I saw Black Friday in Bradford. This was a UK post 7/7, a UK which had tasted what we had in 1993.

And suddenly, there was great empathy for this film. Normally, the premiere night of Bite The Mango festival is not well-attended, but here a huge gathering of people chose to stay back and watch the film.

The response was phenomenal. In fact, I’d expressed a desire to interview Anurag even then because I thought it significant to communicate to India the impact Black Friday had in UK.

The pre-dominant Asian community consisted of Muslims who felt more victimised then. The hall got still as the movie unspooled. They watched the film with respect; normally they are very impatient with Asian films. There was a sense of acknowledgement.

For you Anurag, it’s been one hell of a journey from the young boy who stood below my office to get Rs 10,000 because he was in a financial crisis, to a guy who’s being interviewed by me. That too without a single film of his being released! A lot of life has happened to you. Finally, one of your films is going to see the light of day. So...

Bhatt: Why did you decide to make Black Friday? Do you recall the exact moment when the film rook root in you?
Anurag: It was after I finished the first chapter of the book Black Friday by S Hussain Zaidi – it described the day of the blast and the build-up to it. It goes into the back story of how a man tells his wife, ‘Main aa raha hoon’ and passes one site of the blast unhurt.

Then on the second site he goes to Lucky Petrol Pump to get petrol and dies there. That suddenness with which life can be taken away started to give me perspective.

All I knew about the 1993 bomb blasts was what the papers were going on about – Sanjay Dutt — which I felt had five degrees of separation from the blast after reading the book. But the papers decided to print only that because he started selling.

The book gave me a perspective of what actually happened, who officer Rakesh Maria was, what caused the blast and who Badshah Khan was — to me the most important character in the film. Khan was a normal man who became a fanatic, and the book traces his journey even when he turns approver.

B: What was the impulse that said, ‘I want to give a sizeable portion of my life to this film.’
A: When I start reading, I started seeing visuals. I wanted to put that on screen. Also, the book was not out then. I was reading the manuscript.

B: Did any pre-censorship take place and affect Black Friday?
A: Pre-censorship always escapes me. Looking back, maybe I was innocent to just put down what I felt. It was my naiveté that made me get into this. The subject always takes over me. I’ve always written like that. I don’t decide where I’m going – I just follow. Everything was organic, so there was no pre-censorship.

After putting the film together, the first cut was 3 hours 20 minutes long. It was difficult to choose which story to take out. But when it went to the Censor Board, there were just four audio cuts on abuses that didn’t affect the film. Other than that, they let the film be.

B: Do you think the Censor Board has come of age?
A: It is much more mature.

B: So we’re living in freer times?
A: From what I faced with Paanch to Black Friday, there’s been a drastic difference.

B: What separates a true filmmaker from a mere technician is his personal vision?
A: What I strived to get during Black Friday’s making was the need for more tolerance among us. There were many choices in the process of writing and making the film. We could have gone with Rakesh Maria’s story, Badshah Khan’s story or the third point of view (which we chose), which was an objective, detached view. I realised that I’m too impressionable as a writer. So to detach myself and have a bird’s view, to state things as they happened, I decided to go with an objective view.

B: Is there a core philosophy?
A: The whole thing that binds Black Friday is that it began with the blasts and went back to the history of the Babri Masjid demolition. There must be a history beyond that. If I need to kill someone, I’ll find a reason to. But we need to have more tolerance. ‘An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind’ is the film’s statement and the song ‘Arre ruk ja re bandhe’ endorses that. The producers and I didn’t want to vocalise our statement in the film.

B: Would you say that at your age you have rediscovered Gandhi?
A: Yes. That is the statement. I also got a political perspective into my own life during the process of making Black Friday.

B: What was that?
A: I was not an objective person before Black Friday, and that shows in the first draft I wrote of my other film Gulal. I wrote that film before I set out to make Black Friday. I eventually rewrote Gulal’s final draft after Black Friday.

B: So the making of Black Friday changed you?
A: Yes. I still get angry, but I get less angry. Today, I’ve found various channels to vent my anger by writing films or articles for newspapers and magazines. Earlier, I would get physical; go out on the streets and fight.

B: The aftershocks of March 12 are still reverberating. Do you think India will ever be free of the ghosts?
A: I wish it does, but if you ask me I don’t think so. If we want to change society, the responsibility lies with a lot of people. Lots of journalists ask me is, ‘Don’t you think you’re digging up old wounds?’ The whole country wants to live in a comfortable cushioned life. We have to get uncomfortable and ask the right questions. America learned from a blast post 9/11. But India makes itself a vulnerable, soft target because we are not tolerant. Someone will come and incite us and we’ll be incited.

B: Did you meet Rakesh Maria before making the film?
A: Yes, he spoke to me at length. His investigations were covered, but nobody covered how his mind had functioned during those days.

What were those key moments? There’s a scene that’s not there in the book: when the first accused Asgar Mukadam was brought in, two men came with him. One was his father, the other his uncle. Maria told me, ‘The way his uncle was reacting, I knew something was wrong.’

The uncle was actually Asgar’s father’s biological child. Asgar himself had been adopted. So Maria asked the father to leave and kept the uncle in there. Just one threat to the uncle made the guy open up on his own.

That’s what an investigating mind is like, and I respect that a hell of a lot. There’s a lot that Rakesh Maria did that we as outside parties may not understand, like third degree measures, but to me he was a man doing his duty.

He was forced to deliver results, but at the same time he was also a human being. I wanted to highlight three aspects of his investigations: that he was ruthlessly doing his duty but was troubled by things happening around him and would find his own cocoon to let it out.

B: He’s one of the most secular people I have met in my life. I think you’ve brought that dimension terrifically in the film.
A: Yes. He really lived with those policemen in the jail. There’s a definite hierarchy in the force, but there’s a scene where they’re all in that bathroom and the hierarchy has vanished – their uniforms are off and they’re in their banians.

But Rakesh Maria’s personal loss is not there in the film – his mother was suffering from cancer at that time. There were two calls to his child’s school that there was a bomb there and it had to be evacuated.

B: If you had to see Black Friday with the accused, their families and the police, would you feel comfortable?
A: Absolutely. People who see the film in the right frame of mind will see the point I’m trying to make. I’m not afraid.

B: Among your contemporaries, who would you like to show the film to?
A: There are some underrated contemporaries like Mohit (Suri) and Anurag Basu. I go back with Basu a long way. Then Kabir Kaushik (Sehar), Tigmanshu Dhulia, Vishal Bhardwaj, Sriram Raghavan, Sudhir Mishra – these people’s opinions matter to me.

B: How do you think the aristocracy of Bollywood will react to the film?
A: I don’t care. I really don’t. Bhattsaab, vada pav zyaada bikta hain lekin uska matlab yeh nahin ki woh exotic ho jaata hai. People I respect will recieve my respect all the time. Somebody who has more media space or box office clout does not have my respect. I respect people for what they stand for.

B: Who are your heroes? Do you feel the need for them?
A: I do. My heroes are people like Che Guevara, Dylan Thomas, (Franz) Kafka,. Kafka is a big hero because he died without seeing a single work published, and today we celebrate him. My heroes are those who have sought change and fought for it – sometimes they succeeded, sometimes they didn’t.

B: Are you still asking yourself ‘who am I?’ and ‘why am I here?’
A: (Chuckles) I ask myself that all the time.

B: Have you found the answer?
A: No!

The background

Bhatt: A few years ago (‘In 1992,’ says Anurag. ‘We started together. Bhattsaab brought me here.’), this boy was in an economic doldrum. He came to my office and I gave him the money.

Today, I’m interviewing him. His films haven’t released, and yet Anurag is somebody people like. He has audacity, he has irreverence and the capacity to draw ideas. He will be a filmmaker today (Friday) when the movie flickers onto the screen. And yet he creates a furore.

He reminds me of myself. People tell me, ‘Anurag is what you were,’ but I say, ‘No, he’s 1,000 times more talented!’

He has a control of the craft; he’s cinematically brilliant and has a fire in his belly. But what he hasn’t perhaps found is his vision in life. He doesn’t have to arrive at it now, but when he does, he’ll be an exceptional filmmaker.

Black Friday is an unflinching film — it looks at history fearlessly. A creative director makes a decision and is ready to face the consequences. It gave me great joy to see him walk tall. As you grow older, you begin to have faith in younger people. That’s what life is. People like him and me are blessed with thirst. To quench us, is to kill us.

(Anurag nods, laughing).