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).

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

I just can't be politically correct: Anurag Kashyap

I just can't be politically correct: Anurag Kashyap

Hiren Kotwani

Mumbai, February 8, 2007

First heard of as the co-writer of Satya, he went on to write more, gravitated towards film direction only to land himself in a hot soup of sort: Paanch still has to reach the ‘plexes. Allwyn Kalicharan was junked. Gulal produced by Jhamu Sugandh was stymied mid-production.

Okay, most movie trackers know that, and they also know that his Black Friday – banned – is at long last up for release tomorrow.

Over to Anurag Kashyap..

Any pre-release jitters?
I’m just waiting for it to release finally I’m . hoping nothing goes wrong at the last minute again. I’m keeping my fingers crossed, praying that I will now have something to show, that I have it in me to make a film. Friends and others from the industry who , have seen Black Friday and Paanch, have appreciated them. But at the end of the day, a director makes film for the audience.. and certainly not my drawing room.

When you’re stonewalled, what happens? Do you get emotionally detached from your films?
I’m very emotional and possessive about all my films.

Do you feel strongly about your subjects the way you did when you started on them?
In the case of Black Friday, I started out to make a documentary which would be true to the book is based on. The idea was to reach the truth behind the bomb blasts.The accused felt it would influence the judgment against them, they appealed for a stay on the film’s release. I’m sure many must have seen the film already on pirated VCDs, they know it is not judgmental at all.

Do you feel vindicated today?
Yes. It’s not essential that the audience should react strongly to the film..even if the leave the show in silence, I’ll be happy that the film has made an impact, that it has connected to them.

There are references to Mr L K Advani and Mr Balasaheb Thackeray. Do you anticipate any trouble?
There are references to several people. I don’t think there should be any problem. Their names come up only when a character talks about them.

You’ve been around for over 10 years now. Has it been difficult?
I’ve faced very difficult times. The going still isn’t easy for me. I had to wait eight years before the script of No Smoking could be made into a film. I’m glad to have producers like Vishal Bharadwaj and Kumar Mangat backing this kind of a subject.

Shouldn’t you be making more commercial cinema?
What makes you think Black Friday isn’t commercial? Paanch and No Smoking also have all the commercial ingredients.

You’ve often been much too frank and brusque. Why?
If I’m asked for an opinion, I give an honest one. I can’t be politically correct. It has taken a lot out of me to be cynical, to speak my mind against the system.

How come a pucca commercial film producer like Kumar Mangat is backing No Smoking?
Kumar Mangat enjoyed making Omkara, which may not appear to be a commercial subject initially But he enjoyed making it . and he’s enjoying making No Smoking too.

Why haven’t you given up smoking?
By making a film called No Smoking, I’m doing a service to society. (Laughs) So I should be allowed to continue smoking.

The final shape of Mani Ratnam’s Guru wasn’t what you wrote originally. Did you feel let down?
There was no cause to feel let down. Mani gave me the option of making changes in the story but I was going to Los Angeles. I had issues with the changes actually.. because the story I’d written was about man’s rise to fame and glory It didn’t have . much scope for a love story, something which Mani incorporated to a large extent.

You mean the original Guru story was entirely about the rise of Dhirbhai Ambani?
I’m not in a position to comment on that. But yes, the story I’d written was more about the man and his journey from being a villager to an achiever. I don’t have any issues with Mani, he’s a brilliant filmmaker, he’s entitled to make his film according to his vision.

Will Paanch ever see the light of day?
Things are being worked out. I’ll have at least three releases this year.. Black Friday, Paanch and No Smoking.

And what’s the take on Gulal?
It’s being revived, Shomu Ganguly from Kolkata is backing it now.

Have you changed through the years in showbiz?
I’ve become a lot more tolerant, I think before I talk. I can take a lot now. I don’t get as angry as I used to. Whenever I do, I channelise may anger into my work.

What else is happening on the work front?
I’ve written Shunya and The Pool. I’ve done the dialogues for Honeymoon Travels Pvt Ltd, Chaar Rasta and Shakalaka Boom Boom. Hopefully I should get more films to direct now.

Lastly, there’s the buzz that you’ve changed so much that you’re splitting from your wife Aarti?
(Coolly) Nothing like that. There’s no problem in my marriage at all. Aarti and I are fine together.. thank you.

'Black Friday is a bigger film than me'

Friday March 12, 12:08 PM

'Black Friday is a bigger film than me'
By Udita Jhunjhunwala

Anurag Kashyap is an ‘outsider’. When the serial blasts happened in Mumbai on March 12, 1993, he was in Delhi. Yet, Kashyap feels at one with the victims of the blasts — enough to write the screenplay and direct the film.

The result: Black Friday. The film takes the viewer through the events that lead up to that fateful Friday, 11 years ago.

Based on the book by S Hussain Zaidi, presented by Jhamu Sughand, Black Friday is co-funded by Mid Day Multimedia Ltd. Mid Day speaks to Anurag Kashyap. Excerpts.

How did you get involved in Black Friday?
Aditya Bhattacharya called me one day and introduced me to the people from Mid Day. They told me that they wanted to do a film based on the book Black Friday by Hussain Zaidi. When I started reading it, I felt emotionally involved. I truly wondered what drove people to commit such heinous acts. I also stopped being judgmental. After I read the book not only did I want to write the screenplay, I wanted to direct it too.

Apart from the book, what other research did you do?
We had a research team that looked at all the documents, press clippings, photographs and other reference material. We had to redefine the time because we had to include 270 characters in the film. After we put things into perspective, we came up with the structure of the film.

And what is that structure?
We could have made it linear following the story and ended with the blasts. But then many links might have been missed out. So we start the film somewhere in the middle and the film ends where the investigation ends. That’s also where the conspiracy is established — just before the court case starts.

How did you recreate 1993?
That was very difficult because it was pre-liberalisation. There was no Coke, Pepsi, cell phones, or the number of foreign cars you see today. Esteem was the new car then. There were no hoardings of Star or Orange. In that sense, yes, this is a period film. That’s why you’ll see lots of top angles and straight shots. We had to go wide to bring in the city.

You are not from Mumbai, so could you empathise with the story and the victims?
I am from Delhi yes, but I wrote Satya, which was also about Mumbai. That was a film made by outsiders. Every time an outsider makes a film, they see things others can’t see. They bring in objectivity. You have to have a journalistic approach to something like this; you can’t take sides.

Was it difficult shooting Black Friday?
The camera went to places it hasn’t been before. We used 140 locations, shot for 70 days over four-and-a-half months. We shot in 10 cities in four countries with a cast of 270 characters.

We’ve shot in Dongri, the Bombay Stock Exchange, airport, the Air-India building and other blast sites in the city. We’ve also shot in Delhi, Tonk, Jaipur and Dubai. We shot some portions with hidden cameras because we did not want to stage-manage the locations.

We recreated the Worli and Bombay Stock Exchange blasts, complete with bomb squads and fire engines. We have used some special effects for the blast scenes, which are being done by Digital Arts and Media (Koi Mil Gaya, Devdas).

What kind of support did you receive from the producers?
Jhamu Sughand and Mid Day are big names and they’ve trusted and supported me. One pat on the back from Jhamuji after a scene means a lot.

He’s one of the biggest and most powerful producers the industry (Bombay, Lagaan, Rangeela, Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam) and if he is ‘presenting’ Black Friday I know he’ll draw in crowds. And Mid Day’s understanding of the city and the city’s trust for the paper helped a great deal.

What is the status of the film now?
We’ve finished editing and are now doing the sound design and the background score. The film has been completed on schedule because of the artists and the crew. I think it’s been a great partnership. They have worked in difficult conditions.

They’ve worked when the sea was rough; they’ve trekked uphill for 45 minutes, run up a hill with the wind lambasting them… I think this was possible because we had no stars, but a strong ensemble of actors like Kay Kay, Pawan Malhotra and Aditya Srivastava.

You’ve made Paanch and Gulaal, but Black Friday will probably be your first release. What do you feel?
Black Friday is a bigger film than me. It’s a Mid Day, Jhamu Sughand film, not an Anurag Kashyap film. And it’s a great way to begin.

source:mid day

Big ideas, small budget

Big ideas, small budget
By: Kshama Rao
October 6, 2002
When somebody asked producer Viveck Vaswani why he put his money into Everybody Says I’m Fine, he said, “Because my audience told me to. For years now, we have been feeding them with Coolie No 17. They have been gracious enough to accept Coolie No 18. But if we go on to give them Coolie No 19, they are going to stop watching our films.”

Get the point?

Recently, when film star Govinda asked his nephew Krishna if the latter’s debut film Yeh Kaisi Mohabbat was backed by a bigwig producer-director team, Krishna told him that while the producer was a new company, the director was another debutant Dinkar Kapur. That bit of information was enough for mamaji to show the red signal to his bhanja saying, “Pataa nahin kaun log hain, picture kaise banegi?” But Krishna didn’t take his uncle too seriously and promptly went ahead to sign the film. His logic: “I believe in the story which I think is the biggest asset of the film. Now that it’s releasing soon, it makes me glad I did the film.”

Moral of the story: If the script is good, it will definitely shape into a film, and no, it may not even require a star to flag off the project; a fresher will do just fine.

As Viveck Vaswani puts it, “Today’s audience is a discerning lot. They are exposed to world cinema since foreign films comes into their drawing rooms. They are not willing to pay for something unpalatable to their sensibilities.”

Small films are big mantra in today’s film world.

If statistics impress you more than opinion, chew on this. While 95 per cent of the films have flopped so far this year, among the ones that have hit bull’s eye is Vikram Bhatt’s Raaz with the relatively new Dino Morea and Bipasha Basu. Then there was also the moderately successful 16 December which again, barring Danny Denzongpa and Gulshan Grover, had models-turned-actors Milind Soman and Dipannita Sharma starring in it.

Little wonder then, that inspired by these ‘small’ successes, a film is announced every week these days, by more often than not, a new company, with new faces and a start-to-finish schedule.
The current scenario in the Hindi film industry is fast becoming this: no more tried and tested formulae (though there are a few still latching on to safe propositions), budgets that come in only two sizes — small and medium (large and extra-large are reserved only for big ‘losers’ or winners!) and a set-up that’s start-to-finish — that way one can make sure there are no drastic changes in Salman Khan’s hairline and Manisha Koirala’s waistline.

The industry seems to have finally woken up to the one simple fact that the audience is intelligent and would like to be treated likewise. Else, the verdict will always read: ‘Another one bites the dust’.

So there are films as varied as the gangster flick Chhal, Kaante (a biggie without any love stories and conventional heroines), Arjun Sajnani’s Agni Varsha in which everybody including the Big B are attired in ‘Mahabharata’ clothes, the recently released, Pooja Bhatt’s maiden production Sur, about a music guru and his disciple, Jackie Shroff’s two productions Sandhya, a thriller and Boom, Kaizad Gustad’s wacko look at the fashion industry and the underworld.

Raveena Tandon’s first production is a courtroom drama starring her and Vinod Khanna, Vishal Bharadwaj’s Makdee is a children’s film which has Shabana Azmi playing a witch.

The rest of the line-up is something like this: the much-awaited Paanch by Anurag Kashyap, Kushan Nandy’s murder mystery 88 Antop Hill, the Hansal Mehta-directed Dil Chahta Hai-meets-American Pie Yeh Kya Ho Raha Hai, Rajat Rawail’s whodunnit Saazish and Deepak Tijori’s debut production and his directorial venture called Oops! about background dancers. Tijori says, “The budget is about Rs three to four crore. But for that amount I have two negatives, I am making the film in Hinglish for our market and in English for the one overseas. So that’s not bad.”

Oh, and let’s not forget, first-timer Rajesh Sheth’s small effort, Yathharth, which has a crematorium as a backdrop. Good, bad or ugly — it doesn’t matter, as long as the ticket-payers are getting to see something that’s strictly not off the beaten track.

Earlier while films with offbeat/ unusual subjects were few and far between and mostly aimed at the festival circuit, today they are made for the commercial market and even promoted for a theatrical release.

Shravan Shroff of Shringar Films echoes Vaswani’s sentiment on a change in audience expectation. Shroff says, “Today’s audience is exposed to international cinema of world-class quality. A new generation of people is watching today’s movies, which have to experiment with newer things. The tastes of the audience are changing rapidly. Just as people have switched from using MTNL lines to mobile phones, they are constantly looking at newer ideas and want change.”

Shroff continues, “That’s also the reason why foreign films work here today because they experiment with their subjects. The tried and tested does not work and it can’t go on working.

As for the start-to-finish projects, it’s the only organised way to function as it ensures that everybody involved in the film is fully charged and motivated.

Their interest levels are maintained, the budget is not affected and the film is completed in record time. That’s the way they work in the south. So a film with a good, innovative story with a tight budget shot in a definite time span is what every filmmaker should aim at.”

Another reason why producers have no choice but to back unusual stories is, as Trade Guide editor Taran Adarsh puts it, “The lifeline of any film is a solid script. Today, the audience is so discerning that they only want to see something strong but within commercial parameters. Whether a film is good or bad is decided by word of mouth and the feeling is so strong, that if the audience doesn’t like a particular film, they reject it on the first day itself. Word spreads like fire. If the film is bad, they may end up watching it on VCD than venture into theatres. So it’s become imperative that filmmakers give viewers something they have not seen before rather than bear huge losses.”

Sheth’s debut film Yathharth starring Raghuvir Yadav, Milind Gunaji and Shraddha Nigam deals with a story of a girl who rejoices in people’s death only because her father works in a crematorium and earns money when he carries out the last rites of the dead. Says Sheth, “You and I wouldn’t be talking to each other had I made a regular, typical film. If the story of this girl can touch you and me, then in all likelihood there is an audience out there who too would relate to it. Today, there is nothing like commercial cinema and art cinema. Everything boils down to good, sensible cinema. If the film has something worthwhile to offer, the audience, even if it is niche, will definitely accept it.”

The good news is that multiplexes that will soon dot every city and centre, cater to this niche audience. This, as Shravan puts it, “...helps the cause of such films that usually go in for a limited release.” Adds Anil Chopra of Studio Systems, organiser of Cinema India, an Indian Cinema Exhibition Industry Convention to be held later next month, “A couple of years and India will be completely revolutionised by the multiplex system. And that will lead to more and more filmmakers attempting different, sensible cinema. They have to, if they have to compete with foreign films. You can’t continue showing a boy and girl staring at each other on the bus-stop when today they go straight to bed!”

Actor-director Rahul Bose whose first film Everybody Says I’m Fine released recently has the last word, “It’s all about creating a space for the ‘other’ — be it cinema or any other art form. As long as we carve a place for the other cinema, different stories will be told, different films will be made.”

The changed scenario? A few stars have begun to realise the merits of a film that not only gives them a chance to try out something different but is also made fast and released soon. What is increasingly being seen is that most stars these days talk of doing only those projects that excite them.

Bollywood could well be on the verge of something more exciting because time is money and money is precious — a lesson it is learning fast.

Foreign films work here today because they experiment with their subjects.’
— Shravan Shroff of Shringar Films

Everything boils down to good, sensible cinema and if the film has something worthwhile to offer, then the audience, even if it is niche, will definitely accept it.’
— First-time director Rajesh Sheth of Yathharth

Within a budget of about Rs four crore, I have two negatives, a film in Hinglish for our own market and the same film in English for the overseas market.’
— Deepak Tijori

As long as we carve a place for the other cinema, different stories will be told, different films will be made.’
— Rahul Bose, director of Everybody Says I’m Fine

source:mid day

How to make your own film

How to make your own film
By: S Ramachandran
March 2, 2003
1. Find your script

Let it reflect your beliefs and convictions but also ensure it can be made fast and shot cheap. “Make sure your script has limited locations,” advises Anurag Kashyap.

“Have conviction in your script and don’t compromise once it’s ready,” says producer Sanjay Routray.

“Have rehearsals of the script with the actors. They should be well-versed with the film. It saves on the cost,” adds Kashyap.

“Make your film on a shoestring budget. The best way to beat the star system is with economical films,” says music director-turned-director Vishal Bharadwaj.

2. Check money status

Work out the cost of the film and then do whatever it takes to get at least 20 per cent of the amount.

“I borrowed some money from friends. Then I put in whatever I earned from my music direction into Makdee,” says Bharadwaj about his debut film.

Kashyap who also wrote Satya says, “I thought after Satya, a lot of people would want to put money into my film, but that was not the case. I had to cut my debut film Train to Mahakali and premiere it on TV.

For Paanch I had to go from producer to producer for five years. My film kept getting rejected because of its ending. Producer Tutu Sharma was the only one who agreed.

“But now for my next film, Gulal, I am going through the same routine,” says Kashyap. Routray says, “Get your money organised before you start shooting.

Otherwise you’ll end up shelving the film midway for lack of finances or you may have to go and beg for money.

A filmmaker should concentrate on making his film, not raising money during the middle of the shoot.

3. Get cast and crew

Get people who need work and are good. “You should get people who are dying to work. People who are not interested in money, but in working.

And the cast should be good. If you have very good performances, people will overlook other flaws,” says Kashyap.

Routray does things at a tangent to this. “Get the people you want to work with. Tell them you are shooting the film at a stretch and finish your shoot fast.

Let me tell you the example of my dressman during the shoot of Matrubhumi.

A dressman gets paid a lakh for a film which gets completed in a year. I paid him Rs 25,000 for a one-month schedule. Agreed that he made much less for my film, but he made it in a month.

So it is better for both. That’s why pre-preparations for the film are more important than running around later,” he says.

Of course, if you manage to convince your cast and technicians that you will pay them later if the film makes money, your job is done. You save on around 25 per cent of the cost.

4. Raise 25 per cent

It is easy to get 25 per cent credit from the market once you have the set-up ready. Kodak even sponsors the sound negative worth a lakh of rupees for experimental filmmakers, says Routray.

Vishal Bharadwaj has a word of caution: “Don’t go to a government organisation like Children’s Film Society of India for your first film.

They will butcher it. They only give you Rs 50 lakh and then dictate too many terms.

I had gone to them. Sai Paranjpye wanted to chop my film Makdee into half. I preferred to get out of the deal. Makdee has been a huge success and critically acclaimed as well.

Today I am making a Rs 10 crore film Mia Maqbool with Naseeruddin Shah, Tabu and Om Puri because of Makdee,” says Bharadwaj.

“Avoid indulging producers or anyone else. Once you start compromising, you keep on doing it. For starters, don’t allow the producer to cast his nephew in the lead role.

Such compromises never stop and ultimately, your film is not what it was when it began,” says Routray, executive producer (EP) of Paanch which was completed in Rs 1.25 crore.

He was a co-producer in Makdee which was completed in a crore and is currently co-producing Matrubhumi at a cost of Rs 1.70 crore.

5. Get financier

Offer something tangible to the man putting in the remaining money, like the satellite and overseas rights of the film, for example.

“The Indian video and overseas rights of Makdee sold for Rs 31 lakh.

We made Rs 40 lakh from the satellite telecast of the film, which will premiere on March 6 on Zee TV,” says Routray.

6. Identify locations

Plan properly and make sure your locations are right, that makes it easier to wrap up faster. Vishal Bharadwaj shot in Goa and Mumbai for Makdee.

Matrubhumi is being shot in Harda, MP, at the house of a local leader. Anurag shot in a moving train and on Mumbai’s streets. He also shot at his house. Vishal is shooting his next film in Bhopal.

Makdee was shot in 23 days, Paanch in 37 and Matrubhumi in 27 days. And yes, Train to Mahakali was shot in four days. For the record, the south Indian film Swayamwaram was shot in a day.

7. Start shooting

Raw stock costs Rs 8,700 per can of 400 sq ft. An experimental film consumes around 42,400 sq ft which is 106 cans.

So you can can your films cheap if your script is ready, the actors believe in you and the technicians are ready to work with a promise of being paid later or are working for a low fee.

8. What next

Drop the newspaper and go get your script.


Story, screenplay and dialogue
Technical crew (cinematographer, editor, sound, choreographer etc)
Studio, set, props and costumes
Equipment on hire
Raw stock and lab
Recording and editing (post production)
General expenses (insurance, catering, transportation, etc)
Daily wages and allowances
Accommodation and travel
Unforeseen expenses
Total Plus cost of cast, accommodation and travel
Rs 5 lakh
Rs 4 lakh
as per script

Rs 20 lakh
Rs 15 lakh
Rs 14 lakh
Rs 15 lakh
Rs 20 lakh
Rs 17.5 lakh

Rs 12 lakh
Rs 10 lakh
as per location
Rs 5 lakh


Reading list

How I made a hundred movies in Hollywood and never lost a dime by Roger Corman

The king of Hollywood’s lowbudget films, on his filmmaking

My first movie edited by Stephen Lowenstein

Twenty celebrated directors talk about their first film

Who The Devil Made It? by Peter Bogdanovich

Celebrated director Peter Bogdanovich interviews Robert Aldrich, George Cukor, Allan Dwan, Howard Hawks, Alfred Hitchcock, Chuck Jones, Fritz Lang, Joseph H Lewis, Sidney Lumet, Leo McCarey and Otto Preminger

Easy Riders Raging Bulls by Peter Biskind

This book tells you how the Sex-Drugs-and-Rock ’N’ Roll Generation saved Hollywood in the ’60s and ’70s.

The book charts the phenomenal rise of such icons as Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola, Peter Bogdonavich, Hal Ashby, Robert Altman, George Lucas, and Steven Spielberg

Feature Filmmaking at Used-car Prices by Rick Schmidt

The book tells you how to write, produce, direct, shoot, edit and promote a full length feature film for less than $15,000

My first film: Anurag Kashyap

It was called Train to Mahakali, made in 1999. It was a 63-minute film made at a cost of Rs 2.5 lakh.

I had an actor who stole the camera at night from the TV channel he was working for. He replaced it in the morning without anyone knowing about it, so my equipment came free.

Then I reached Virar station and hijacked the last compartment of the last train to Churchgate.

There I shot my scenes, which had already been rehearsed. I got a good 15 minutes of footage from that. We disembarked at Andheri Station and also shot there.

Then we moved on to the airport in an autorickshaw and shot in the rickshaw too. Our production van (a Maruti Gypsy) doubled up as a police vehicle after we put a red light on top of it.

Then we shot at the producer Manish Tiwari’s home in Thakur Complex at Andheri.

The next day we shot at my house. Then we hired a place at Kamalistan studios and finished the shoot with the location doubling up as a police cell and police station.

The film was completed in four days.

source:mid day

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Anurag Kashyap: “I suffered a lot because of Anil Kapoor and I will not forget it!”

Anurag Kashyap: “I suffered a lot because of Anil Kapoor and I will not forget it!”

“I moved out of Ramu’s camp as I wanted to make different cinema and we have different views.”

Guess what’s common between Satya, Shool, Yuva and Water? The contribution of one man, Anurag Kashyap, the talented script writer. Though he’s one of Bollywood’s ace scriptwriters, he is also considered a jinxed filmmaker. Reason? All his films Pannch, Black Friday and Gulal are lying in the cans. But Lady Luck is finally smiling on him and his Black Friday (based on the infamous Bombay bomb blasts) hits the theatres this Friday. A jubilant Anurag spoke to us about his trails and tribulations....

“Except for a few producers there’s a dearth of producers who understand original writing.”

You’ve finally broken the ‘jinx’ with Black Friday.
“(Sighs) I’m still jittery and it will continue till Black Friday releases this Friday. Initially when industry people called me a jinxed filmmaker, I used to laugh, but latter it played on my mind.”

It’s been a long struggle with both your films Paanch and Black Friday getting stuck.
“Yes, it was. It affected my health and I also put on weight due to stress. Hopefully it will be smooth sailing after this.”

“I have some issues with Guru but I don’t want to discuss it in the media.”

Will you attempt another controversial film now?
“Black Friday is not controversial. We started this film after sorting out all the legal issues. It’s a film based on facts. Everyone knows what happened in Mumbai and we are simply putting in on the big screen. Basically the film is about the police investigation, how the Mumbai police cracked and solved the case. When we started the film our battery of lawyers made sure that everything is legal and within the framework of the law, but then too it ran into endless trouble.”

Besides your films getting stuck, you are constantly at loggerheads with your producers; be it Ram Gopal Varma, TuTu Sharma or Deepa Mehta?
“I moved out of Ramu’s camp as I wanted to make different cinema and we have different views. And I’m still friends with TuTu and Deepa Mehta.”

You wrote the script for Deepa Mehta’s Water which got shelved. Eventually she made the film without you?
“I wrote the dialogues in the old film and even in the new Water.”

Another of your films Allwyn Kallicharan too has been stuck?
“Allwyn Kalicharan got shelved because the hero Anil Kapoor developed cold feet at the last minute. First he said he loved the script, but latter got insecure about the other actor’s role. And he didn’t have the guts to come and tell me that. He just kept postponing it and at the end I understood his game plan and decided to abandon the project altogether. I suffered a lot because of Anil Kapoor and I will not forget it.”

Are you saying that you will never work with him again?
“I don’t think I will ever work with him. I tried to get in touch with him, but there was no response from him.”

Do you agree when filmmakers says there’s a serious dearth of original writers in Bollywood?
“No, why blame the writers? I think except for a few producers there’s a dearth of producers who understand original writing.”

Have you ever copied from a Hollywood movie?
“I have copied dialogues, because some of my producers wanted me to do that. And I had to do that to survive. But I haven’t blatantly copied the entire film.”

Wasn’t Guru another bitter experience? We heard that Mani Ratnam changed your story in the final draft?
“I had written two drafts, and Mani Sir wanted to change certain things, but I couldn’t work on it as I had to go to the US. Mani Sir took over and made some changes. I have no issues with that. But yes, I would have loved to make the changes myself.”

So are you happy with the end result?

“I have some issues with Guru but I don’t want to discuss it in the media; it will be blown out of proportion. And I have the highest regard possible for Mani Sir. I will do anything for him.”

- Gautam Buragohain

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Rebel Without A Pause Anurag Kashyap

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Anurag Kashyap

Last Updated:
Oct 13, 2006
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Age: 101
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Tuesday, November 07, 2006

No Smoking-Frustrations Galore

The reason we are so behind as a a filmmaking nation is that we don't love making films..since i started this blog there are only advices and complains from the filmmaking drunk out of my sound equipment hung up on me..i couldn't take the vertical shot of the hospital because the camera didn't have a vertical tilt grip..the problem with this country is that when we import equipments,we import second hand spare parts and we assemble them here..our government does not treat filmmaking more than an exercise in vanity..maybe we deserve wonder when faced with beaureaucracy oliver stone decided to take his alexander to thailand..the reason we make most films abroad is because when we go there things are made available to us..most countries in the world look at films as the means to promote tourism, so they invite us, make all possibilities and let cinema prevail..our custom duties, our tax system and our policies make it impossible to import genuine new equipments..hence they can't be insured..hence noone who owns it wants to take a chance..and there is a lot to recover so they use it till its beyond not usable..they don't service it..and they fuck up in general..

now why am i complaining..because i have to beg and plead the guys to allow me to put 535 on the steadicam..i have to deal with the sync sound system hanging up..i have to deal with delays..there are hardly ten cameras in this country which are flawless..the kino flos go off mid shot..we have twenty fucking electricians working all the time as we still use the old lighting systems..our plugboards are the same handmade boards that were invented simultaneously with the loud assembeled generators for god the coming back to no smoking ,i am one scene and two shots behind the schedule..why?..the delays..

SRK says now we are not afraid of losing money because tie-ins and various other ways and methods can now be used to make have stopped making we make haldiram's recipe pleases all..or that's what we think..then applaud ourselves and repeat all over again..i have finished nine days of shooting and i am scared smoking needs to be treated and stylised,but how can i treat it if our technical delays won't stop..who has the time to make a film..every thing needs to be explained and understood, says the distributor…spoonfeeding..i can't..

OK..whatever i wrote before this was yesterday..saw the rushes happy..does anyone believe in state of mind today contradicts yesterday's..three days gap starts today..before we shoot the streets on sunday..why is it that we can shoot townside only on sundays..
SUNDAY-what a great shoot..the day started late..john had the flu..he still showed up..i started by shooting closeups using one of my adS as john's hand..that guy wore john's trousers..john freaked out on him..i got worried i went to him and he winked at me and said he was just fucking with them..there is generally so much sweat and humidity on sets that wearing pants that someone else has sweated on can cause anything..i asked them to have duplicate trousers made in the future..then it rocked..i took john in the heart of mohammad ali roads, in the ghettos..he was instantly mobbed..the crowd wouldn't let us shoot..i got angry and hit a guy with the people warned me to keep my calm..i started ranting about how can we ever shoot on streets if people won't let friday was impossible to shoot we could still do it because actors were pretty unknown..with john..i can't and won't..we had to leave..we went back to the base ..we had to shoot there two hours we planned..charted out the route..rigged two cameras on the SUV..rehearsed the whole long scene with john and left..there still was a crowd..there always is quipped rajkumar..i know..i retorted..we still shot ..we got our shot because we were always moving..we all depended on john who was driving and acting with half his left point of view completely blocked..i had to give the clap with one hand and simultaneously put on the camera on the side rig..and john drove like a champion dodging crowds..bikers chasing us to be in the frame..john took the challenge ,gave them the wheelies..on screen the desperation that his charecter needed to have got accentuated because of the situation..the sequence rocked..the mohammed ali road atmosphere,unadulterated ,non-cosmetic with john in the thick of it was wild..dying to see the dailies,hoping its as good or better than what i saw on the monitor..we had to go back again..john broke traffic signals..its so amazing when your actor is also a great driver..he shoul have been in the i going crazy raving about him..i was ecstatic,after the shoot i even send him a SMS saying-i love you..i hope he doesn't thing i am gay..
Then it all began actress is delayed by three house set is standing..costing us two lakhs a day..first it took us three monthe to find a genuine penthouse in the heart of the city in the highest tower,then two weeks to convince the owner..then further do it up maccording to how we needed it..since we are using the bath tub as the entry point to K's had to be strategically we converted the terrace into the glass can see the entire city when the man is in where was troubles..never ending..we planned according to her dates..why is it that actresses do two much it because they are not paid as much as their male counterparts or is it because her role is not as good as john..but then it always was K's so frustrated..then i got bad allergy because of all the cigarettes and dust and humidity..Ronchii detected in my lungs..slept for twelve hours..
Raj kumar santoshi finally couldn't make it at the last moment..we got Kiku..the actor who plays every one from illaiya raja to lata mangeshkar to bappi lahri on the great indian comedy show..we made him look like rajkumar santoshi..people are going to be confused..if they do get that way, will i be bet..kiku was good..
am discoverin a lot of things..Ninad our grip guy doesn't say no to any shot i would design..things that you can do..i wish i worked with him before..have to call him..he is suddenly bed ridden..the cramps he has been having was due to will i function without him..have to..his people should pull it off ..only if he can tell them how to go about it..why don't we insure our films..
have to go now.. saw departed..all you detractors of that film..go to hongkong..i loved that movie..except the endin was a bit hindi film..especially the outside the elevators scene.."tujhe kya lagta hai sirf tu hi bika hua hai..main bhi frank ka chooha tha" dialogue sucked..every thing else rocked..martin scorcese zindabad..until later.

9:56 AM - 4 Comments - 4 Kudos - Add Comment

Friday, October 27, 2006

No Smoking - Finally Begun

Finally shooting has begun..finally Ayesha Takia is locked in..finally major problems have begun..The day before the shoot, finally when K(john abraham)'s car arrived,,i really didn't know what i had gotten myself into..Pajero from the fiat era..that looked like a beaten up how can my character who lives on the 35th floor in worli, signs cheques of obscene amounts without a thought could drive a vehicle like that..but its a pajero sir..who gives a fuck doesn't look like it.. had no option..asked my producer's car crazy son to fix it or i won't shoot.. my producer has gone nuts, he has banned smoking on the sets..a joke taken so far, that he fined me 500 bucks and then mother of them all..he gave me a reciept for it..somebody help me..
slowly i think john and me are understanding each gets difficult sometimes to collaborate when a lot of actors come from a school of filmmaking where its always the director who tells them how to act and how to say..i don' i think he was little confused when he showed me two different ways of doing a scene and i said either is good ,then he showed me a third option and i found that good too..he looked him i probably looked like someone who didn't know what i wanted..then i told him about the moment..i explained to him what works for me..i told him to be in the moment, see where the mood takes him..react accordingly and not act..he did that, i loved it..he still probably wasn't sure..good he is hungry..he is so willing to do it well..even his detractor in my team is now agreeable..
shot the flashbacks..shot them like a they did it in natural born killers..complete with the laugh was shlok's idea..which i immediately rejected..then gautam my casting director heard it ..he explained it to me..gave me the example of NBK..i understood.. now how different am i from those whose minds don't function without a much for being original..
Ranveer has decided to play abbas tyrewala with a squint and a perm..he couldn't understand why the character is called what he is called..wouldn't the real abbas have a problem..well, real abbas ditched me..he was to play the role..this is my revenge..ha ha..
Press is going crazy over how john is going naked in the film..well he is but its hardly a sex scene..we don't even know whether we will just suggest it or actually do it..women are calling me, wanting to be his ass handlers..we have to do some underwater i am wary of doing it in a pool..noone here can make that big a water can't hold that much force of the fuck do they do it in me with your innumerable options barring jenna jameson oz..(i like teagan by the way)..
DAY -1..we shot on the streets on diwali rigged on..lights reflecting on the windscreens and john driving like a nut on crowded almost looked like he will run some one over..what control..and what a great looking vehicle he got day..hmmmmmmmmmmmm
DAY -2..we shot the russian news reader..stripping and reading news was hilarious and crowded on the sets..every one wanted to see how far are we taking the stripping bit..i hope we got the language one except Vlada who read the news knew the language..she was also the one who translated it from english..have to take her word for it..
DAY-3..shot the flashbacks..the sitcom was hilarious..have to yet see the dailies of CUBA hotel room..last moment i decided to give Alex (Joy fernandes) two women with him..we got two six-footers from Reykjavik..tania and sarah..they were such sports..that too in bikinis..half my crew had a crush on them..the other half's sexual repression found its way to their eyes..we largely improvised it on 18 FPS..i don't know yet how it looks..i hope i am not going overboard..I owe to Don and Jaan-e-man..watching them i realised how technique is killing stotytelling..have to be so bloody careful..sometimes we get so carried away in the moment we forget the larger picture..have to stop falling in love with my own shots..
DAY-4..started with a delay..someone forgot the keys to the lock to the bar we were to shoot in..we had to cut the lock..great shoot.. ranveer looked hilarious and menacing in his newly acquired perm..we used a lot of neons to light up the scene..its so bloody dangerous to shoot with neons..all naked going to use "those were the days" by Mary hopkin to begin the sequence..john was very natural in the first take..then i don't know why he asked for a second one and something magical happened..he took a sip of the champagne(real one),that hit him in the nose..and something that he did, the way he pressed his eyes and without losing his focus he delivered it straight..i didn't expect that..nor did anyone..all reacted..ranveer who worked with him on his first film Jism reacted too.."Fuck John ,you have grown so much"he remarked..Vishal dropped in with matthew..they fuckin loved the becomes such a vanity exercise on the sets that one only wants to here wows and damngoods..and i feel so insecure ..i do my shot divisions on the spot..always feeling haven't taken enough shots..then we moved to my house doubled up as abbas's house..fuck do people give their house for shooting..i was worried constantly about rajkumar stealing my DVD's..our special effects assistant fucked up..prashant is the name of the fuck up..he forgot to co-ordinate the green gloves..the art department produced one of the worst quality rings that abbas was suppose to wear..had to hide and shoot it..two pending shots for later..
DAY-5..big big big fuck up..lack of communication..lack of co-ordination..couldn,t shoot the damn hotel set up..tania and sarah were in the in his kaftaan..we couldn't do it..because we wasted three hours waiting for the damn chair..we needed a psychiatrist room set up..we needed a black and grey and white feel to it..the damn massage chair cost a body had the balls to ask the body had the courage to tell me..all they kept saying was "aa rahi hai sir"..wasted wasted fucking the time we got to finish the psychiatrist room the shift was over..couldn't do the hotel room..i was angry..rajkumar furious..called a production shoot for two days..need to co-ordinate better..
Haven't been sleeping well..coughing constantly..still drinking, though only two drinks..have this big fear of something horrible is going to happen..thank god i have a great team..going to use the lowloader for street scene..don't even know what it looks like ,how it functions..only magical entry shot of a car i remember is from colour of money..i was told i can get my movements during the car talkie scenes using the low loader..lets see..we are going to shoot in the heart of south bombay..lets see..que sera sera ..
Departed finally releasing in bombay..hopefully trade center on the same day..oliver stone and scorcese on the same day..cancelling shoot on third..

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Wednesday, October 18, 2006

NO SMOKING-hmmmmmmm so many decisions still not taken

Spent yesterday waiting for John to get free from his meeting..saw the thai-combodian-hongkong movie Dog bite dog..outstanding..FACEOFF meets OLDBOY ..rajkumar got upset with me because i asked someone to get me tickets for DON..
Raj k.-"how can you watch other films in the middle of your shoot"..
ME .-"sameway like you have the sexual urge 24/7?
he got angrier..first fight..many to come..had the big production meeting..i don't know how to do the flash backs,if i use animation it would look too much like KILLBILL..don't want to do it normally..neither do i want to do it abnormally..the whole film is abnormal anyway..i need more time with myself away from schedules..the production hustle do people do shot divisions..i can't..have always been spontaneous..that's the only way i can work..
We discussed the Probe lens yesterday..great can go anywhere..hope it doesn't go up my ass..need to find out how much it costs..are we ready for tomo nights it really tomo..or day after..i am so confused..a day before diwali..night before..that's when there will be most available light..thank god for supreme crackers after ten..we could shoot easily..hope they don't put off the decorations..
Discussed the song today..gave varun's song to Vishal..everyone loved it..good song dost..finally got our main house location..if we need to begin house on seventh..we need to finalise the actress in next one week..Wasiq(my art director for all my films) got the baba bangali card designs.. prayogshala designs have come in paresh rawal or irrfan or naseer or big b..two more clarity..need to lock by mid next month..why is every one so will i shoot the alex song..what can one do with songs that no one has done before..should i just leave it to the choreographer..we should get Prabhu Deva..
Big reading today at John's house..matthew is coming..hope narendra would be there too.. ready with john's shoot..aarti(paanch,black friday,salaam-e-ishq,gulaal) is the editor..Rajiv Ravi(chandni bar,gulaal) is the cameraman,Kunal(all my films,devdas,etc) is doing the sound..who am i missing..Anna is the costume designer..nari is doing john's suits..i want to kill Gautam(my casting director)..who the fuck will play my Gabbar..can someone get me Jack Martin Guru, mere khuda..any suggestions..needs to be between 45 to 60 or more..needs to be slightly saleable to justify the budget..Kaykay doesn't fit..

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Monday, October 16, 2006

No Smoking - 8 years in the Making

It all started eight years ago when i was shooting for SATYA that Ramu told me a story about a chain smoker who gets into trouble with someone who hates smoking( a variation of which he shot in DARNA MANA HAI)..that sparked off an idea..which Ramu instantly laughed and scoffed at..i thought there was something in there but i didn't know what..i toyed with it for long..had something roughly there but it was too much like THE GAME..after PAANCH got banned i was desperate to make a film..Paanch had a good buzz..there were producers who wanted me to make films for them..i met Boney Kapoor ,narrated him the incomplete idea which was then called, Cigarette smoking is injurious to health..He point blank, told me ,"Go back to the planet you came from"..every one thought it was weird, but none of them knew irreverence..

Kaykay loved the idea..only thing he said was that it's incomplete(how much i love that man)..i almost gave up on it, till RAJA assistant in black friday and my lead actor in GULAL(some body even suggested we were probably sleeping together)..him off all the people, while playing squash said he has written a script for a short film on a chain smoker who wakes up one morning without a smoke and there is a curfew outside..he wanted me to act as the character..what a fantastic idea..i agreed to do the role on the condition that i am going to use his short to complete my incomplete script..we made the didn't work..Raja was a better actor and a writer than he was the filmmaker..i took his short and completed the treatment..

Six months later i was at mariott with my producer friend nilesh dadhich and vinny mitra the director of MERIDIAN and while showing off how weird one can get i narrated my script..i improvised spontaneously..they loved it ,i loved narrating it felt was on..but it was costly ,nilesh told me .. we need a star.. i said no one but kaykay..i went to london the following month..we were showing Black Friday at BITE THE MANGO in Bradford..nilesh asked me to look up his partner Angad Paul(LOCK STOCK AND TWO SMOKING BARRELS) and narrate him the script..i did..he said its too weird,needs a star..get shahrukh..i decided to fuck it ..i am not going without kaykay..then the worst period of my life started..Black Friday got stuck..couldn't get money for gulaal..i started drinking again..nivi (kaykay's wife) told me stop thinking about everyone..try and get a release first,get a star ,make a movie, kaykay will understand..i went to SRK..

Now there is a history i share with SRK..we went to the same college,we both played for the college hockey team,he was an astounding sportsman,hockey captain..i was the vice captain..but..four years apart from each other..i never went to him for anything using that card..this time i did..he claimed to have known me from delhi..or of me..he wasvery warm and kind and nice..he was growing his hair..Don had not yet started shooting..SRK loved or may be pretended to have loved the idea..he said .."you are talented,why are you wasting yourself over such absurd films"..he said make this film after you are in a position to experiment..gave me the example of Black..i told him Black according to me was an exercise in vanity and megalomania..but circumstances were such that i was open to mainstream..i mentioned meeting him to Ritesh Sidhwani..i had done the hindi version of dialogues for Reema's HONEYMOON TRAVELS PVT. LTD. which he was producing..Farhan and Zoya have always been a big support to me..emotionally and of the scripts written by zoya and reema was optioned by ritesh..he asked me would i like tolook at it..i looked at it..great idea..ritesh then asked me to develop it further with SRK in mind and he will produce it for me..i narrated my smoking story instead..he reacted exactly like others..i was losing my story..i wanted a way out..i didn't even have the courage to say i don't want to do Zoya's story..(haven't said it till date)i just kept escaping them, kept escaping what started to look like my fate..then out of the blue i found finance for Gulaal..

we went to jaipur to shoot gulaal..meanwhile PAHELI got nominated for the OSCARS from india..i got a call from SRK..he needed help to campaign for paheli in the US..i put him on to CHRISTINA(the greek woman who holds the flag for the indian films in the heart of Hollywood) and NOEL..kept in touch with him(kind of)..then Gulaal was stopped midshoot because the money promised wasn't realised..ah motherfucking jinxxx was being such a bitch..i had an anxiety attack..was flown to bombay..admitted..heart condition..broke..alcoholic..fucked..i called SRK..he said he will get back..i sms'd AAMIR..he said he will get back in march..i called on Jaideep Sahni..he was now with Yashraj..he tried to help..adi was too busy..i could have done anything at that moment..i didn't know what to do..where to go..before the media found out that gulaal got stopped after finishing 80% of the shoot and the superstitious lot sealed my fate i had to get on to something..that's when reports on WATER started to filter in..they were praising an oppurtunist of circumstances i called was nine thirty in the morning after i drank all night..he asked me if i could meet him in next half an hour..i said yes..was fifteen minutes late..i knew he too would laugh at my smoking i made up a story on the way to his house..

he heard my made up story and instantly hated it..he said tell me something more intelligent(he really said that)..i took a deep breath and told him the smoking story..he fucking loved it..i told him i have no producer..he said he will find me one..he spoke to UTV..they didn't like it..too bizzarrre..i told him officially the story was still lying with SRK..he said until and unless SRK doesn't let go of it ..i will amount to be a double crossing son of a bitch..i called SRK and told him i was going to someone else..he naturally assumed i was going to kaykay..he advised me again..i didn't want to arrogance still probably was far greater than theirs..i still believed that if only my films would have come out, it would have been different..but then that arrogance was fucked with,fingered with..kicked out of all production offices inspite of john being unconditionally on board..

then i got a call from Vishal..he had seen my last seven years and still somehow had not lost faith..he asked me that would i like to make a film for him.."neki aur poochh poochh" ..i narrated him cigarette smoking is injurious to health..he loved it..finally..someone who truly loves films..he asked me to come to his set of omkaara the next day and narrate the script to Kumar Mangat..Now here is a man who looks like the most conventional producer in bombay bot he isn't..he loved it too..his son loved it fucking three..i was on..they offered SAIF..i said JOHN..the man stood by me..i will like hell stand by him..they didn't even was just me being defensive..they agreed and asked for a meeting..with john..they met..i waited for things to move..they had omkara to be busy with..negativity abound..i started thinking it won't happen before they could tell me it was all a mistake..i left the country..escaped to LA..thats when i met OZ..hung out in NEWYORK.. walked the streets..till i got a call from kumar mangat and vishal asking me when am i coming back to india as they have signed was everyone wanted the whole script which was only in my head and as a thirty page treatment on paper..

so i wrote for next three days ..met john in NEWYORK..saw united 93 together..came back and found everyone busy with omkara..negativity..when you have been fucked so many times in life,you tend not to believe anyone or anything..that's how i was..i left again, this time for rishikesh..almost making those lose faith in me who were the only ones in this miserable place to trust me..somehow..good sense prevailed..and the only change they asked me to do was to change its name to NO SMOKING..

thats the story of this film and that's how i have JOHN we saw BARTON FINK together..and he is going to rock..and the grip is on said that you are never going to fail unless you try also said that reality is the place where the pizza delivery man comes from..cheers only if Scorcese could smile on me..

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Surely You're Joking Mr. Kashyap - By Abbas Tyrewalla

"Surely you're joking, Mr.Kashyap."
All my hatred and envy was reserved for Anurag because I understood his work. My hatred was based on respect. My hatred was based on love. Of course, I didn't know it then.
by: Abbas Tyrewala on Aug 16 2001 12:00AM

You carried the torch, my naïve friend. And they pissed on it.

Remember that silly high jump contest in school, where you had to jump and make a chalk mark on the wall? You were my wall. A wall for me to scale. Every achievement of mine was secret chalk mark I made to gauge my efforts against yours. And now, there are crimson spittle stains on the wall.

Eleanor Roosevelt carried this prayer in her purse during the Second World War:

Dear Lord
Lest I continue
My complacent way
Help me to remember
Somewhere out there
A man died for me today
-- As long as there be war
I then must ask and answer
Am I worth dying for?

There is a war being fought today. A war that few know about and even fewer care about. It is the war to preserve a modicum of intelligence in Hindi cinema. It is the struggle to nurture the remnants of creative integrity and expression in the largest film industry in the world. The warriors are the people who dare to defy market bromides, formulae and mantras, who dare to create and express on their own terms, for their own desperate, passionate need to make films.

Films, not proposals. Films, not marketing vehicles. Films, not an ensemble of stars performing an elaborate music video.

The enemy is an Axis of omnipotent but anonymous allies.

When Manmohan Desai asserted that his formula was one 'item' every ten minutes, was he aware that he was playing Frankenstein? Did he recognize the monstrosity he was unleashing upon the industry he so loved and came to symbolize?

The inheritors of Manji's legacy forgot that 'items' are mean to garnish and enhance the content of a film, not replace it. They replaced it. 'Fight scenes' replaced human drama, 'melodrama' replaced motivation, 'songs' replaced exposition, 'comedy tracks' replaced comic insights and Hindi cinema was reduced to a rugby joke.

The Axis also involves the Viewer. Reluctantly and because they were offered no alternatives, the Viewer gave up. He not only got accustomed to the repetitive inanities of Bollywood, he actually came to enjoy it. But this ally of the brain-dead retained a conspiratorial connection with the Light Brigade. The fathers of mainstream cinema scratched their heads in confusion when Ardh Satya ran for twenty-five weeks and Ankush opened to full houses. And how could Shyam Benegal keep making films? Obviously, someone was paying money to watch these films, but who?

The answer was never revealed. The Resistance stayed underground, surfacing every odd Friday for a guerilla attack on benumbed sensibilities.

Slowly, the Resistance gained in strength, putting up their posters openly and actually releasing films like Parinda, Roja, Satya, Hyderabad Blues, Terrorist and Zubeida. The enemy panicked. The Viewer was of course the principle ally. If the Viewer once again got used to intelligent films, where would that leave us: We, the Showmen? We, the Dream Makers? We, the Sellouts?

But the Axis had one more ally. More powerful than any other. An antediluvian monster that forgot to die, and was institutionalized by the moral brigade. The Censor Board.

An image from 'The Fountainhead' has always haunted me. You are locked in a room with a malevolent monster, diseased and salivating and vicious. He is going to kill you. You have no weapons to fight it. Your only hope for survival is to appeal to its reason, to its intellect -- to explain to it that it will achieve nothing by killing you. But the monster has no faculty for reason. It has no intellect. It will kill you.

I met Anurag Kashyap in 1995 when I was working part time in Crest Communication and instantly hated him for having started writing before me. I played safe: I worked as a copywriter for a year and as a creative consultant for a TV company, while all the time dying to write movies. Anurag shrugged at such notions of financial security. When I finally took the plunge, Anurag had already written Satya, Kaun and Shool.

He was actually writing the kind of subjects that I dreamed and fantasized about. People were paying him money to write them, making films based on them.

I watched his films with vicious intent, rejoicing everytime a line sucked or scene fell flat. I didn't care about more successful or better known writers. All my hatred and envy was reserved for Anurag because I understood his work. My hatred was based on respect. My hatred was based on love. Of course, I didn't know it then.

Imagine, then, my chagrin when Anurag was signed on to direct a film even before I had had my first release as a scriptwriter. And fathom my frustration when he signed me on to pen the lyrics. The gumption of the man! I was so angry, I wrote the best damn lyrics ever in my life, determined to outshine the brilliance of the director with my poetic heroism, like a desperate sub-plot trying to distract from the main narrative.

I expected to be thrown out after the very first attack. But every assault of mine was met with enthusiastic -- no, excited -- deliriously excited reactions from Anurag. He loved every song I wrote. The courage of this man. The heroism!

Until I realised, one day, that it was not courage at all. It was innocence. An innocence that was completely unaware of my intentions. He wanted to make a film, a good film, a great film if possible, and he saw my vicious attacks as genuine contributions to the film's welfare. Childlike in his intentions, he suspected no malice in mine. How do you defeat a man who is unaware that you are raging a battle against him with everything that you do, everything that you have? I gave up. Anurag almost won.

Almost. At the last minute, the Censor Board launched its secret weapon.

Anurag screened Paanch for this Jurassic wonder. At the end of the screening, a man who I believe is a primary school teacher called Anurag in and asked him what cinema meant to him. Anurag asked in turn what it meant to him and the man replied, without blinking an eyelid, that it meant 'healthy entertainment'. Healthy entertainment, according to Masterji, was absent in Paanch. He asked why there were no 'positive characters' in the film. Obviously it would have been a complete waste of time to explain the concept of a noir film to the gentleman; Anurag explained instead that all the characters were to him positive to some degree.

The gentleman then suggested that the film was too violent.

I have seen Paanch. Its wizardry lies in creating a sense of violence without its explicit depiction. The film gets under your skin, creates the kind of dirty residue that normally remains in the aftermath of a street fight. Instead, Teacher Rex felt that this film glorifies violence. Anurag asked for specific scenes that had bothered the Board, which he was willing to defend and delete if necessary. No instances were forthcoming; the man was too busy objecting to the language now.

Then came the piece de resistance. The man said that the film was too long for a thriller. He arbitrarily asked Anurag to trim it by forty minutes! Too long for a thriller. Oh Anurag, I wish I had been there to see your face. The joy it would have given my aching heart to see your initial lack of comprehension, then the rage and then the helplessness; the intense desire to ask this gentleman where he kept his cane so you could put it where it belonged. Too long for a thriller. Marvelous!

Maybe Once Upon A Time In America should have been cut down from four and a half to two hours. Oh wait a minute, they did. And reduced a classic to a schizophrenic collection of visuals. Isn't Bertolucci's 1900 too long for an epic? Well, it does encompass the story of a century, so I guess it can stretch to five hours. And thank God cricket matches last an entire day, or else Lagaan would have had to be trimmed by an hour or so.

But a thriller! What in a thriller justifies two hours and forty-five minutes? Your story? Your development of characters? Your plot? Your choice?

Surely you're joking, Mr.Kashyap.

At the end of it all, Anurag Kashyap was refused certification for his film.

Fortunately, he reserves the right to appeal to a Revising Committee and subsequently even to the Judiciary. I hope that the idiocy that characterized his recent ordeal will not mark the subsequent process of rectification.

Is Paanch too long a film? I think so. Anurag doesn't. Is Paanch a great film? I don't know. Who decides?

The Viewer. Only the goddamn Viewer and no one else.

I have seen the herculean effort that went into creating this film. I have seen the heartbreak, the conflicts, the highs and lows, the delirium and the genius that marked the process. I was present in the studio when Anurag kissed everyone in sight, including myself, because he had no other way of conveying his delight at the song. I was present when Anurag kept pushing his agitated cinematographer to attempt a scene with almost no lights. I was fortunate enough to share the ride without running the risks. Anurag ran the risks. Paanch is a year of Anurag's life.

And today, with the checkered flag in sight, a frustrated referee with no concept, no awareness of the medium is signaling an indefinite pit stop.

Let us not even dwell on some of the inanities, the obscenities and the regressive outrages that the Board has passed to date. These are not the reasons Anurag's film deserves a certificate.

It deserves a certificate because he made a film with passion and with love.

If today, no voices are raised in protest, in defiance of this murderous monolith, then we lose forever the moral right to complain about the lack of intelligence, the absence of imagination and the dearth of heroes in Hindi cinema.

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NO SMOKING - Three Days To Go

I am so scared..i feel like i don't know anything..three days to go and we don't have an actress..ayesha takia or priyanka chopra..paresh rawal or irfan khan..god knows..irfan is not available before he is done with a mighty heart..i hope raj kumar santoshi doesn't ditch us..will be great to have him act in the film..we have locked john abraham, ranveer shorey,aditya basu bhattacharya,joy fernandes..i hope i survive the much i want to go back to making completely independent films..i don't know whether we will be able to pull of the special effects..gulzar sahab has written two cigarette songs ,four more to go..have to get the rights to the old songs..wish black friday releases soon..more freedom..have promised rajkumar(my associate) if we pull this one off,i will get him laid..i have to go meet john..have to show him all the coen brother's films..especially big lebowski, barton fink and raising arizona..matthew robbins(sugarland express) says john has to be willing to play the fool..,"you need a jim carrey anurag to pull this off"..john is willing to go the whole hog..he is ready to be broken down..lets see.. have to meet the grip guy..have to get him to cut down on his price..or i will have to make do with what i have and will i do it..why can't we have other people to do the dirty job..who the fuck asked me to write this film..Oh Scorcese..give me strength..

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Thursday, October 12, 2006

Catcher In The Rye

Catcher in the Rye - Anurag Kashyap Speaks

By: Anurag Kashyap

Three films in seven years. Not one released. With the 1993 Bombay blasts judgement underway, will Black Friday finally hit the screens? In this searing piece, Anurag Kashyap describes the heartbreak of being angular in Bollywood

Unless a film is seen, one can't test one's intuition. I could be before my time in Bollywood, but I am convinced I'm not before my time in this country

January 27, 2005. That was the day fixed for the premiere of my film Black Friday. We had worked our way through the Censor Board and the tada court. They had asked us to remove the tag line: The True Story of the Bombay Blasts of 1993. We had complied. We had fought the case claiming prejudice filed by Majid Memon, and won a clearance. Everything seemed to be falling into place. And then, a day before the premier, they got a stay order. This was my third film in seven years; not one had had a release. I slipped into a severe depression.

I was first drawn to the Bombay blasts when I was urged by producer Arindam Mitra to read journalist Hussain Zaidi's book, Black Friday. It affected me deeply. Arindam wanted to make a TV series on the blasts, directed by Aditya Bhattacharya. But when I read the book, I convinced them it should be a film. Aditya backed out very graciously to make space for me.

From the start, it was a very difficult and bewildering project. There were so many strands, so many characters, so many motivations, it just would not fall into place. One day Arindam suggested, why don't you work backwards to where it all began? Suddenly, it clicked. We started the film at a point three days before the blasts — when one of the accused allegedly tipped the police off but no one believed him — and worked backwards to the Babri demolition. I had the script ready in a week.

Balance was always the main difficulty. The subject was so sensitive, the film was almost like a trial. It dealt with real people, real names. We were determined not to go the usual Bollywood route and fictionalise or tamper with the film's integrity.

We zeroed in on some central characters: Tiger Memon, Dawood Ibrahim, Rakesh Maira, the chief investigative officer, and Badshah Khan, one of the accused who became a police approver. (I wanted Irfaan Khan to play Badshah Khan and Naseeruddin Shah to play Tiger Memon. They both turned us down. We were making the film during the Gujarat riots and both actors were uncomfortable playing Muslim terrorists.) Many aspects of the case were not balanced in themselves, so the choice was, should we balance them for the sake of balance or should we be honest to the overall film? We opted for the latter. The film moves like a thriller, using the police investigation not just as the driving force but as the protagonist. But what does the film stand for? What does it say?

Life source: Kashyap with daughter
An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind. That is what my film Black Friday is really about. It was clearly a case where one community — not even a community but its self-appointed moral guardians — committed one set of acts, and the guardians of another community retaliated. Tiger Memon escaped. On the ground, some of the people who got caught were hardened criminals, but mostly they were people who were not in their right minds, young, scarred, vulnerable people who were brainwashed and abused. It was very difficult to arrive at this core yet remain faithful to the plot of the film.

The fate of Black Friday raises a lot of uncomfortable questions about us as a society. I feel I am a very responsible person. My film had a lot of integrity. Go out into the world — every country has political films which are not afraid to take names. But in India, we are not accustomed to that. What is the point of living in a democracy? Why can't we address issues directly? If people disagree, why can't we have a democratic debate? Why do we stop people from watching films? Why do we set ourselves up as moral guardians? Why should Ramadoss care about the smoking habits of my child?

My first film, Paanch, had run into trouble with the Censor Board in 2000. They felt it wasn't "healthy entertainment" because it dealt unapologetically with sex, drugs and misguided, alienated youth. It was constructed around the famous Joshi Abhyankar murder in Pune, but I had fed a lot of my own life and angst into it — my anger, my escape into drugs and alcohol. Jakkal, the murderer, was a brilliant university topper, but he was led into crime. I saw myself in him; I saw what I could have so easily become if I had not channelised my rage into writing. I saw that violence often has no justification. Not everything stems from emotional desire, or motivations like revenge. It is just irrational, impulsive, irreverent. And, for being that, more brutal. But our cinema is not allowed to reflect our realities. Once Paanch was cleared by the censors, it couldn't find a distributor: no songs, no stars, no foreign locales.

Paanch had trouble with the Censors. They felt it wasn't 'healthy entertainment' because it dealt unapologetically with sex, drugs and alienated youth
I have written many scripts for other directors: Satya, Kaun, Shool, Mixed Doubles, Water. But unless a film is seen, one cannot test one's intuition. I could be before my time in Bollywood, but I am convinced I am not before my time in this country. We had more than 200 private trial-screenings of Paanch — the audience response was fantastic. But no distributor would risk it. Bollywood is controlled by families that have grown up in trial rooms. They have no knowledge of the real world.

When Paanch failed to get a release in 2000, I went through a severe black phase again. I was drinking at 11 in the morning. My weight shot up from 72 kilos to 90. I packed my family off to Delhi, I burnt the mattresses, wrote on the walls. I would break down in the middle of the road at 2 and 3 in the morning. I got myself into terrible, embarrassing situations. Finally, after almost a year, I pulled myself out of it and wrote Gulaal. This was based on the song from Pyaasa — Yeh duniya agar mil bhi jaye toh kya hai. It was set in a kind of futuristic Rajasthan, where royals come together, and since everyone's demanding a separate state, they demand one too. Paanch was a darker version of Dil Chahta Hai, Gulaal perhaps was a darker version of Rang De Basanti. It couldn't get made. Nobody believed in a subject like that, and the ghost of Paanch still hung fresh over me. Another year passed. Then, in 2003, I tried to do Alvin Kalicharan, a black, mad amalgamation of everything that comprises a Hindi heartland childhood: Bal Bharati, Champak, Manohar Kahaniyan, Satya Katha. Six days before the film, insecure, confused, Anil Kapoor pulled out. It pushed me back under again. Then I met Arindam for Black Friday. We had Black Friday ready in May 2004. This time, I kept writing. I didn't want to sink into depression. But when a year later, it was blocked a day before the premiere, I caved in. I didn't come out of my room for days.

Stills from Black Friday
These years have forced a lot of introspection. I've not had a release in seven years. I often can't deal with that. Yet I survive because I've been trained for it. I've been training myself since I was five.

I grew up in Benares, part of a larger community of relatives and neighbours. My father was an officer in the state electricity board; my mother was a housewife. We often ate at a cousin and neighbour's home. I was five when an elder cousin and a neighbour began to abuse me sexually. It was more than molestation; it violated everything. I couldn't understand. I couldn't speak of it. I was always a very detached child. I went into a deeper shell; my behaviour became erratic. When I was eight, my father sent me to Scindia School in Gwalior. It was more than he could afford and I will always be grateful for that. But Scindia was hell for me. The sexual abuse continued there for years. I hated myself. I couldn't understand why it was happening to me. I was often picked out, beaten, then taken to the toilets. To save myself from the beatings, I'd give in to the abuse. Once I saw a senior abuse another junior. I spoke up about it. The repercussion was terrible. When I was in Class vii, I felt suicidal. That's when I began to write.

I wrote a story, I still remember, called Apekshit. I was the youngest in my class, the prodigal, but always very good at my work. But when my teacher read the story, he said, this can't be genuine. I looked up the word in the dictionary — the Hindi-speaking gunk in an elite English school — and that became my burden for life. I was thwarted at every turn. I excelled anyway. But every achievement became a joke.

I was filled with a black anger. I became numb. It was difficult for me to make friends. The worst of it is, when I was in Class xii, I tried to do the same to another junior. But I couldn't complete what I had begun. When I hit him, he started crying.

I became weak. I tried talking to my father. He couldn't deal with it. Years later, in Bombay, when I was 20, I told him again. We drank together then and cried.

Shall i inherit the world? Kashyap on the sets of Gulaal

Lage Raho Munnabhai makes me insanely jealous, but it also sets me thinking. There are lighter ways of doing the same things. Perhaps I am too intense, black
My turning point came in 1993. I had joined the Jan Natya Manch while in college. Those years were a haze of beer and pot and anger. Then Moloyshree Hashmi and Joy Sengupta urged me to catch a de Sica retrospective. That changed my life. Cinema became my cocoon. Two months later, I left for Bombay. It was raining. I had Rs 6,000 in my pocket. I spent eight months on the street, sleeping on beaches, hanging around outside Prithvi Theatre for work and a night out of the rain. My most permanent shelter those days was the space below the water tank in the Four Bungalows complex in Andheri. Then, I wrote a play and people began noticing me. People like Makarand Deshpande, Mahendra Joshi, Shivam Nair, Sudhir Mishra, Ram Gopal Varma and Amol Gupte infused hope and faith into my life. They were my mentors; my proof of generosity.

Just before I finished Paanch, I began to talk of my years of abuse to people around me. It released me from the fear and shame. It allowed people to share their experiences with me. Scindia was hell for me. To survive in that school was the biggest struggle of my life. But my childhood shaped everything, it made me who I am today. Gave me my worldview.

I am now shooting a new film called No Smoking – a funny, Kafkaesque thriller about a chain smoker who gets into a rehab programme to save his marriage. My influences are David Fincher, de Sica, Wong Kar Wai, Scorsese. It is not staple Bollywood, but I am hopeful. I see things changing. Films like Omkara, Rang De Basanti, Khosla Ka Ghosla, and Lage Raho Munnabhai are proof of that. A film like Lage Raho makes me insanely jealous, but it also sets me thinking. There are other lighter ways of doing the same things. Perhaps I am too intense, black. Too ridden by demons. Javed Akhtar says anger gives way to cynicism, then to humour. For me, that last transition still remains. We think we can change the world — we can't. But with humour, people understand more.

Now, when the blackness comes upon me, I take off to some part of the world, anywhere that I can lose myself till I find the willpower to return. My wife understands what I go through though it is painful for her. But it is my 6-year-old daughter who keeps me grounded and forces me to look at myself afresh.

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