Rebel Without A Pause Anurag Kashyap
MySpace.com | rss | sign in | sign out
Oct 13, 2006
Email to a Friend
Signup Date: 10/12/06
My Blog Groups
Browse Blog Groups
Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles
[ Older Newer ]
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 fraternity..am drunk out of my mind..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 it..no 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 sake..in the sixties..now 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 money..so..we have stopped making films..now we make haldiram's mixture..one 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 shitless..no 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 today..am happy..does anyone believe in contradictions..my 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 initially..so 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 clapboard..my people warned me to keep my calm..i started ranting about how can we ever shoot on streets if people won't let us..black 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 ..somehow..next 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 NASCAR..am 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 again..my actress is delayed by three days..my 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 nightmares..it had to be strategically placed..so we converted the terrace into the glass bathroom.you can see the entire city when the man is in there..now where was i..my troubles..never ending..we planned according to her dates..why is it that actresses do two much together..is 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 story..am 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 kicked..you 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 kidneystone..how 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 safari..now 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 ..it 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 other..it 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't..so 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 confused..to 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 sitcom..like they did it in natural born killers..complete with the laugh tracks..it 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 reference..so 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 sequences..now i am wary of doing it in a pool..noone here can make that big a water tank..glass can't hold that much force of water..how the fuck do they do it in hollywood..help me with your innumerable options barring jenna jameson oz..(i like teagan by the way)..
DAY -1..we shot on the streets on diwali night..camera rigged on..lights reflecting on the windscreens and john driving like a nut on crowded streets..it almost looked like he will run some one over..what control..and what a great looking vehicle he got yesterday..one day..hmmmmmmmmmmmm
DAY -2..we shot the russian news reader..stripping and reading news ..it 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 right..no 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 wires..am 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 lighting..it 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..my house doubled up as abbas's house..fuck man..how 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 tub..joy 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 lot..no body had the balls to ask the producer..no body had the courage to tell me..all they kept saying was "aa rahi hai sir"..wasted wasted fucking day..by 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 meeting..today..cancelled 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 uncut..world trade center on the same day..oliver stone and scorcese on the same day..cancelling shoot on third..
10:11 AM - 0 Comments - 0 Kudos - Add Comment
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 bustle..how 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 possibilities..it 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 shoot..is 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 court..no 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 too..now paresh rawal or irrfan or naseer or big b..two more possibilities..no clarity..need to lock by mid next month..why is every one so busy..how 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 Nicholson..eh 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..
9:16 AM - 0 Comments - 0 Kudos - Add Comment
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 CHAUDHARY..my 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 short..it 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 ..it felt complete..it 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 morally..one 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 confidence..in myself..in 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 misery..my motherfucking jinxxx continued..life 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 JOHN..like an oppurtunist of circumstances i called him..it 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 story..so 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 listen..my 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 argue..it 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 again..so 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 john..WHOOOO..it was happening..now 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 ABRAHAM..today we saw BARTON FINK together..and he is going to rock..and the grip is on too..now..whoever 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 guys..now only if Scorcese could smile on me..
6:34 PM - 0 Comments - 0 Kudos - Add Comment
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:
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.
2:28 PM - 1 Comments - 0 Kudos - Add Comment
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 mainstream..how 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 innovate..how 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..
10:02 AM - 2 Comments - 2 Kudos - Add Comment
Thursday, October 12, 2006
Catcher In The Rye
Catcher in the Rye - Anurag Kashyap Speaks
CATCHER IN THE RYE
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.
5:28 PM - 0 Comments - 2 Kudos - Add Comment