Posted by Sid
April 11th, 2007
Anurag Kashyap definitely needs no introduction. The man behind Black Friday and a hoard of other films is undoubtedly the most known and credited scriptwriter in the industry today. Despite being a busy director, he still finds out time to write films and is exploring new avenues as a screenwriter by writing the narration for the Hindi version of the Oscar winning documentary film ‘March of the Penguins‘.
IndiaFM had a tête-à-tête with him where he spoke about his experiences on this film and his other projects as well.
While writing the narration for ‘Penguins: A Love Story’, have you just translated the French version in Hindi or added a lot of your own to the narration?
There is a lot more that has been added. The French version has been used as the basis at large. The sound track and everything is from the French version and not the American one. The American version doesn’t use the original sound. The narration was written because it was to be voiced by Mr Amitabh Bachchan. Keeping that in mind it was completely approached like that. It has a lot of details of the penguins. The narration is not very detached like the American version which has Morgan Freeman’s voice. It is more like documentation, it’s more personal. Mr Bachchan’s voice is more intimate and more personal. His voice is not used in the way that it is normally used. It reaches out to you. It’s more off a spoken language, broken down.
The narration by Amitabh Bachchan is not very detached like the American version which has Morgan Freeman’s voice.
Even for Water, you were credited in the titles as ‘Hindi translator of dialogues’. So was your role in this film similar as that of Water?
I wrote the dialogues for Water. It was one of my earliest films and I got credited this way. I guess I was a fool then. In this film my role wasn’t similar. I wrote the narration for this film. In a documentary there is only a narration. So all you can do for a documentary film is write the narration. All the information was already provided and the film was already shot. So it was far more easier to do this. The only difficulty was to find the spoken quality and a voice which is suitable.
The film is released in India with Amitabh Bachchan’s voiceover in Hindi and English languages. Have you written the script for both the Indian versions (Hindi and English)?
I wrote the script for the Hindi version. The English version was an adaptation of the Hindi version. And both the Tamil and Telugu versions were adaptation of the Hindi version.
In fact the English narration by Amitabh Bachchan for the Indian version is preferred by the French producers over the English narration by Morgan Freeman in the American version. Even for the DVD of the film, Amitabh Bachchan’s voiceover has been selected over Morgan Freeman’s for the English language. The French producers endorse this version over the American one.
Amitabh Bachchan makes anything sound incredible. It gives you a feeling that you are a good writer.
Since you might have obviously seen the film, how did you like it?
I loved it. I am not yet objective about the film but very subjective about it. Half the time I was in love with hearing Mr Bachchan speaking my lines.
So you think Mr Bachchan has done justice to your script?
He makes anything sound incredible. It gives you a feeling that you are a good writer.
The best producers for your work are those who respect your copyright and respect your work.
Would you like to write for an Indian documentary, if given a chance?
It depends on the subject. Documentary is not something that I would want to do as in looking out for a subject. If I come across a subject that moves me I will definitely do it.
Since you and Amitabh Bachchan are the only two people involved in the Indian version of this Oscar nominated film, does it feel great?
It has won the Oscars even before we were involved. However, it’s a great feeling to be a part of a film which has won so many accolades. The good part is that the French producers respect the copywriters. Like you took the example of Water, the amount of work I put in, how I wrote all the dialogues and hell of a lot of things were re-written. But I was credited as translator of Hindi dialogues because I didn’t sign a contract. They could not have managed to do that with Fire or Earth because they had senior writers. While doing Water I was only one film old with Satya. The best producers for your work are those who respect your copyright and respect your work. Water was a terrible experience, which reminds me I also did a film called ‘The Goal‘ where I hardly collaborated a day or two and my name is officially credited as a consultant. But you realize when it comes to India, Indians are the cheapest people the world over. They don’t like to give credit to people for their work. And I saw that a lot in Water with Deepa Mehta. A.R. Rehman is also unhappy with Deepa Mehta by the way he is credited in the film. It’s the fellow Indians who treat Indians like shit.
After writing avant-garde scripts, do you think you went the conventional way by writing dialogues for masala films like Shakalaka Boom Boom?
Shakalaka Boom Boom is the pits of my career. I got involved with the film and wrote for the film. But half of the things I wrote aren’t even there. For me the biggest lesson I learnt from it was that never ignore the instinct. My first instincts were not to do the film. I told myself that when I do something like that I will charge a lot of money. The money promised to me never came my way. There were various other people in the film that I counted on and depended on and in the end got the most flak for it and I can’t get away from it because I have done it. All I can do is apologize to the audience and to myself and make sure that next time I do it I get paid Rs 50 lakhs for it.
Shakalaka Boom Boom is the pits of my career. My first instincts were not to do the film. But I ignored my instincts
You are also writing dialogues for the sequel of Hanuman. Is it any different, writing dialogues for an animated film?
No. The film is animated after you have written the script. I am just doing the dialogues. There are other people also involved. There is Amit who has worked with me on the script. There is VG Samant who has created the character. There is Abhilash and Upendra from Percept who are animation film directors. So there are a lot of people involved to make that one animation film happen. In the end I might get the most credit for it but it also involves a lot of other people as well.
Does the film have 2D or 3D film animation?
Both, its 2d and 3d. Its very high quality work
Is it a mythological episode like the prequel or contemporary?
It’s more contemporary. Hanuman in the modern world.
What do you think is the future of animated films in India?
I think the future of animation films is just like any other films in India. Animation is the future. Lots of films are being made on animation. It’s not only about Mandrake or Phantom. Cinema is changing, the world is changing. Everything is changing. At a time of globalization, anything that is good will work in the world.
Finally what is the status of for directorial venture No Smoking?
The shooting is over. We are looking for the release somewhere in August or September. I cannot decide because I first want to ready the film