Interview By: ANKITA R. KANABAR
If his films weren’t enough to guage that Anurag Kashyap is one crazy man, a conversation with him will erase doubts about that. He’s just as honest and quirky; not to mention funny. ‘Akira’ released last week, and apart from Sonakshi Sinha’s high-octane action, it’s his portrayal of Rane which is getting all the appreciation. Enter his office and you feel, it’s almost like you’ve entered the set of one of his films. Oh, one of the cabins has a red light. Clearly, even his office reflects the kind of cinema he is known for. Well, that’s Anurag Kashyap for you. Excerpts from the chat:
“My constant struggle is that, I want to reach out to people. I want people’s acceptance which I don’t get all the time”
You’ve acted before, but would it be right to say that ACP Rane from ‘Akira’ is your first full-fledged, serious part? What made you do it?
Murugadoss made me do it, and Shruti Mahajan, the casting director made me do it. I did it only because I met them and saw their conviction. I’ve never seen someone who really wanted me. Earlier, I’ve done small parts in films just for emotional reasons, because someone was a friend or nobody else was doing it, or just for fun. This was the first time someone seriously wanted me to act. I didn’t know how would I maintain the continuity for five months, because I’m not an actor, nor do I have the discipline of an actor. The thing is, doing it at a stretch and maintaining the continuity is difficult. But I was so comfortable on set. I had to work on the physicality. I had never thought in my life that I will have to do an action sequence. But it was fun.
What was the challenge for you?
For me, the challenge is to fit into it. You’re doing something on one note, others are doing something else. For example, Nandu Madhav, I’m such a big fan of his. I was the first one to cast him in ‘Shool’ where I was the casting director, and in ‘Akira’ I was acting with him. He was playing a police officer under me. So working with him, and then seeing Sonakshi’s level of commitment is unbelievable. I saw her rehearsing everyday. The kind of risks they were all taking. I mean, turning Sonakshi into an action hero, is a risk. I wouldn’t have that kind of guts. I take different kinds of risks, but mainstream mein rehke, mainstream se pangaa le rahe ho aur phir bhi mainstream de rahe ho. I stay in my zone and take panga with mainstream, which is okay. But this is amazing right?
Most actors who’ve worked with you say that just do not know what you’ll make them do on your set. You’re so spontaneous, instinctive as a film-maker. Are you the same even as an actor?
That’s how I am in life, as an actor I’m like that, as a writer I’m like that. That’s why I suffer also. It doesn’t always fall right. But when I’m an actor, I’ll be the way I want actors on my set. It’s very simple. I want my actors to believe me, trust me and go along with me. So when I’m an actor, the director has to be left behind in the vanity van. On set, I’m Murugadoss’ character Rane, I have to do what he does.
You’ve said earlier that it is unfair to compare your films to star-driven films, because they’re different. You have your own voice, and over the years how has that changed?
It has only become stronger and what has changed is, I’ve understood a lot about the business. For me, I have to start taking more responsibility. I also fight my way out. People are allowed to put walls around me, I accept various conditions like the film needs to be completed in these many days, so on and so forth. But what I’ll do within those days is up to me.
What is it about your films having quirky characters all the time?
(laughs) I love writing characters with some kind of keeda in them. I think that’s because of coming from Uttar Pradesh. Being from the streets there, I’ve caught the street lingo. I love playing around with words, I love creating words and characters.
But when you write these characters, some of them might be from your own personality maybe? Probably because you’ve seen a lot…
Sometimes (laughs). I think I am multiple personalities in my head. There’s this one revolutionary fighter type guy and then there’s another idiot inside. Then there’s this other experiences which I can pour out. I borrow from reality and everything around me, so I like to be real.
“My audience is always coming with an expectation. They want a familiar experience. They don’t want a new experience”
Is there a struggle to stick by your voice and find acceptance?
My constant struggle is that, I want to reach out to people. I want people’s acceptance which I don’t get all the time, so that leads to making a lot of films. Those who find that acceptance easily also get lost somewhere in the middle, and in my case, I think my last film will be the most successful. Till then I’ll keep making films (smiles). I keep learning from every film.
What is it that you learnt from your last film?
I learnt that when your film is releasing, then you shouldn’t take panga with the world for someone else’s film. People think that other film is yours, and people forget your actual film (laughs).
You said your constant struggle is to reach out to people, but there’s also a section of the audience which goes to watch a film because it’s your film?
I don’t know. The thing is, they also come with expectations. My audience is always coming with an expectation. They want a familiar experience. They don’t want a new experience. Some are coming from ‘Wasseypur’, some are coming from ‘Black Friday’, some are coming from ‘Dev D’ or ‘Ugly’. So they want a familiar experience but I want to do something completely transitional – some accept and some reject.
Do you also analyse your own films?
All the time, every film! I don’t see my films so much. I analyse everything. I try to see why certain things failed, what I could have done, and where I’ve made a mistake.
When expectations are low, things are good. When expectations are high, it is a problem. So, in that sense, with ‘Wasseypur’ ‘Ugly’ – ‘Ugly’ had the greatest experience.
What else is happening right now?
Lots of writing!
You love writing the most, don’t you?
Writing and editing. I enjoy writing so much that I don’t like anything else after that. I don’t want to come out of that zone. I just finished writing and nobody had seen me for one month. I finished three scripts in two months. I wasn’t back to reality, but the response that I got for ‘Akira’ pushed me back to reality.