After the uncertainties and hiccups he faced both in his personal life and career in the early years, Anurag Kashyap has sealed his reputation as one of the most fearless filmmakers of our time. His more personal approach to filmmaking, as evident in both the parts of Gangs of Wasseypur as in his earlier films, has made him the darling of the intelligentsia. Yet, Kashyap himself never takes any of the monikers invented for him seriously. “I still make and support the kind of cinema that I started off with. I have not wavered in my belief,” he says, a day before Gangs of Wasseypur II opened to widespread critical acclaim. Here, he talks about inspirations, interests and why he doesn’t fancy making films with established stars:
Were you thinking of 'Satya' or 'The Godfather' when you decided to make Gangs of Wasseypur?
None of them, in fact. I was simply attracted by this bunch of gangsters who had the total IQ level of less than 50. They have weapons in their hands, so they feel powerful. They fire recklessly without any plotting and planning. They are not ambitious at all. Their ambition is limited to being the boss of the area they live in. Their sense of heroism comes from each other and this heroism is meant only for the community and not for the outside world. They don’t have a worldview — it was funny to me, that this stupid bunch of gangsters doesn’t have a worldview and don’t want to have either. This was the starting point, actually.
As in your other films, there are no stars in 'Gangs of Wasseypur' as well. What prevents you from working with stars?
If you have stars in your film, you have to shoot in studios. I am comfortable shooting on the streets. Even when I am shooting on the road, I don’t like to manipulate things. I don’t paint over a wall. I let it be the way it is. I will never add unnecessary properties to enhance it. Normally, I shoot a scene without the actors knowing where the camera is—from a vantage point where things look natural and organic. My schooling has come from always having less money than I needed.
Do you find it difficult to raise money even today?
Now it’s easy but earlier, I had difficulty in convincing people that my ideas are safe. It’s ironical that the perception people had of me only changed in the last two years—when I produced Udaan and Shaitan—at a time when I had actually not done anything concrete.
How do you deal with expectations?
The most difficult thing to fight is expectations. I have this image now and I am shackled by it. I am constantly fighting it off and it basically means fighting one’s own people.
Although your films explore crime and violence, what are the other themes that are important to you as a filmmaker?
Searching, finding, looking and state of mind. But I try and make different films and deal with different ideas each time. The only two similar films I think I made were Dev.D and Gulaal. There was a continuation there. They come from the same space. They explore the journey of individuals, a journey that takes them through self-destruction and self-realisation.
How do you rate your brother Abhinav (director of Dabangg) as a filmmaker?
He is incredible at his work but I don’t want to say too much on him because then I would be accused of nepotism. He has only made one film so far. As for Dabangg, it has definitely been a big game-changer; it Indianised mainstream. That way Abhinav has been more influential than me.
Finally, where does Kalki stand as an actor?
She is an intelligent actor but for her, discomfort is the language. She has mastered Hindi quite a bit. The day she starts thinking in Hindi, she will shoot up. There is certainly potential in her — and I am not saying this as a husband. Trust me, she is extraordinary.