On Gangs of Wasseypur and more: In Conversation with Anurag Kashyap

Anurag Kashyap was one of the more eagerly awaited speakers at the recently concluded Imaging Cinema 2012– A Screenwriting and Filmmaking course at IIT-Madras held from 1-10 June. The nearly 3 hour long session conducted by Anurag was like an open book for all the film enthusiasts and participants of the workshop who had a lot many questions to ask. In the process what followed was a wonderful way of understanding various elements related to Anurag Kashyap’s films and also that of  cinema in general. Here’s an excerpt from that wonderful discussion –

On the running length of Gangs of Wasseypur (GOW from here on) and the theatrical release in India

Well yes GOW does have a running length of more than 5 hours and given a choice I would have loved to release it here the same way. But then there are other considerations to be kept in mind and hence we have split the film into 2 parts of which Part 1 is releasing on 22nd June. We still have not decided about the exact release date for Part 2 but it might probably be out a month or so after the release of Part 1. This is my most expensive film so far and will be having a very extensive release as well.

How was GOW received at Cannes?

Well the response has been very good. Most people who saw the film seem to have liked the film and the film has managed to get sold in a lot of international markets, some of which really took me by surprise as well. And GOW 1 will also be releasing in 200 odd screens in France on the same day of its theatrical release in India. So in a way the presence of the film at Cannes has certainly been of help for the film.

On how the whole concept of distributing in International markets works and lessons from The Girl in Yellow Boots (TGYIB)

Well with TGYIB we knew that it wasn’t going to be an easy proposition. But I was quite keen on the fact that the movie should reach out to maximum audience, in maximum locations. So it was a calculated call that I took of actually giving away the film almost for free in a lot of countries and just asking them to screen the film. In the process we hardly made any money out of all of this but it certainly opened new roads for us. So when we came up with GOW we were prepared and we managed to get the film pre-sold with an impressive minimum guarantee as well almost all over Europe.

On Guerilla/Indie filmmaking

When you know that the chips are down and that you do not have certain luxuries but if you are still determined enough, there’s always a way out. And this is something that I always believed in and the people who work with me also follow the same thought. When we worked on TGYIB for example we had to necessarily shoot with hidden cameras as we couldn’t have managed it otherwise. In fact the trend for us started much earlier in case of Gulaal. If you remember there are various scenes in the film where the streets are brightly lit. Now since we were really shooting under a tight budget we definitely couldn’t afford all those lights. That was when my DOP Rajeev Ravi came up with the idea of shooting during Diwali since the streets then would certainly be brightly lit. Fortunately/unfortunately the film got delayed way too long and thus we went there year after year on Diwali to shoot.

What was the ‘ardhanarishwar’ doing in Gulaal?

Well originally there was no such character in the script. Later on Piyush Mishra came on board as Prithvi Bana & his character was that of a musically inclined person. Teddy Maurya (who played the receptionist at Hotel Decent in Jab We Met) was hanging around the sets and both his brothers had their respective responsibilities on the film. So one day Teddy just came over and asked me if he could be given some work as well. That was when I hit upon the thought of having him as just a companion along with Prithvi Bana and for his look and appearance I was reminded about ‘Bahrupiya’s who are commonly seen in most North Indian towns.

How is it that in spite of your regular association with Amit Trivedi you still manage to work with new composers (new to Hindi Cinema) like Prashant Pillai (Shaitan) or G.V.Prakash (GOW)?

Well one thing I must admit is that in my office there has always been a constant stream of visitors. And of late the stream of visitors has only increased. So be it actors, cinematographers, music composers etc, all of them drop in and discuss their work with me. So this way it’s interesting to note that I first met G.V.Prakash nearly 2 years ago and had signed him right away for 2 films, of which one is GOW (BGM) and the other will be my next film. I was excited to work with G.V.Prakash as I am aware of him from his Chikku Bukku Chikku Bukku Rayile’ days 🙂

You acted in Tigmanshu’s film Shagird and now he’s acted in your GOW. So how do you compare the acting of Anurag Kashyap with that of Tigmanshu Dhulia? Who’s better and why?

Oh! Undoubtedly I would rate Tigmanshu as the better actor among the two of us. He is in fact a very competent actor and I rate his performance in GOW almost on par with that of Kamal Haasan in Nayagan, yeah I really do feel he has great potential as an actor.

How do you go about writing your scripts, as in do you follow any specific techniques etc?

Well nothing really as such but it’s just that I still prefer to ‘write’ rather than ‘type’ which I find to be very difficult. So when I’m in the flow I just sit and write furiously the whole day. It’s only much later that my assistants sit down & type it in order and give it back to me to read and work on again.

You’ve written for so many other directors so far, so will you continue doing so?

Well earlier when I was just a writer alone and not a filmmaker it was a lot easier to do that. But now if I write a complete script for someone else then I will start visualizing the whole concept and then start wondering why I cannot make the film myself. Hence this is something that I would wish to avoid as far as I can and instead probably write the dialogues as that wouldn’t complicate things for me.

On the influence of Tamil Cinema

I personally feel that Tamil Cinema right now is going through a wonderful phase and I have been following the works of a lot of Tamil filmmakers. So I am thrilled to watch films like Subramaniapuram, Paruthiveeran, Naan Kadavul etc and it’s by watching these films that I realized that these filmmakers are making their films in a milieu that’s so much familiar to them. This made me feel that even I have lots of stories to tell which belong to the place I belong to. Watching Bala’s Naan Kadavul made me feel ashamed since I’ve lived in Varanasi myself but I see someone else who’s not from the city shoot wonderfully in a city more familiar to me. That’s why I have decided to personally dedicate GOW to the 3 musketeers – Ameer, Bala and Sasikumar, the sons of Madurai as I call them.

Gangs of Wasseypur is gearing up for release on 22nd June and we at MAM wish Anurag Kashyap and the entire team of GOW all the very best.


3 thoughts on “On Gangs of Wasseypur and more: In Conversation with Anurag Kashyap

  1. Good one! Nice to see that he is keeping an eye on Tamil cinema. Looking forward to GoW. Something tells me that it will be as visceral as Bandit Queen.  

  2. Sethu! Thanks for the interview. Anurag’s films are interesting and dynamic. Thanks for the interview. Look forward to seeing his film.

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