I am still not as self-indulgent as I would like to be: Anurag

I am still not as self-indulgent as I would like to be: Anurag Shivangi Singh & Tanu Talwar

Call him self indulgent or a narcissist, but Anurag Kashyap has emerged as one of the leading directors when it comes to experimental cinema. The taskmaster, who established an immediate rapport with the youth with his modern age portrayal of Devdas in ‘Dev D’, is on an all-time high and has some of Bollywood’s leading stars vying to work with him. Talking to media persons during the ongoing Osian’s film Festival, the director gave an insight into his blockbuster ‘Dev D’, filmmaking techniques and upcoming projects.

Q: You are touted as the country’s leading new age director. From where do you derive the inspiration?

Anurag: It’s not from any single source. Random things, happenings influence me. But mostly it’s films and cinema that influences me most. To tell you frankly, it would have been great if I had a job that required me to travel across the world to watch films. World cinema mesmerizes me. There are so many films that have left their mark on me in some way or the other. For me, it’s the attention to detail and intricate facts that hold a lot of importance.

Q. After ‘Dev D’, what’s keeping you busy these days?

Anurag: Besides watching movies, I am currently directing a couple of movies. One is with Kalki in the main lead and it’s a thriller. Then there is one on Guru Dutt’s life. I am also planning several other projects.

Q: You have often been accused of being self-indulgent.

Anurag: Trust me, I am still not as self-indulgent as I would like to be. For me, as a filmmaker, the only view that matters is mine. But I think that I am a very compromising director. I do keep in mind the audience’s tastes. However, if I feel very strongly about something, I will not change it just to fit in.

Q: How did ‘Dev D’ happen?

Anurag: Right after I saw the first ‘Devdas’, I wanted to make my own version of it. I did not want to make a typical ‘Devdas’. I wanted to make its contemporary version. I wanted my character to represent today’s youth. I read the novel when I was 16 and really did not like it. I felt that there was too much of pity and sympathy created for Devdas. And in my opinion, Devdas deserved no pity. So, when Abhay came up to me to make a modern day version of the novel, I forbade him and the entire cast and crew from reading the book.

Q. Since Abhay had come up with the idea of a modern-day Devdas, did you two have creative differences?

Anurag: No. Not at all! He had a few suggestions every now and then, which we worked on. But overall, we both were on the same level when it came to presenting Devdas. We wanted to show a man who is ruthless, treats women badly and is left feeling horrible at the end of it. We in no way did have any intention of making, like they say, a ‘Devdas’ of him.

Q. And how was it working with Abhay Deol?

Anurag: I had met Abhay through Vikram Aditya Motwane, who was also the co-director of ‘Dev D’. And to tell you the truth, initially, I had very little faith in Abhay and it wasn’t for his acting skills but the fact that he was so much better in other things. He is an exceptional cartoonist; so I was like why would this guy want to be an actor? I meant that he could be so many other things. But I was wrong. I don’t think anyone could have done Dev’s role better than Abhay did. And today most of the industry’s top-notch directors agree with me. Abhay has grown exceptionally as an actor. He kept picking up new directors and unusual scripts and turned them into blockbusters.

Q. Your song ‘Emosional Atyachar’ won rave reviews. How did it happen?

Anurag: When I was making the film I wanted a different song. I did not want the usual music track for the film. So I started looking for someone who had been rejected from everywhere. And that’s when I met Amit Trivedi through Shilpa Rao, the singer. I was shooting ‘No Smoking’ at the time. I told him what I wanted to do with ‘Dev D’ and gave him a situation. Eight months later when I met him he had not one but seven songs ready for me. All of them are in the film. He became the reason why ‘Dev D’ is a musical.

Q: Do you ever fear taking risks and experimenting?

Anurag: No. I feel that a filmmaker should be true to his vision only then will he be able to do justice to his work. Audience should know you for your films. I think today every filmmaker is free to represent his perspective.

Q: ‘No Smoking’ has been bashed by one and all. Why did you make a film like ‘No Smoking’ that had no clear message?

Anurag: (Laughs) I made ‘No Smoking’ because I was very upset and angry. Had I made the movie today, it would have been a lot different. It became a personal film and I did not realise when that happened.

Q. How do you think you have grown as a director?

Anurag: The biggest change in me is that now I look at the other point of view. I have started listening in the sense that now I don’t rule out other people’s opinions. Even if I will go ahead and do things my way, now at least I listen to suggestions that others make.