Anurag Kashyap is a man who needs no introduction. So let’s cut to the chase with the auteur who is back with Raman Raghav 2.0 this time.
Ques: With Raman Raghav 2.0, aren’t you are back in the dark space that you enjoy directing?
Anurag: I enjoy making crime films. In my career, I have only done things that I enjoy doing. So in people’s heads may be I am back in that space but I never really left it.
Ques: Why do you enjoy making crime films?
Anurag: I am fascinated by crime as a genre. I love making films on them. Hitchcock loved making suspense based films. I love making crime films. I love studying and making characters that don’t fit into the expected society. I love exploring the dark side of human nature.
Ques: But do you think masses belonging to the expected society will lap up your dark films?
Anurag: I think I have a ready audience and most of them are not the Friday, Saturday or Sunday audience. They are working people and they watch the film eventually. I also believe that because my audience is not the Friday audience, I get budget constraints. And because I get budget constraints, I work backwards. So I don’t have a problem with that. I am not looking forward to the thought that my film will break all box-office records. If I knew it would happen, I would be making those kinds of films.
Ques: So you don’t make films with box-office success in mind?
Anurag: What’s the definition of box-office? The expense incurred on a particular film should be earned back. If the expense on the film is 3.5 crore and if I am making a film like Raman Raghav, I know it will translate well but I would want to make it in the lowest cost possible. After my last experience (Bombay Velvet), I don’t think I will handle a big budget film anymore. At least for sometime.
Ques: Talking about Bombay Velvet, you were targeted from all quarters after it flopped. It looked like there was a propaganda, a witch-hunt of sorts…
Anurag: (cuts in) Yes, I felt attacked but I can’t waste my time thinking about it. I don’t know what happened. For me, it is a very simple thing when I get trolled, I block people. I block my trolls.
Ques: So you don’t like being criticised or trolled?
Anurag: Criticism and trolls are different things. Trolls are people who are just trying to poke you. Those I block. Criticism is healthy because it benefits me and I take it well. Criticism that is unhealthy, I block it. Anything that works towards my growth, I take it. Healthy criticism is from people who desire your good. Critics are not there to pull you down. People who attack you personally are not critics. I don’t think much about them. I am a survivor. I have survived seven years of ban, seen more professional and personal failures in my life than most people and nothing affects me anymore. I keep doing what I want to do.
Ques: And despite all these, you end up attracting a lot of controversy?
Anurag: In this country, people can’t deal with straight talk. I talk straight. I am not someone who looks for controversy or creates controversy. I haven’t employed a PR who tries to create controversy around me. When I have something to say, I say it on Twitter. I try not to say much these days though.
Ques: Have you mellowed down now?
Anurag: No. I still feel strongly about things but I don’t think the world needs to know about it. Today everybody has an opinion. In a sea of opinions, your opinion doesn’t matter. There is no point. I want to live my life. My focus is on my work, my family. I am 43 now. I have seen a lot in life. My entire focus is my own happiness now. I have become very selfish.
Ques: Moving on, you have always said you will work with a star when you need one. But what will you do when an actor you made famous becomes a big star eventually and falls out of your reach because his star power commands a fat price?
Anurag: Now that depends. Everybody is a master of their own journey, If I have made a film with someone and that someone goes on to become a big star then that someone has every right to decide his or her own price. If I reach out them and they don’t fit into my budget, I will find someone else. I have done this all my life.
Ques: But when an Irrfan Khan says Kangana Ranaut is out of reach, does that mean she is also out of the reach of Phantom films which gave her Queen?
Anurag: Kangana’s market has become big. Expectations from her have become big. As a person, she is the same. For me, she is the same friend she was five years ago. My interaction with her has not changed one bit. So when somebody says she has gone out of reach, they are talking financially. I believe if Kangana really likes a script, price wouldn’t be a criteria. She is a reasonable person. People were not running after her when she started Queen. People are running after her now after she tasted success. If she is asking for money, one might as well pay her. If Irrfan is saying Kangana has gone out of reach then he too has gone out of reach for many people. It’s all relative.
Ques: So you will never want any actor to do you a favour?
Anurag: I will never pull a favour. It also ultimately depends on the person. Like with Nawaz, he never discusses money with me. He understands my situation and the budget of the film. With us, money never comes into the equation. Some actors sit and say, ‘I want more money than what you are offering.’ And if my budget cannot afford them, I let them go without holding any grudges. Every actor decides his or her own worth.
Ques: You have been a supporter of good regional cinema. You were recently seen lauding Dulquer Salmaan’s work in Kammatipaadam. What do you think of him as an actor?
Anurag: He is outstanding. I think there is much more realism in actors from regional cinema. I find their performances believable.
Ques: Is it because they are untouched by the star culture that exists in Bollywood?
Anurag: That’s the case, I guess. Even stars like Mohanlal and Mammootty are so real and believable. They have lived their life like that and they like to be real.
Ques: Finally, tell us how would you describe your journey till date?
Anurag: It’s been a satisfying roller coaster ride. It’s an exhilarating feeling when you are on a roller coaster. I wouldn’t like to change anything about my journey.
Ques: No regrets?
Anurag: None. I am too thankful for the life I have had and I wouldn’t want it any other way. I get to do what I want to do. I am my own boss. I am the boss of my own time except when I have to do interviews (smiles). But jokes apart, I have had a good time. 23 years and I am still here(smiles again).