Men, power, guns and roses: The common ingredients of an average Anurag Kashyap film are changing as the filmmaker is slowly moving towards mounting movies where women drive his narrative and men are on the periphery.
Since 2018, Anurag’s films, both shorts and features, have sincerely followed women as they make their way through messy relationships (Lust Stories, Manmarziyaan), fight paranoia and curses (Ghost Stories) and, amusingly, use cash which keep leaking from their kitchen sink (Choked).
“I think I get along with women more than men,” Anurag tells indianexpress.com in an interview. The filmmaker, who has presented a diverse range of men — from a lovesick alcoholic (Abhay Deol in DevD), trigger-happy gangsters (Manoj Bajpyaee, Nawazuddin Siddiqui in Gangs of Wasseypur), a street fighter (Ranbir Kapoor in Bombay Velvet) to a boxer who fights against the system (Vineet Kumar Singh in Mukkabaaz) — says male actors come with a baggage of insecurities.
“Women are easier to work with and simpler to deal with. Male insecurity is so much more. I find it easier to work with a Taapsee Pannu, Saiyami Kher or Amruta Subhash. I get a lot of trust from them! I can’t work if I don’t get trust. When male actors are new, they give you all the trust but slowly the insecurity hits them. I have seen a lot of people change, with success and failure. Taapsee has stayed the same,” he says.
Anurag first collaborated with Taapsee Pannu for the 2018 romantic drama Manmarziyaan, a first for the filmmaker in that genre. The duo now reunite for their latest Dobaaraa with something they have never dabbled in before: a science-fiction mystery drama.
The filmmaker recalls that the first time he met the actor was at an airport, many years ago. “We had breakfast at the lounge and I found her so well behaved. She was soft spoken and our meeting was extremely pleasant. The next time I met her for Mannmazrziya, she barged into the room and yelled, ‘I have read the story and I am not like this in real life’. So the entire impression went down,” Anurag jokes.
But the filmmaker says, one of the reasons he loves teaming up with Taapsee is because she, unlike very few, bring out the best in him. Taapsee’s relentless questions about his narrative choices and her hunger to learn more, Anurag says, keeps him on his toes.
“She pushes me a lot. I get away with a lot of things sometimes, I can get very lazy. But she does not let me be lazy because she herself is not. While we were shooting Dobaaraa, she would wake up at 5 am, practice cricket for Shabaash Mithu for two hours and then shoot 12 hours for Dobaara. She questions you, which irritates you a lot. She keeps needling till she gets an answer. So somehow I become a better version of myself,” he says.
Produced by Ekta Kapoor and written by Nihit Bharve, Dobaaraa is the official remake of the 2018 Spanish film Mirage. The film is Anurag’s first theatrical release since the pandemic, which saw his Choked release on Netflix. The filmmaker is aware that his last directorial had received mixed response and jokes a review read, “Is it even an Anurag Kashyap film?”
“But, I go out and make what I want to make. For me, there is no greater joy than that. I feel I have so much freedom given to me to make films with whoever I want to make, the way I want to. So all failures are mine and the success belongs to everybody,” he adds. Dobaara will release on August 19.