September 8, 2009 1:08:59 pm
It was Italian director Vittorio de Sica’s neorealist ‘Bicycle Thieves’ that made Anurag Kashyap realise that cinema was his true calling and now the Indian writer-filmmaker is in Sica’s country as a jury member of the Venice Film Festival.
Kashyap,who is the only Indian on the six member international jury at the ongoing festival considers it strangely coincidental that he should be in De Sica land as a juror.
The filmmaker,who has directed movies like ‘Black Friday’,’Dev D’ and ‘Gulal’ wanted to be a scientist,but a chance visit to the 1993 International Film Festival of India,where he saw ‘Bicycle Thieves’ changed his perspective about life. He knew that cinema was what he wanted to be in. Kashayp said that with just about five thousand rupees in his pocket,he reached Mumbai in 1993 only to spend several months on the streets,sleeping in the beaches,sometimes under water tanks.
Many failures later,which included ‘no’ for acting and aborted plays,he met Ram Gopal Varma who took a fancy for the young man and asked him to script ‘Satya’. This led to more writing: Kashyap penned dialogues for Mani Ratnam’s ‘Yuva’ and Deepa Mehta’s Oscar-nominated ‘Water among others before turning to film making.
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However,it was ‘Black Friday’ that put him in the spotlight. Based on the 1993 Mumbai serial bombings,the remained in the cans for two years,because the Censor Board would not certify it.
When it finally opened in 2004,it was rapturously applauded,and British helmer Danny Boyle was inspired to base a chase scene in ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ on one in ‘Black Friday’.
Now at Venice,where two of his movies,’Dev D’ and ‘Gulaal’ are screening out of competition,he says that Devdas has always been applicable to the average Indian male.
“Story of the eternal loser has inspired generations and has some significance and relevance even today. The entire premise of Devdas was based on miscommunication and this is the age of communication.
“If Devdas were to exist today,what he would he be like,how would he look at love,what would love mean to him,who would be today’s Paro,who would be Chandramukhi and where would she come from. These were the questions that plagued me and Dev D emerged out of the struggle to answer these questions,” he said.
Talking about ‘Gulal’,Kashyap says that there were some biographical elements in it.
“I was involved in student politics,but my role in it was limited to that of a campaigner. I was a victim of ragging and I knew victims of brutal ragging. Such things happen all over India,and not just in Rajasthan,where Gulaal is set. Rajasthan was just a metaphor for whole of India,” he added.
Kashyap says that he does cameo appearances in his films only when he cannot find a fitting person to do justice to the role and they are not inspired by Hitchcock or Ghai.
“I do cameos only after I have run out of my crew members making appearances in them. My movies are low cost and we can’t afford many actors,and so I use everyone from spot-boys to drivers to my camera operators as actors. In the end when we have run out of people,I come on. So people feel I am copying Hitchcock or Subhash Ghai. This is not true,” he said.
However,Kashyap has been influenced by other helmers such as Wong Kar-wai.
“Yes he has influenced me. Also my cameraman,Rajeev Ravi,loves Wim Wenders,and we do a lot of source lighting,we shoot in magic hours,” he added.
Kashyap,who has never been to Venice before,is now busy producing ‘Udaan’ directed by Vikramaditya Motwane,and is also writing ‘Bombay Velvet’,a 1960s thriller.
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