After a long wait, film-maker Anurag Kashyap’s film Paanch will finally release in January. The film was, in fact, Kashyap’s first as a director. “Paanch will release in January,” says producer Tutu Sharma, admitting that censor problems had caused the delay.
“But, my writer-director, Anurag Kashyap was determined not to succumb to any pressure for a censor certificate. No matter how long it took or what effort it entailed, we were determined not to change a single frame. And eventually, with a more reasonable board, the battle was won. It will release without a single cut.”
Long story short
In September 1993, Kashyap, during his stay at the St Xavier’s boys hostel, used to hang out with the members of a band called Greek. Observing them closely, Kashyap filled 40 pages of a notebook that formed the basis of a script for a film he initially titled Mirage, and later replaced with a more Indianised version, Paanch.
Kashyap then drew inspiration from another film, and also came across files relating to the Joshi-Abhyankar murders that rocked Pune in 1976.
“Five ordinary college kids viciously murdered nine people. I got what I needed to finish my script,” he said.
Censor problems in 1995, he was ready to flag off his directorial debut. But it was only in 1999 that the film went on the floors with Kay Kay Menon, Aditya Shrivastava, Joy Fernandes, Vijay Maurya and Tejaswimi Kolhapure, who form the five-member band that goes haywire.
In 2003, it was lining up for release when the censor board refused to give it a certificate on six counts, saying that it glorifies violence, shows excessive use of drugs; has no positive characters, and does not carry a social message.
Even the revising committee turned it down and the film was eventually viewed online, where it got rave reviews. Even the industry reacted to it positively with, director Sudhir Mishra having seen it 24 times and Zoya Akhtar saying that she couldn’t wait to see it again.
As Sharma readies for a theatrical release in January, he says that the almost decade-long delay has not affected the film’s prospects. “Paanch was always well ahead of its time,” he says.