Anurag Kashyap has backed several content-driven, small budget films in his career. Here, he talks about working with A-listers, the new generation of actors in Bollywood, the failure of his TV show (that starred Amitabh Bachchan), and writing a story for a film with Shah Rukh Khan.Do you feel the market for offbeat cinema has grown?
There has been an increase in the number of people watching good cinema, but, we can’t take them for granted. They could have watched Gangs Of Wasseypur (2012), but they might not watch the next unconventional film.
What steps can be taken to foster the growth of content-based cinema?
First, stop making formula films that people have already started rejecting. This year, several big-budget films haven’t been entertained by the audience. Still, stars continue to dictate terms. People, as a result, are being forced to watch these films. If this continues, people will stop going to theatres. It (film-making) is a very unhealthy business right now. The youth wants new, good content.
You are collaborating with A-list actors like Ranbir Kapoor and Anushka Sharma for a film. Do you want to work with more stars now?
Yes, but not just for the sake of it. If I have an idea that requires a star, then I will approach one. For instance, I have a story idea for Shah Rukh. But I need to work on it; I will only approach him when I am ready with it. I loved working with Ranbir and would love to work with him again, but, I will never restrict myself to working only with stars.
The young, new bunch of actors seems keen on experimenting with their roles. What’s your take on that?
The young actors are far more real, believable and professional. Varun Dhawan, Arjun Kapoor and Alia Bhatt are all talented. Anushka is brilliant. Ranbir is going to redefine stardom. Your collaboration with Amitabh Bachchan for a TV show did not work. What went wrong?
Lots of things… Mr Bachchan’s fan base expected to see him on TV just the way he is seen in films… and we did not expect this. They wanted to see a larger-than-life character. I received so many abusive messages from his fans asking me how I could show him as this sick and dying man. Forget getting a successful run, the show did not even open well. It was upsetting.
Amitabh Bachchan in a still from Yudh.
What kind of box office expectations do you have from your next film?
I have a small audience that will go and watch it. The cost of the film is also small; it’s made been on a budget of `4.5 crore, and a good Friday opening would mean Rs 1.5 crore for us. Most of my films don’t get good openings, but they grow with word-of-mouth publicity. For this film too, I am depending on that.
This film will also have those anti-smoking disclaimers popping up on the big screen. You brought up this issue earlier too; do you plan on resolving it for the future?
I am against those disclaimers because they are not effective, and those anti-smoking clips are really irritating. We (film-makers) are planning to have a dialogue with the ministers. I feel that we can create an effective anti-smoking clip; we shall, then, ask the exhibitors to play that clip in the theatres.
On the personal front, do you plan on getting married again?
I will never get married again. I am in a very happy place now. When I was with Kalki (Koechlin; estranged wife), we only used to fight. I have realised now that I get too engaged with my work, and if you are that busy then you can’t afford to have a family.
Marriage is a promise, and you should make promises only when you know that you can stand by them.