Director Anurag Basu, who was in Chandigarh on Monday for the promotion a Punjabi movie, spoke about the connection between Bengali and Punjabi cinema and how he prefers to not play the role of a mentor, among other things.
“The initial few Punjabi movies were first made in Kolkata, so there’s an old connection between the two states in terms of cinema,” says Basu, adding, “I also used to watch Punjabi movies back in the day, but not anymore, as Bollywood has pretty much obliterated anything else in its path; Doordarshan used to show regional movies, but now it’s become hard to source a regional movie if you’re not in the state itself.”
Basu also says that keeping emotions aside, his greed for reaching a wider audience has propelled him to make Hindi films instead of Bengali. “A Hindi film will reach out to a wider audience and I want that,” says he, while maintaining that regional cinema has boomed, as politics has regionalised the country. “Nationalism is dying in my opinion.”
Known for making movies that tackle the themes of passion and adultery, the director claims that filmmakers tend to make a movie on what they are going through in their personal lives. “But, I would like to add I am happily married now with two kids,” he laughs.
He also mentions the immense pressure that he was under to deliver a hit after his critically acclaimed film Barfi!, which starred Priyanka Chopra and Ranbir Kapoor. “I couldn’t write for months after the movie came out, I was just drawing a blank; people had such high expectations of me and I was under a lot of pressure,” he confesses.
After Barfi!, the director is seen playing the role of a producer as opposed to directing, the reason he states is that he has a lot of stories that need to be told. “If I direct, I come out with one movie in two years, and that is not enough for me.
So, I produce, so that all the stories I have get told. I give my stories to other directors and tell them if they’re interested in telling it, they can,” says he.
Basu will be donning the director’s hat again though for upcoming movie Jagga Jasoos, starring Ranbir Kapoor and Katrina Kaif, which is slated to release later this year.
With over 15 of his assistant directors having gone on to make their own films, Basu believes that mentoring is too strong a word to use for him. “I am more of a guide, like a torch lighting your way; being a filmmaker is either there inside you or it isn’t and it’s not something that can be taught.
When a person has that spark and honesty in them, you can see it,” he concludes.