American filmmaker Martin Scorsese needs no introduction. In his 50-year career, Scorsese’s films have won a total of 20 Academy Awards across various categories, including the Best Director award in 2007 for The Departed.
At 74, Scorsese has had a close relationship with the Indian film industry as well. Filmmaker Anurag Kashyap had sent two of his films, Gangs of Wasseypur and DevD, to the Hollywood filmmaker. Scorsese later sent Kashyap a letter praising the films. Speaking to HT City in an exclusive interview, Scorsese says, “He (Anurag Kashyap) sent me a couple of his films, the ones that you mentioned, and I loved them. I told him the same. I remember sending him a letter as well after it. I met him at a film festival a couple of years ago, which was great.”
It’s not only Kashyap’s films that Scorsese remembers fondly. The Raging Bull director has long been a big fan of two Indian legends: filmmaker Satyajit Ray, and dancer Uday Shankar for his classic Kalpana (1948).
“I’m totally in awe of the movie Kalpana. It’s a genuine dance film. In other words, a film which is not just about dance, but there is dance in movement, composition and energy,” Scorsese says. “I‘m also a big fan of Satyajit Ray’s body of work. The few interactions I had with Ray are memories I treasure.”
He (Anurag Kashyap) sent me a couple of his films, the ones that you mentioned , and I loved them. I told him the same. I remember sending him a letter as well after it
Scorsese’s latest directorial venture Silence saw him working with Japanese actors — the filmmaker elaborates on Hollywood working with actors from different countries. It’s a great trend, he feels, and he himself would love to work with more foreign actors.
“It’s good that our industry is tapping great talent across the globe. It’s progress. It’s good for the industry, which thrives on talented performances. In Silence, I worked with Japanese actors. They are remarkable. Meeting them, working with them is a revelation. Their range, the depth of their talents is astonishing. It’s good that barriers are being broken. Good time to be alive,” says Scorsese.
As Silence is released across the world, we speak to him about the film, his half-a-century-long career and his take on US President Donald Trump. Excerpts from the interview:
Silence took you more than 20 years to make. What took so long?
I have been planning to make the film for almost three decades. I was given the book (by the Japanese novelist Shusaku Endo) in 1988 and I began reading it in 1989. And ultimately, I decided that I wanted to adapt this into a movie. A part of my whole process with this movie has been that I really couldn’t make it back then. I didn’t know how to make it.
“Trump is a hatchet-wielding gang leader. I’m stunned and anxious at the same time. There’s a great deal of anger, and till the time there’s no mass revolt, the agitation will multiply.”
How different is Silence from your other major films, such as Raging Bull or Taxi Driver?
I had just made The Last Temptation of Christ, and I knew I couldn’t approach this film that way. It needed to have its own style. I had to let it grow in me and think about it without thinking about it, meaning contemplation and meditation. So, it is different in that aspect from my other movies. My search for faith has never really ended from when I became aware that there was such a thing as faith and started to look at how it’s acted out in your daily life. It’s in Mean Streets and it’s in Taxi Driver and it’s in Raging Bull.
In the age of sequels and prequels, none of your films have got a sequel. Do you despise the concept of sequels?
I was asked once about a sequel for Raging Bull. But I just couldn’t relate to it or think or know how it would look like. I don’t think I could revisit the material; my film said what it had to then. So, you get the drift.
You have directed two documentaries on two musicians so far — George Harrison and Bob Dylan. Is there any other (legendary) musician on whom you intend to make a documentary?
Not yet. However, I wanted to make a biopic on Frank Sinatra and it breaks my heart that I cannot make it.
Hollywood has been quite vocal in its distaste of Donald Trump. What’s your take on him?
Trump is a hatchet-wielding gang leader. I’m stunned and anxious at the same time. There’s a great deal of anger, and till the time there’s no mass revolt, the agitation will multiply. I’m worried about double-think or triple-think, which makes you believe you have the freedom, but they can make it very difficult to get the picture shown, to get it made, ruin reputations. It has happened before.