Anurag Kashyap says he was in the web space even before OTT: ‘They were downloading my films illegally’

Anurag Kashyap says that even before OTT platforms launched in India, he was a part of the web space. “My audience was always downloading my films illegally and watching them,” he says.
Director Anurag Kashyap at the screening of the upcoming Netflix film Ghost Stories.(IANS)
Director Anurag Kashyap at the screening of the upcoming Netflix film Ghost Stories.(IANS)
Updated on Jan 29, 2020 04:37 PM IST
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Hindustan Times | ByMonika Rawal Kukreja

With the kind of cinematic sensibilities he possesses — dark, deep and deranged — it doesn’t take much for him to stand out from his contemporaries. Take, for instance, his films Black Friday (2007), Dev D (2009), Gulaal (2009), Gangs of Wasseypur (2012), Raman Raghav 2.0 (2016) — filmmaker Anurag Kashyap has always explored a world that’s not too easy to fit in. Even in the recent horror anthology Ghost Stories, Anurag’s film was the most layered with multiple interpretations.

In a candid conversation, the filmmaker talks about experimenting with the genre, collaborating with fellow filmmakers, the future of the web, and if it can coexist with theatres.

You’ve made some really dark movies. So in what sense was Ghost Stories a different experience?

Ghost Stories gave me an opportunity to make horror that I always wanted to make. It was hard for me to tell anyone how I look at horror, because the kind of horror that I really like are [films such as] The Witch (2015), Hereditary (2018), the more psychological ones. They’re not really boo-kind of horror. I really love the genre now and after this anthology, I have a reference point that this is how I want to approach things.

Would you direct a horror comedy anytime soon?

It always depends. I respond to subject matter. If I get a great subject, I’d definitely do it.

Do you feel restricted when you’re teaming up with three different filmmakers? Is it tough to reach a consensus?

It’s not tough. I actually don’t think of it and look at it very differently in this sense. They’re very generous, there’s no pressure… nobody says that I have to adapt to what the other person feels or think should be done. All of us (Zoya Akhtar, Dibakar Banerjee, Karan Johar) are very different from each other. We’re just ourselves and that reflects in our stories, too.

What’s the future of anthology films?

This is ongoing, continuous, and consistent. This will always happen. This is something we look forward to. It’s like an annual holiday you take. Now that Ghost Stories is out on Netflix, we’ll soon meet and decide the next subject. The excitement is so much to come together and do this.

With a spurt of OTT platforms, do you feel that web and theatre can coexist?

They will, conveniently, because you’re talking to a whole new generation. For me, even before OTT platforms were launched, I was always in the web space. My audience was always downloading my films illegally and watching them (laughs). A few years ago, Gangs of Wasseypur was picked up and serialised in the US as a six-part series. That was my first connect with the web.

So, are you saying your films do better online than in cinemas?

I was always told that people watch my films. But then at the box office, why do we just about break even? Why don’t we make humongous profits? Even films like Dev D – they’re quite a hit, but financially, they just cross the budget and the investments, but don’t become like other massive blockbusters. That’s when I realised that I have an audience but it’s very working, educated audience that doesn’t line up on Fridays outside cinema. They want to watch movies at their own convenience, probably on holidays, weekends or late nights. So, OTT platforms have made my work available to them at their convenience. I still remember, after The Girl in Yellow Boots’ (2010) release on the web... the number of mails and messages I got on this film, I didn’t get them on its original release. And it’s not like just twice the number or thrice the number; I am talking about 10 times the number. So, with that kind of visibility and accessibility, suddenly my films got life back.

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