I’d planned to become a scientist but chose writing instead: Anurag Kashyap
Filmmaker Anurag Kashyap and writer-actor Zeishan Quadri share their candid tales of struggle and success, to infuse energy in Delhi’s youth brigade, and advice them to be go-getters in life.bollywood Updated: Oct 25, 2016 08:01 IST
It was an inspiring evening for the young guns of Delhi as they listened to filmmaker Anurag Kashyap doling out advise and snippets from his struggling days at the recent Josh Talks Leap 2016 at Thyagaraj Stadium. Kashyap said, “Before graduating from a top college in Delhi, I was planning to be a scientist. Options zyada hote hi nahi the tab, ya to scientist ban jao ya UPSC clear karlo. (There weren’t many options then. One could either become a scientist or clear the UPSC). But I decided to go to Bombay (Mumbai), and all I had was a bag full of books and clothes, though I knew no one in the city.”
Students were rapt as Kashyap recounted his early days in the industry when he used to do odd jobs before he finally managed to claim fame with the film Satya (1998). He said, “I started working with Prithvi Theatre in Bombay, and would sweep the stage. I got to know that people volunteered to do all kinds of work, and I too started writing. It was my biggest skill and I could write 100 pages in a day then, today I can’t. But those days, I wrote for free and didn’t ask for either money or credit. Satellite TV had just come in and they didn’t know how to create content for daily soaps. From Shanti to Swabhimaan, I was part of everything but you wouldn’t see my name. Then finally someone gave me credit for an entire film. It was Satya.”
It was evident that the crowd enjoyed every minute as the auditorium erupted in applause. “Every choice has a consequence. I have made choices and faced consequences — be it making Bombay Velvet or putting out a tweet,” referring to the recent incident when he put up a screenshot of his conversation with a journalist on his Twitter account and received quite a bit of flak.
Kashyap was joined by fellow industry insider, Zeishan Quadri (both associated with the film Gangs of Wasseypur). Zeishan, too, caught the fancy of students when he revealed that his beginnings were quite modest. “I started working in a call centre in Delhi, which was the easiest way to earn money in those days,” said the writer-actor, referring to his years after school.
“Growth aapki tab hoti hai jab aap question puchne se ghabrate nahi ho... Hum log sochte hain mazak udega isliye sawaal nahi karte. (You can only grow when you don’t shy away from asking questions. People think they will be mocked at if they ask.) Mai kabhi nahi ghabrata and that’s how I got to learn everything about cinema — by asking questions,” Quadri said.
He clearly connected to the his listeners when he shared that his father persuaded him to pursue an MBA, when, in fact, he wanted to establish himself in Bollywood. He said, “My father wanted me to do MBA and kept repeating each time I called up home that I’m being fooled by people in Bombay and that I should go back to studies. After several attempts, when Wasseypur released and was selected in Cannes, I phoned papa and said ‘Papa soch raha hun MBA kar loon’. My father replied, ‘Beta jahan baithe ho wahin baithe raho. Sahi chal rahe ho’ (Stay where you are. You are on the right path).”
Another hit of the evening was the man said to be the inspiration behind Aamir Khan’s character, Phunsuk Wangdu, in the film 3 Idiots (2009) — Sonam Wangchuk. He, however, refutes this connection with the film, and says, “I’m tired of answering the question of whether the character of Aamir Khan in 3 Idiots was based on me.”
Wangchuk, who is from Ladakh and is known for his innovative ideas in education, says, “I am Sonam and not Phunsukh Wangdu. I met Aamir Khan at an event in Mumbai and I’m a big fan of his film Taare Zameen Par. I suggested that he make a film on the issue of a small land in Siachen which exhausts Rs. 5-7 crores of public money every year. I asked him if it’s possible to start a public revolution if the film shows that the dispute between two countries can be solved through public talks.”
Wangchuk didn’t pursue the topic further but soon after 3 Idiots was released, he was flooded with mails from people asking about his connection with the film. “At the event where I met Aamir, he did a documentary on my work. But I can’t say that that’s what inspired him. After the film’s release, I didn’t write to him immediately because I was afraid that he might think that I’m writing to ask for money. I waited for two years and then wrote to him, but haven’t received a reply yet,” he said, adding “I leave it you to decide if the film’s character was based on me!”