Anurag Kashyap opens up on his stock full of ‘dad jokes, sick jokes’

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Mumbai, June 18 (IANS) One might envision the Indian auteur Anurag Kashyap as a heavily guarded and serious individual, who is immersed in books and his signature library of DVDs all day long, with no hint of a smile on his face. While his cinema might partly contribute to this perception, the truth is far from it.

The filmmaker has a knack for humour, boasting a repertoire of “dad jokes and sick jokes”.

Anurag, in a conversation with IANS, said that he finds humour in the mundane.

He said: “I have a stock full of dad jokes, sick jokes and inappropriate (laughs). Humour is something that you have to find out which genre works for you, you can be good at clean comedy, slapstick comedy, or dark jokes. It’s on you to identify what you are good at and then keep practising it with your timing, your delivery, and the pauses. I find humour in everyday things, and I use it the way I like in my films.”

Throughout his career, Anurag has made the films he wanted to make, steering clear of the conventional norms of the Hindi film industry. He stands as one of the most successful independent filmmakers in the country today.

However, such success comes at a cost. Not every creation resonates with the audience immediately. Sometimes, a film gains recognition long after its theatrical release, labelled as a cinematic masterpiece or ‘a film ahead of its time,’ a phrase that Anurag refuses to acknowledge.

Anurag told IANS: “For me, every film has a different reason to be made. It’s very easy for someone to say that, ‘You made a film which was ahead of its time.’ But, I made that film when it came to my mind. I’m not running ahead of time; perhaps the audience could be trailing behind. When you see films from France, Germany, Siberia, and Iran, you realise how far behind we are compared to them in terms of quality content.”

The director feels that Hindi cinema is largely still stuck in formulas. “Bahar log kamaal ki picturein bana rahe hain (People outside India are creating exceptional cinema),” he added.

But then, he corrected himself and came up with an even stronger example, that of the Malayalam film industry.

Anurag told IANS: “The problem of chasing trends is major with Hindi cinema, I feel. Look at the Kerala film industry, they are really doing some great work. Let me tell you an irony. I saw ‘Manjummel Boys’, and wrote on Letterboxd (an online social cataloguing service for films) that nobody would have put their money on ‘Manjummel Boys’ in the Hindi film industry, but, if it gets a good response, people will do its remake.”

And guess what? It happened exactly as he had prophesied.

“The film was released, and after two days, I got a message from a producer asking if I knew the guys behind ‘Manjummel Boys’ because he wanted to remake the film in Hindi,” he said.

Anurag told IANS: “If S. S. Rajamouli was a Hindi director, he would have never been able to make the kind of films he is known for. Having said that, I will say that I’m the most privileged indie filmmaker in the country because I get to make the films that I want. Other filmmakers sadly don’t get that chance to put their voices out there.”

He also pointed to the market being dictated by trends because of the hugely disproportionate screen count in India to its 1.4 billion population (the biggest in the world).

His upcoming streaming series ‘Bad Cop’, which is set to premiere on June 21 on Disney+ Hotstar, sees him in the role of an antagonist.

When asked if the genre of crime intrigues him as an actor as well, he said: “My life started with Fyodor Dostoevsky’s ‘Crime and Punishment’ at an age which was my most impressionable age. I have forever been in this world.”

“I read a lot of noir and crime fiction. There’s a certain intrigue about crime stories in the sense of what makes a person criminal and what pushes them to commit a crime,” he added.



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