Indian filmmaker Anurag Kashyap, renowned for his audacious storytelling in Indian cinema, is thrilled as his much-anticipated movie, 'Kennedy,' had been selected as the prestigious closing night film at the 14th Indian Film Festival of Melbourne 2023 (IFFM).
Delving into the movie 'Kennedy,' which has been directed by Anurag Kashyap, we encounter a neo-noir thriller that pledges to enthrall viewers with its one-of-a-kind storytelling.
We bring you interview highlights with the acclaimed director, Anurag Kashyap.
Q: What keeps you going? A: "I think when you have passion for something which is so strong that it can consume you then nothing else matters. For others, it might be a lot of hardship and hurdles, but for us, it's like part of life."
Q: Your latest film, 'Kennedy,' received a five-minute standing ovation at Cannes film festival. What went through your mind? A: "Nothing is very overwhelming, and you feel awkward, you don't know how to react, it's kind of unbelievable and overwhelming, and you don't really know how to respond to it. So, you can see it visually, nobody knows how to react when that happens; that's pretty unexpected."
Q: How do you keep the balance when some of your films do well and others don't? A: "No, I think it is a big learning that when I made that film, that what kind of cinema that you have and what kind of audience you have. My biggest learning was to keep my budget low; when your budget's low, you have more freedom and you can be more expressive and you can be on your best foot forward."
Q: You are a brand now? A: "All those things are organic. I never thought that even though I did not understand this something called a brand. I just wanted to make a film, and then I wanted to make another film, and I wanted to make another film, so the other things that are not organic are happening to me; everything else happened on its own. So, there's no plan, there's no idea, there's no ambition, there's no road map; it was just always about the next film. It was next."
Q: How do you get ideas for your stories? A: "When you have to tell a story, the idea comes to you. It comes out of situations you read, you see, you react, you respond. It's something that becomes a catalyst; it's almost like a chemical reaction. So, any catalyst can kind of trigger it, and then it forces you to go to the table and write it. And when you write it down, then you realize whether it can be a film or it can't be a film; it's important first to write it. Being a writer is very important, I think. Most filmmakers who also write their own scripts have a much clearer point of view."
Q: How do you polish your initial thought process? A: "Bouncing it off people, when you read your writing, you keep rewriting, keep rewriting, keep rewriting. It's a process that takes a lot of time to go from idea to the final script. Actually, writing is not a longer process; actually, writing might be two to three days of regular writing, but that two to three days comes many times over many years."
Q: From 'Gangs Of Wasseypur' to 'Kennedy,' how has your experience changed the way you do things now? A: "I don't know, but today we have become more careful and cautious about how we are expressing ourselves because I wouldn't be able to make a 'Gangs Of Wasseypur.' It's not possible because people have become overly sensitive; everybody gets offended at anything, so the times are difficult to navigate through."
Q: Were Rahul Bhat and Sunny Leone the star cast of 'Kennedy' your best choice? A: "I work with actors who really want to work with me and really want to work on the film, and the script resonates with them, and they also totally surrender to it. So, my casting is always based on that. They might not be very big stars; that's whom I work with."
Q: Why don't you take big stars for your projects? A: "It's very difficult; I did that with Bombay Velvet, but the problem is big stars have their fan following, and fans have expectations from them, and my film is not catered to their expectations, so it's both bad for the star and for me. So, I try to avoid the big stars now."
Q: How late is late to be a filmmaker? A: "Nothing is too late; some of the greatest filmmakers started after the age of 60 years. All one needs to get started is the right script, that's all."
Q: How do you find Melbourne? A: "I've been to Melbourne a few times now and only during the film festivals. I love it also just because every time I come here it's winters compared to the summers back home in India, and then the food and the coffee; it's amazing here."
Anurag Kashyap's 'Kennedy' was a highlight at this year's IFFM, closing the festival with a bang. The film's remarkable journey from Cannes to Melbourne promises an intriguing cinematic experience for all.
By Tonee Sethi