‘I’ve always been an experimental film-maker’: Anurag Kashyap

Latha Srinivasan | Updated on June 26, 2020

We are family: Kashyap’s main characters in Choked: Paisa Bolta Hai are migrants seeking to build a life in Mumbai   -  IMAGE COURTESY NETFLIX INDIA

Anurag Kashyap on his new film, expectations and critical viewers

* Expectations can be a killer because, when you are dealing with a subject such as demonetisation, says Anurag Kashyap in an interview to BLink about his film Choked: Paisa bolta hai

Film-maker Anurag Kashyap’s tryst with video streaming platforms started in 2018 with Lust Stories and Sacred Games. His latest directorial venture Choked: Paisa Bolta Hai, starring Saiyami Kher and Roshan Mathew, was released on Netflix recently. Written by Nihit Bhave, Choked, which also deals with demonetisation, gets us up close and personal with a lower middle class couple, Sarita (Kher) and Sushant Pillai (Mathew), and their struggle for a better life. Sarita is a singer who has lost her voice, Sushant is a penniless musician. “I was in love with the script,” says Kashyap, the maker of groundbreaking films such as Dev.D and Gangs of Wasseypur, from his Mumbai home. Locked in by Covid-19, he keeps himself busy cooking, working out and watching films. Excerpts from a chat with BLink :

Film-maker Anurag Kashyap   -  Netflix India


How did you end up making Choked?

I was in love with the script and it was a year-long struggle to put it together. The work starts with the script and then getting the right cast. Saiyami came on board in 2017 and Roshan in 2018. Then we reached out to Netflix and, a year later (2019), we started shooting the film.

Choked has got mixed reviews from critics and viewers. Some people felt demonetisation should have been central to the plot...

I made exactly the film that I wanted to make. When you watch the film the first time, you don’t see the film for what it is. Expectations can be a killer because, when you are dealing with a subject such as demonetisation, everybody has their own expectations, and especially when it comes to my film. People should see the film a second time, when most of the expectations have already died down, and realise the film is not so much about demonetisation and is not a suspense thriller. Then they will see the film for what it is rather than what it should have been. It is okay to like or not like a film, but I never understand when people talk about what a film should have or not have been. I don’t pay much attention to that kind of criticism, but a lot of healthy criticism comes my way, too. Nothing is perfect; none of my films has ever got a perfect review. There’s always somebody who will dislike it.

What made you think of an inter-cultural couple?

It came from the script. I wanted the characters to be migrants. It was based on talent hunt shows. A lot of people are migrating to the cities to participate in these shows. The whole idea was to get a Konkani girl and a South Indian boy, perhaps from Bengaluru. So there was a whole thought process that they would come from Bengaluru to Mumbai and how they would have met in Bengaluru. We initially thought of Raghu Dixit, because he was a musician and didn’t have to act like one. But after casting Saiyami, we cast Roshan, based on the age factor.

The film is also about the relationship between this couple...

That’s what the film is about — it is not about anything else but the relationship. I think people relate to it because we all have aspirations but sometimes a marriage or a relationship goes into a coma. We don’t know what is wrong but we don’t really talk... I’m happy people are talking about the relationship because that’s essentially what the script is all about.

How has Choked been a departure from your previous films? Are you on an experimental mode now?

I’ve always been an experimental film-maker — it’s just that you don’t know what finds success and what doesn’t. People define me more than I define what I want to be and need to be. I do things that excite me and are new to me and I’ll continue to be the same way.

What is the difference between making a film for an over-the-top (OTT) platform and for the silver screen?

I don’t see much of a difference barring one — cinema is a community experience. Some films you watch in a community and because everybody reacts together — to a joke, for instance — it’s real fun. But some things are more intimate and personal. My approach and process with regard to my films to both mediums, however, are the same.

Do you think OTT platforms allow directors to be more creative?

On OTT platforms, you can tell a long-form story and you don’t have constraints that you have in cinema, such as an interval break. The advantage on OTT is that you can view it at your own time and you are relaxed. There are disadvantages also. In cinemas, you finish the film but on an OTT you might not end up watching an entire film. Creatively, making a film for both is the same but for OTT platforms, you have to think much more as to how to say things symbolically and make it current.

What are you working on in the OTT space?

My next is as an actor in AK vs AK, directed by Vikramaditya Motwane.

Latha Srinivasan is a Chennai-based journalist

Published on June 26, 2020

Follow us on Telegram, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Linkedin. You can also download our Android App or IOS App.

This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor