KATHMANDU, May 13: Anurag Basu is one of most sought after directors of the present day Indian film industry.
Although having started out with television directing a television opera Tara, Basu has now achieved multiple nominations for his direction in films like Life in a Metro and Gangster.
He has been awarded with the Filmfare, Star Screen and International Indian Film Academy Award for Best Screenplay for Life in a Metro. Currently busy with his soon to be released film ‘Barfee’ starring Priyanka Chopra and Ranbir Kapoor, Basu is in the capital for the second time.
“The first one was a casual visit,” he smiles, adding “this is a formal one.” Basu is here this time around to participate in the Indo-Nepal Youth Conference organized by the Embassy of India in Kathmandu.
Basu is a panelist for one of the talks titled ‘The Changing trends in Cinema’ which will be moderated by our very own Rajesh Hamal.
Republica had the opportunity to share a brief moment with the director. Excerpts:
Most of your films deal with infidelity and hidden desires. What is your fascination with forbidden love?
I know, (smiles) but this notion will change with Barfee and nobody will ask me this question again. Actually my three films did deal with betrayal. I don’t know why I wrote those stories but I did. It might be because I came from a small town and witnessed such stories all over Bombay. Barfee will change all of that, this time I didn’t want an Adult certificate for my film. I want kids to go and see my film and have a good time.
You are said to have used the Guerrilla filmmaking technique in your upcoming movie, tell us how it will impact the whole South Asian film making culture?
This is not a new technique and I have been using it since my television days. Back in those days, all I had during my shoot was my camera and my actors. Every time I did this I got raw images and I loved those. While working at Life in a metro, I shot at a real railway station with a real crowd and I am happy to have done that.
For me it’s crazy if you have to build the whole set in the main market because with all the people and their curiosity it can get really bad and I don’t have so much patience. For me then just hiding the camera and shooting the real happenings is great.
Bollywood, the Indian film industry, as a whole is driven by stardom. Your films, however, have managed to stay away from that. In recent times, however, there seems to be a change in the trend. You had Hritik Roshan in your last film and now it’s big names like Ranbir Kapoor and Priyanka Chopra?
No nothing has changed. It’s not that I’ll only work with big stars now. As a matter of fact my next film is with small actors. There are some stories that require a huge budget. Barfee was just like that. It’s sad but new actors won’t ensure box office collections and after all the film has to run. My next film, however, is going to be a small one without any big stars.
India has a lot of regional films being made but the Hindi films seem to have taken over and with their ever expanding market it comes as a threat to our Nepali film industry. In such competition how can a film maker create his niche?
The regional film industry is still surviving. Bengali films are doing well as a matter of fact. The actors in South earn more compared to mainstream Bollywood actors. Now the reason they survive is because they don’t ape Bollywood. This is the exactly what new Nepali filmmakers should learn. They should think out of the box and not copy India or Bollywood for that matter.
Also, I think there is this fear of the local box office collection not being good, but this is the exact emotion the upcoming makers’ need to fight. The young ones need to realize that there is a huge international market. We have all these festivals where you can meet distributors and producers. I always say think big, think you are making a film for the Oscars. Here is an idea, why not have film shows in Bombay and have all the Nepali people come and see it? This could be a new market.
Tell us a little about the Nepali actor Bhola Raj Sapkota in Barfee and how was it working with Prashant Rasayili? And have you seen Acharya?
Bhola is the best thing that happend to Barfee. As a person he is really sweet and very dedicated too. Talking about Prashant, it was he who suggested me Bhola. I first met him through a reality show I was judging. He was a participant there. Prashant is very creative, he has a bright future and yes I have seen Acharya and I like the film and also its music.
The internet has a lot of information about you, but tell us what is it that made Anurag Basu rise in the industry?
Oh there is a lot of information that is not true. In fact, one day when I have the time I am going to sit down and edit the wiki article. Tumsa nahi dekha and Kuch to hai are not my films.Personally I have a struggle story but then everyone does.
My journey has been one with a lot of ups and downs. During my initial days it was not only tough for me but for my parents too, and even more so since I come from a small town. My parents had to face a lot of criticism for encouraging me towards Bollywood. Then when I reached the industry I got scared. Trust me the industry is not as glamorous.
Not many people know that I had to start as a crowd dancer. It was tough but I knew I had to get into the film set anyhow and therefore I danced. Later I worked as a makeup assistant and then as an assistant cameraman. I was lucky that after seven months I got my directorial debut. I thought everything was going well especially after my second film became a huge hit.
I got married then and all was fine but then I was diagnosed with cancer. People stopped offering me projects and it’s not their fault. I joined television again and I am back with films. All in all one has to be positive.