New York Indian Film Festival 2012

Anurag Kashyap: The Godfather of Wasseypur

Gangs of Wasseypur is a revenge saga by Anurag Kashyap set in rural India
'Gangs of Wasseypur' directed by Anurag Kashyap

Anurag Kashyap: “I’m a Thief. I borrow from people’s lives”

On closing night of the New York Indian Film Festival, it was a packed house at Skirball Center for the Performing Arts. The audience was transported quite literally to the wild, wild world of Wasseypur where human blood gushes like water,  gunshots ring out as freely as birdsong, and no one is burdened with a conscience or a moral compass.

Anurag Kashyap, who received a standing ovation at Cannes’ Directors Fortnight for  his 5-hour plus epic ‘Gangs of Wasseypur’, enthralled the New York audiences with a first look at this juggernaut of revenge and rival godfathers set in rural India.

As the Hollywood Reporter noted, “Kashyap, whose reputation as a screenwriter and controversial director reach a culmination in this film, is the real behind-the-scenes godfather, never losing control over the story-telling or hundreds of actors, and allowing tongue-in-cheek diversions in the second half that confirm his command over the sprawling material.”

Indeed, the film was three years in the making, comes in two parts, totaling a massive 5 hours 20 minutes and has 25 songs. The NY audience got to see only the first half but hungrily clamored for more.

Once Upon a Time in Wasseypur ….

A scene from 'Gangs of Wasseypur' by Anurag Kashyap
A scene from 'Gangs of Wasseypur' by Anurag Kashyap

Anurag Kashyap: “I become emotionally naked with my actors”

Q: Wasseypur is very real and there is not one false note, be it in the music, the lingo or the inhabitants. How do you get such authentic performances?

I’ve had a very strong theater background and I’ve found a lot of actors through theater. I do theater workshops with my actors where we open up and where I become emotionally naked with my actors, whether it’s about my marriage which didn’t work, my flings, about the world  and they start opening up.

In that workshop everyone talks about themselves. Scenes come out of that, out of their own lives. I can write them and put them together very well but I cannot imagine all those scenes. I’m not that big a genius. I’m a thief – I borrow from people’s lives.

Q: What was the most memorable part of the screening of ‘The Gangs of Wasseypur’  at Cannes?

The people just liked the movie so much – they stayed there for 5 hours 20 minutes, enjoying and sitting  for the entire movie. It was a full house. The biggest fear had been that it’s too long so when that didn’t come true then everything is fine and that’s what I guess was amazing.

Q: Do you think things are changing for Indian films in the international market? Earlier the length and the songs were regarded as negatives. Here you have 14 songs in just the first half!

Music is a very universal thing – everyone loves music. The problem with Bollywood  has been that actors suddenly start singing and dancing. We’ve used songs in the background and that’s probably more relatable. I was making a film for the Indian market and was not thinking of Cannes. I think all that happened by chance!

Q: What do you hope audiences will take away from Wasseypur?

I just hope they enjoy the experience and the film stays with them. That’s all, nothing more. I  would just want them to enjoy the movie.

Q: Does the violence and bloodshed ever come into your dreams – you must be immersed in it!

No, not at all – I sleep very well after my shoots!

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New York Indian Film Festival
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