Anurag Basu is one of the few prolific Bollywood film makers of current times. Anurag directed blockbuster movies Murder, Gangster, Life in a Metro, each with an elusive concept. Anurag is currently filming KITES in New Mexico and Nevada, US. It was a pleasure meeting him here in Santa Fe, New Mexico quite a few times both on-sets and offsets. As a person Anurag is a Soft spoken, compassionate, very friendly and funny. My personal association with him changed my perspective of a great film director. After a long days shoot, I joined Anurag for dinner where he accepted to give an interview to www.thetera.com .
Reddy Ganta (left), Anurag Basu (Right). The author is a Film Studies student at Santa Fe Community College, New Mexico
About you, childhood and influence of your parents on you. When did you first decide to become a film maker?
My dad influenced me a lot. I began my career with theatre. I was directing plays since 17 years. I used to write and act in plays too. Every director has to be an actor after all! I basically enjoy art form. From theatre I moved to TV ad then to film industry. I became a director at the age of 21.
Are you a student of film school?
How did you get a break in the film industry?
Started off with theatres then moved into TV industry and then got a break in bollywood.
International directors that influenced you
Actually many directors influenced me like Scott brothers
Indian directors and films that influenced you.
Recently not any one in particular. It does not mean that I have a loathing towards other Indian directors. In fact I like a lot of Indian directors. Bottom line.. every director attempts to tell his story in a unique way but how sincere is the attempt ? That’s the key to success.
Tell us about KITES
Kites is an astounding unique concept which has never been tried before in bollywood.
Really ..? What’s so unique about Kites?
Kites is a language independent entertainer. People of any part of the globe speaking any language can easily understand the film and relate to it with out knowledge of Hindi or English in which the film is being shot. With the world turning into a global village, I wanted to target global audience not just Indian audience. I was successful in entertaining Indian audience through my previous movies so why not global audience? Let’s see how far I can succeed in my attempt.
Wow… the concept of language independent film is incredible and seems inconceivable. How do you achieve language independency in a film?
To make a long story short …minimal dialogues.. lot of action and visualization.
It should be very challenging for actors especially for Hritik…
Yes.. It is.. and I am amazed at Hritik’s meticulous adherence to acting and personal appearance in this movie.
How is it like working with Hritik?
Hritik is a brilliant and hard working actor. He puts his best effort in every scene. Hritik and I think in similar lines on a lot of conceptualities in movie making. He is innovative and open to novel approaches in film making
Tell us about Barbara
Barabara is a very beautiful and talented actress and is very involved in the project. She does not speak Hindi nor do we speak the many languages spoken in this movie like Philippines, Hindi, English etc. etc. That’s the fun in this movie. Different languages are spoken but you understand the scene just by the visualization. Of course we provide subtitles, but I bet you don’t need them even if you do not know Hindi at all.
How is Kites coming so far?
Frankly speaking I don’t know.. as I said before it is a never been tried before concept and I am nervous. You guys should see the movie and tell me the outcome. We tried to capture Mexico without going to Mexico and shooting in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
How is shooting in the US?
It is a difficult country to shoot.. rules are tough for people from outside countries
Will Kites be released internationally?
Kites will be released all over the world in English and Hindi
Do you prefer directing offbeat films or would you also move to commercial/mass-action films in future?
I don’t see a striking difference between offbeat and commercial films. I strongly believe in Entertainment and that’s what all my films are about. I always make sure my films earn money in the box office.
What’s your dream project?
Every film I do is my dream project
What’s your aim as a filmmaker?
To have my own branding as a filmmaker
What is your opinion on the current status of film industry?
Very vibrant and remarkably better than it used to be few years ago. Let me tell you this.. This is the golden era of film making.
Tell us about your future plans.
Producing and directing with UTV
Roles and responsibilities of a film maker in the society
The way I see it ..”Films never changed society; films are reflections of society!”
Your take on new trend of films cropping up in Bollywood.. Would you like to work on experimental films?
In good olden days, films used to depend solely on the box office which forced formula movies. But the Bollywood’s marketing scenario changed magnanimously during recent times. Thanks to DVD rights, satellite rights, big audio market; production companies are taking the plunge to investing in new trend films and experimental films.
I love to make experimental films
What were your challenges in your blockbuster project LIFE IN A METRO?
Writing and making Life in a Metro were two big challenges for me. The challenge being – four different instances in unison need to create melody and not noise.. that’s how life is right? Several incidents happen to everybody in day to day life and all these incidents in unison need to make you happy and that’s what everybody strives for… this is the thought process I had while writing Life in a Metro. While making this film I tried my best to depict reality in a natural flow without worrying about traditional filmi rules…
By the way Life in a Metro is a five crore budget film and I am contended at the phenomenal success and laurel it brought in. “It’s all about doing it right; by the rules or by breaking rules.” I was elated by the public’s acceptance of this movie.
Do you like to follow standard filmi rules while writing your screenplays and making movies?
I never like to follow rules of film making outlaid in books or taught in film schools. I LOVE TO BREAK RULES IN FILM MAKING. Let me tell you what I mean by breaking rules …Pretty much all movie screenplays have clearly defined plots (with protagonist) and subplots (with non-protagonist). But if you watch Life in a Metro or read its screenplay, you will find that main plots and subplots are not distinguished at all because the screenplay does not distinguish a protagonist (hero) or antagonist (villan). Who is the hero in Life in a Metro? Think about it…
I would say there are no rules in film making as long you are successful in entertaining audience.
Gangster is a sincerely made movie for one type of audience. I think all movies made sincerely will connect to the audience and thats how gangster became a block buster. I never push for making hit films or safe films…. I preach… “Safe is the most unsafe word in film making and Don’t push for hit films.”
Do you think it is hard to find producers for new aspirants?
It is very tough to find producers willing to invest crores of money on a novice. But if you are successful in finding one, you need to make sure producers will produce the film passionately.
Your advice to new film aspirants
Getting on the set is the best thing. Film making can not be taught. You have to unlearn what you learn in film schools. However if you are new to film industry it is good to get some formal education…
Skills required for a director
50% people skills, 50% art ethic, sense of drama and emotion. Make actors to trust the director.
Tell us about how you got your projects produced..
I narrated Life in a Metro for 15 minutes and the producer signed up. With Gangster I had to do a two and half-hours narration before the producer signed up. So that you know I write my own screenplays and this is my personal opinion… I think it is tough to make movies from screenplays written by other people.
What are some aspects that you pay attention to when you plan your projects?
I plan my budget and make movies in such a way that producers make some profit out of my films. Budgeting is a very crucial task of a director.
Who fixes price for movies?
Producers fix the price for distributors. . Now a days distribution is not totally dependent on ticket sales…producers are going for profit sharing, commissions
Finally.. what do you think about our website www.navatarangam.com ?
I saw navatarangam website for the first time when I read our assistant director Sunil’s interview. It is mostly in telugu which I don’t speak or write, however I got the juice of this website which boldly presents the thoughts of informed young generation on Indian and international movies and movie making! Believe me writing such articles for websites improves your thought process and writing skills..
Similarly I liked the idea behind Reddy Ganta’s www.thetera.com which is creating a platform for novice artists, writers and directors to stay connected. It is still under development but I liked the concept that only people who can prove their talent in some art form (writing, directing, acting, producing, singing etc..) can become a team member of thetera.com and every proven member will be dedicated a page with their show reels and samples..