On a rare sunny afternoon in Melbourne, I found myself in the exuberant company of a select group of cinephiles at a cozy restaurant opposite Luna Park in St. Kilda. Though it might be difficult to believe, but this was indeed the intimate backdrop where renowned Indian filmmaker Anurag Kashyap (Gangs of Wasseypur, Ugly, Dev.D, Gulaal) spent the better part of the next hour opening up to his attentive audience about diverse issues such as—censorship in an Indian context, the relationship between art and commerce, the need to be honest about your intentions as a filmmaker, pushing the boundaries of comfort in an atmosphere of growing fear and hysteria right across the world and the need to build a culture of supporting the kind of cinema that you want to see flourishing. What followed was an introspective discussion about the state of cinema and filmmaking that transcended the Indian context and is applicable to film industries around the world. Mr Kashyap’s honesty was perhaps second only to his piercing insight.
This piece is an attempt to capture the essence of that discussion as faithfully as possible. The piece is divided into broad thematic segments for ease of navigation, however, all attempts have been made to retain the verbatim context of Mr Kashyap’s words. Any remarks made in Hindi have been retained, with probable translations provided within brackets. For references to external stimuli or further clarifications, please see footnotes.
On his career beginnings and initial struggle to establish himself
In India, the consumer wants everything for free, they don’t want to pay for anything. Everything in India is advertising dependent because people want it for free. So, I realised right at the very beginning that it’s [the film industry] like a family controlled business and it is very difficult for one to get in. The only way I could get in was if I offered my services for free. That’s how I started. I would do anything for anyone without charging money and without asking for credit. It was easy for everyone to use me. So initially, I got used for two years. I don’t think anybody is that evil that they keep using you for the rest of their life. At some point, they start feeling guilty. The first time that I got credit for anything was for a daily soap running at that time called Trikaal, that too at the very end as a dialogue writer. It doesn’t matter. After a while, somebody comes along and gives you that credit. My first two proper credits—Hansal Mehta gave me credit and Ram Gopal Varma gave me credit for Satya.1 And I became an official ‘writer’ after that. By that time, I had actually got a significant body of work. I had worked with everyone in the industry at that time. And when I say everyone, I mean everyone.
On understanding censorship and film certification in India in its proper context
In India, censorship is not understood very well by people, including the press. A lot of things in movies are not allowed for a certain certificate. So, if I want my film to be certified ‘U’ [Universal] certain things won’t be allowed. But if my film is certified ‘A’ [Adult], Constitution gives you that right. And it’s a three stage thing. Ninety percent of the filmmakers don’t fight for their rights. A film goes through three different stages: Examining Committee, Revising Committee and the FCAT [Film Certificate Appellate Tribunal]. People take whatever the Examining Committee tells them to cut and they accept the cuts. The Examining Committee doesn’t allow you anything. All my films, I take them to the last stage and get them passed. So actually, I have not got anything cut from any of my movies. I fight till the end, I always fight it.
On the unique case of the film Udta Punjab concerning censorship and the subsequent changes to film certification process post the incident
With Udta Punjab the case was very different. A lot of people don’t understand what the case was. Udta Punjab was a very strange case. The government did not want to give us cuts because the government did not want to take responsibility for the cuts in the film. So, they never gave us cuts. They just called up and said—these are the cuts. They never gave it on paper. We wanted to go and fight it out in the courts but without paperwork, you can’t fight it out in the courts. What they were trying to do was blackmail us for a long time and not give us paperwork so that we are cornered and because of financial pressure, we will have to give in. This was all due to the elections [in the state of Punjab].2 The government was playing a game. Censor was playing a game with us and not taking responsibility. That’s what happened with Udta Punjab. With Raman Raghav 2.0 the same thing happened—they gave us the cuts, I went to the courts and my film got cleared. Udta Punjab was a desperate fight. We were ten days from release and we had not even been given a letter. It was a tactic being used to blackmail us, to corner us, into accepting their demands.
Now, things seem better because recently some new rules have been passed. I am not in India so I don’t clearly know what has happened. But I think it has got to do with certification and that various new categories have come in.3 Somewhere, that fight [regarding Udta Punjab] has resulted in a lot of positive things. Let’s see what happens.
On the tension between the need for privacy versus the principle of taking a stand for what is right in the public sphere
I would rather stay anonymous and people don’t know anything about me. It’s just that you have to fight for what you believe in. I hate any kind of attention. I don’t like doing interviews, I don’t like talking to the press, I don’t like any of that. But it’s just that I have to fight because nobody else will fight for me. Udta Punjab is not my film.4 I just loved the film so much. My film is Raman Raghav 2.0. My film suffered because I fought for Udta Punjab. Because people thought that Udta Punjab was my film. But nobody stands up for what is good. Toh kisi ko toh khada hona padta hai [In such a situation, somebody has to stand up for what is right].
The reason we won the fight was because the entire [film] industry came together. That was one fight where the whole industry was there. It was very vocal. Every film union, society came together.
On how his first film Paanch came about
I was working on this crime series in which Sriram Raghavan made Raman Raghav.5 And a lot of unmade films were there. The original thought of Paanch came from the Jakkal murder case in Pune.6 I was writing another script called Mirage at that time, which I was unable to finish because I couldn’t see a way of finishing it. So I decided to merge the two—the Jakkal murder case and the unfinished script into one idea and that became Paanch.
On making films and honing the craft despite limited monetary capital
All the movies we were making, we had no money, no funds. My whole training was to make a film without money. So, over the years I had discovered how to make movies without money. You spend money on locations, to get permissions; you spend money on clothes, buying costumes. You spend money on travelling, accommodation. I’m thinking of things you spend money on. You spend money on hiring equipment, on actors.
I started working with newcomers aur main pehle hi bol deta tha ki paisa nahi hai [and I used to make it clear to them upfront that I have no money]. I started shooting during festivals. All my films I shoot during festivals like Diwali. So the city is naturally lit up. I don’t have to light it. I don’t pay for locations because I treat it like—okay, I can’t make a set, so here is my set. Main kidhar bhi camera laga ke shoot kar loonga [I’m happy to put the camera anywhere to get a shot].
But I do have important principles. That, yes, one—I don’t have money to make films. But secondly—it should not look like I don’t have money to make films. That’s also a thing that you have to work a lot on. It’s a very carefully constructed style of filmmaking. Even if you are making films like that, they have to look very rich. For example, if you see Raman Raghav 2.0 you see the first nightclub, the second nightclub, the police station—that’s all one location: that’s my office. The logic is, what do you see in a nightclub? It’s just darkness mixed with lights. I put my own lights and turned all the other lights off and it [the office] became a nightclub. That’s how I shoot. The girl’s house was my house that I live in. That’s how I’ve evolved over the years. Gulaal was shot like that because we were shooting every Diwali. Har saal hum Diwali pe Jaipur jaate the Gulaal shoot karne [Every year we used to go to Jaipur during Diwali to shoot the film Gulaal]. So we spent five Diwalis shooting Gulaal.
The curious case of Bombay Velvet
With Bombay Velvet, if we had to create a whole city, it would have cost much more. The problem is, if the film was not about Bombay, say for example, it was about a European city or any western city somewhere in Australia, it would have been much cheaper. They [western countries] preserve their heritage. If you go to Bombay today, you would not find a single building from the 1960s, except in town side. We don’t care about our heritage. So we had to recreate the whole city. That’s where we spent the money. If we shoot a period film in Rome, you don’t really have to spend much money. All you have to do is small clean-ups. We had a different plan of shooting Bombay Velvet and Melbourne was included in that plan because we wanted to shoot the VT sequence. We were coming here to shoot outside the Melbourne station because it’s designed by the same architect. We had done our research. If per chance, we got no money to shoot Bombay Velvet like Gulaal, we’ll travel and recreate Bombay in bits and pieces across the world.
On the process of writing
When I write, I write very freely. But I always see everything through the camera. For me, I only need that much that I’m seeing. Normally what happens is, when anybody is making a film, they look at the entire location and sixty percent of it stays unused. That’s unnecessary money spent.
On his writing habits
I mostly write when I am travelling. Like I am writing in Melbourne right now. And I mostly write non-stop. I just write. There is no process, except to just keep doing it. Most of my scripts I write very fast. I write with my hand, I don’t use a laptop. I write in the language the film is in.
On his habit of not saying ‘cut’ at the end of a scene
I’ve been an actor on stage and I know how actors are on camera. I don’t say ‘cut’ at the end of a scene because I get actors into a state of mind and throw them into a particular situation when I shoot. And I always shoot from a distance because I don’t like to intimidate the actors. Unke chehre mein camera nahi aata, camera hamesha bahut door rehta hai [The camera doesn’t come close into their faces, it always remains at a distance]. I always shoot from far away. I put them [actors] in a situation. Actors want to do more. They want to be seen. So they go on, they never stop. I get a lot of extra things because of that. And I can always cut it out. If I am not getting anything extra, I can always cut it out.
On long-held formulaic notions about Hindi cinema and the need to create and invest in a kind of cinema that allows the audience to think for themselves
Why is it that every film in Hindi cinema is about happy endings and positive characters? Don’t you think the Indian audience must be suffering from diabetes? So much sweetness in our movies and all our movies are about such good things and social messages. Why has it not made people better? And all the other places where people make more real films, sometimes you feel like they have better governance and a better society than us. I am saying that you should ask that question. We are conditioned by a certain kind of cinema where we have been rendered incapable of thinking for ourselves. And we have started propagating that. Cinema kya hota hai? Cinema yeh hi hota hai [What is cinema? Only this kind of cinema can be considered ‘cinema’ and nothing else].
We don’t think for ourselves. Somebody else is doing the thinking for us and telling us how to live our life because they have completely rendered us impotent by controlling our mechanism to question. We are not allowed to question anything. Hum har cheez accept kar lete hain [We have a mentality of accepting everything]. You know, I think my characters are very mild. Because our Hindi cinema characters are so fluffy like candy floss. It’s all relative. Aap ne agar safed pehna hai toh aap ko mera grey kaala dikhega [If you’ve worn white and like wearing white, then even my grey coloured clothes will appear ‘black’ to you]. Aap doosre cinema ke comparison mein dekho. Aap bologe yeh toh kuch bhi nahi hai [Look at Indian cinema with a comparative lens, with other kinds of cinema around the world. When you do that, you’ll realise that my characters are harmless in comparison].
Feel good films don’t make the world a better place. They just don’t make the world a better place. They just make you feel good about yourself. It’s like jab aap kisi beggar ko paisa dete ho na, you are not changing their life, you are feeling good ki maine paisa diya [It’s like when you give out money to a beggar, you do it to make yourself feel better rather than with the motivation to change their life]. Feel good films do that. They give you a false notion of your own greatness.
On his penchant for subversion and asking uncomfortable questions through his films
Everything should be allowed and I like subverting things. For example, when comedies address things that we as a society are very uncomfortable about, it kind of brings the topic into public domain. People start thinking and talking about it. I think discomfort is very necessary. The problem in our society is that we think whatever makes us uncomfortable must be banned. Nobody likes uncomfortable questions. Nobody likes a child asking questions related to sex. Whereas those are the questions that must be answered. We tend to ignore the question and tell the child off: why are you asking such questions? Who has put these thoughts in your head? That’s what the Indian parent does. In India, you have to fight for such things. We know that our morality will be questioned, we know that we will be judged. For example, for a movie like Raman Raghav 2.0 people write all kinds of nonsense on Twitter. Regarding that sequence [with the sister] in the second chapter, they ask me questions like “is this the kind of brother-sister relationship that you believe in?” You’re talking about society, you’re talking about the world, you’re talking about something that exists. But nobody wants to talk about it. So they accuse you directly. They question your morality. Like, after Dev.D, I was turned into a pervert. I was constructed as this weird guy who has a weird relationship with his wife. When they [people] are uncomfortable, they accuse you directly. When you can’t address things directly, you do it in a roundabout way and you hope that somebody catches it and somebody puts it out there in public domain.
On what Raman Raghav 2.0 was really about
Raman Raghav 2.0 is actually about the religious fundamentalism that is plaguing the country. But it’s a long discussion, it’s such a long discussion. The shots in the movie showing the massive crowds coming out and showing their strength are real shots. I have not camouflaged those shots. They are not created for the film. They are real people. And for the first time I have seen such a display of strength from communities, all communities. The biggest surprise was the Sikh community—which never came out in Bombay. The entire Sikh community came out this time because they were also insecure. It has never happened before. Like on Mohurram Muslims do come out, Hindus come out during Ganpati but Sikh community on the streets of Bombay? I have never seen that before! And they all came out dressed traditionally to show their strength. Because there is so much religious insecurity that is floating around in the country. And we got those shots. That’s what it is. In India, see how afraid people are and nobody is talking. Nobody says anything.
On the worrying growth of fundamentalism, negativity and hysteria all over the world
You can’t address anything directly. If you say anything directly, fifty thousand people who are like trolls will attack you. It doesn’t matter how much you report it. The editor will pick out a line that is controversial and make that into a headline. The people who will read it will not read the entire article, they will read the headline and judge you. I’m saying we have gotten into a world where on the internet a negative headline will get more clicks. So it doesn’t matter if the article is very positive. The headline must be negative. Look at what happened to Aamir Khan for voicing an opinion.7 Look at what happens to anyone for voicing an opinion. The bigger the person is, they will be attacked. The only way to say what you have to say in today’s day and age is through that one right that is given to you—it’s the elections. I’m saying there is nothing else you can do or say. And this is across the world. The fundamentalism is across the world. The whole world is becoming right wing. The entire world: from the US to Europe to everywhere. It’s not about India or Pakistan. Sab jagah yeh haal hai [It’s the same situation everywhere].
On how social media has lost its purpose and why he hates it
I hate social media. When it started, I was so happy about it. When social media initially came in, it was like everybody who was voiceless found a voice. Now, the thing is, yes the voiceless found a voice, but the people they were voicing against were always much smarter. They figured out what social media is about. Now they have come back and learnt how to control social media. So social media has lost the purpose that it got in the beginning. Now we are again back to the same thing. The same people who control our lives otherwise also control social media. They know how to play it. And they have the power to play it more than you might individually have sitting on your laptop.
At least earlier, there was a validity of truth. When something was published in a newspaper, you believed it to be true. And if it was false, you could take the newspaper to court. But today, you don’t even know if the website that’s reporting the news is genuine or fake. How can you question any kind of authenticity of the source—of the people quoted, of the article? There is nothing. There is something that is happening in Paraguay and it’s being propagated as something that is happening in Punjab. The people have darker hair, the video is very unclear. And that lie propagates so much anger and everything. Everybody is manipulating social media. Because suddenly, it’s all about what’s there. Nobody questions the truth. That doesn’t really have to do with religion or politics, it’s also about the Bermuda Triangle. You know, the Bermuda Triangle has these crystal pyramids that is causing the ships to sink. Then there is another article saying that that is a hoax. Then there is a third article saying something else. That’s what social media has become. You have to find your own truth and stick to it. Somehow.
On the intertwined relationship between art and commerce
Any art that can sustain itself will live longer. And I think it’s important for cinema to sustain itself. Sometimes you have to work backwards, in the sense that a lot of people have an issue. They come, they make films and they feel they are better filmmakers, hence they should get more money to make those films. That’s not true. That’s no way, that’s no criteria. For a producer, it’s a business investment, right? So, if I have personally chosen to make a movie like Raman Raghav 2.0 and I know it’s not going to make money, it doesn’t matter in my head what I think about myself. In any kind of a business, if you generate money, you get more money. My films are not generating more money. So I can’t go there and ask for more fees. So, it’s absolutely justified that film people who make those blockbusters should get more money for that. Because they are generating money. And that money they are generating allows me to make a Raman Raghav 2.0. So you know, anything in the business is very correct. Salman Khan generates more money so he will always get more money and he should. Because we need him to generate that kind of money. Because if he doesn’t, I wouldn’t be allowed to make a film. That’s one of the key reasons why Hindi cinema is one of the healthiest industries in the world. One important thing is, we don’t need to sell a single ticket to a non-Indian for us to survive. Right? That is also our big drawback because our cinema doesn’t progress because of that. Because we don’t need to sell a ticket to a non-Indian, we don’t take chances. We take less chances and we make less risky films.
On the different mediums of theatre and film and the subtleties that actors need to be grasp in order to be successful in their respective medium
Theatre and cinema are two very different mediums. The biggest mistake actors make is that they work on a lot of external things. There is a very good article floating on the internet about how method acting has destroyed cinema acting.8 It doesn’t work in cinema, it really doesn’t work in cinema. One basic thing people need to understand is, when you are performing on stage, you use body language to attract the attention of the audience because the audience is sitting far away from you. Or you use voice projection. But in cinema, the mic is here [close to you] and the camera is directly into your eyes. So the more you do, the worse you’ll look. Because the mic and camera and hear and feel you whisper. The camera is watching your eyes. If you don’t believe in that moment, in that moment of truth, then it doesn’t matter how well you say your lines, you look false. It’s like when you see a movie, the actor may be saying the right lines, but you still don’t believe them. So, I have to believe you.
It’s like this. When I look at you, when you look at me; when I talk to you, you talk to me, you are not looking at my nose. You are looking at my eyes. The audience has a direct relationship with the actor by looking into their eyes. When I’m watching a film, I’m watching the actor’s eyes. Why do Nawazuddin [Siddiqui] and Irrfan work so much more? Because they believe in what they are doing. So I as an audience believe in them. A lot of other actors invest in everything that is external. So you see a lot of good actors, it doesn’t matter what they do, their eyes don’t look convincing. They are just delivering their lines. The eyes are somewhere else. You have to stop being camera conscious. Stop being aware of the camera. You have to believe in the moment. The entire screen presence is right there. If you are not convinced of the lines you are saying, there is no way you can convince me of those lines. In method acting, your eyes lose focus because you are so internal. You are thinking about whether I am doing it right and concentrating on everything else, you are not concentrating on the truth of the moment. Method acting might work in a long shot, it never works in a close-up.
On the label of an ‘indie’ filmmaker
What is an ‘indie’ filmmaker? You can do things cheaply, do them cheaply but they should not look cheap. That is the biggest advice I would give anyone. A lot of the time what happens is that in the name of indie filmmaking, people are doing anything. They think being ‘indie’ is a license to get away with anything, which is not true. Indie means you are self-funded. Indie means you are self-resourced. Indie means you are independent. Indie does not mean you have been granted any kind of a license to do anything and you will get away with it. Because eventually, it will only work on merit. Whether it is an indie film, or anything, it will work on merit. I can’t just walk up to A.R. Rahman and say just because I am indie, you make yourself available and do it for me. I will take the chance with a newcomer. The problem is, what a lot of indie filmmakers do is that they take their ‘indie cred’ and walk up to people who won’t be available and expect them to make themselves available because they have ‘indie cred’.
On the people he has most enjoyed working with
People I’ve really enjoyed working with are Nawazuddin, Ranbir Kapoor. As a producer, I think Alia Bhatt is incredible. Her talent is only going to become better. There is Manoj Bajpayee, Aditya Srivastava. Those are people I have really enjoyed working with because they give a lot. I like my actor to believe in me and I like my actor to trust me. And I like to trust my actors. So when I get total trust, I enjoy that process. When an actor is constantly insecure, then it becomes very difficult for me to work with them.
On the atmosphere on his sets and why he is deliberately tough on his assistants
My sets are the calmest sets. Anybody who sees my films gets very scared but is then surprised when they come on the set. It’s a great team working together. People really enjoy working there. You will hardly hear a noise. Nobody screams on my set.
I know how to get my work done. I am tough on my ADs. I am only tough on my ADs. For me, my actors are the most important people. I am expressing myself through the actors, so my actors are very pampered. Because I ask a lot of them, I ask a lot out of them. But I am very hard on my assistants. I underpay my assistants. Deliberately. Because I want them to get used to the fact that nobody is going to come and give everything to them on a platter. So, I make them go through a lot of hard times. But I eventually turn everybody into a filmmaker. I have the largest number of assistants who have become filmmakers. That I do very consciously. I know that cinema is a very expensive art form. And they need to learn to value it. You can’t take it for granted. I have been making films for twenty-three years because I try and not take it for granted.
On his dynamic with actor Nawazuddin Siddiqui
It’s a very silent relationship. Me and Nawazuddin can sit on a flight between Melbourne and New York in silence. And comfortable silence. We don’t have this need to talk. My most comfortable relationships are with people who can deal with my silence. Just sitting, reading, writing and all that. It begins with trust. He gives me that much trust that I push him and he just goes ahead and does it. And this is with every film. He got hospitalised twice during Raman Raghav 2.0. Because I put him in such locations and places that he got dengue. His immunity was down. So he gives a lot. Any kind of a great relationship you share with anyone is built on trust. And when I say trust, I mean complete trust.
On some common mistakes that young filmmakers make
Half the time people ask me about writing scripts, but ninety-nine percent of them haven’t even written a full script. Because they are just thinking about it. Half the time you are just thinking about doing things. You don’t really go out and do it. You have to just put it in practice. There is a very simple, basic rule: nobody in the world is going to come to you and say, “Hey, I’ll do it for you”. You have to do it yourself. It’s a self-serving world. If anybody thinks that they are going to become self-righteous about cinema, you have to realise that you are spending somebody else’s money to live your dream. And you are not even guaranteeing their money back. You are not guaranteeing anything to anyone else.
The need to be honest with yourself about your own intentions
You have to go out and do everything with what you have available. And you will get just one chance. You have to put in everything. You have to be very aware. You have to be very honest with yourself. Another thing about filmmakers is—can you make a film, if I say, don’t put your name there as a director? Would you still make that film? I’m telling you, eighty percent of the people just want to see their name as ‘directed by’. And you’ll see them—when their film comes out, they’ll walk in to see their name and then they’ll walk out. They feel very good about themselves. You know, it’s like they don’t really want to make a film. They just like the idea of being on a set, set up a shot and playing a director more than actually directing. So, I’m saying, that truth first of all you have to separate. What is it you really want to do? Which is why I say, are you really passionate about making a film? I’ve never had a conflict. All my films, if you see in the film credits, there can be fifty writers. I will always write my shooting draft and put my name at the bottom. So, nobody fights for credit. I put my name at the bottom so everybody else feels small in putting their name on top. So I never have conflicts on the set.
The problem is, people first need to figure out why they are doing something. Half the people just fancy themselves. They dream about it. They don’t really want to go through the grind of it all. They will not go and handpick everything to get it done. For example, in Gangs of Wasseypur, the shot where the mountain goes up. For that one shot, I knew that I can’t buy a mountain for four crores and then blow it up. To get it free, I had to travel. I had to travel ten hours, sit with a camera, waiting for that mountain to blow up to get that one shot. And we got that shot and we spent five thousand bucks. That’s how you put your film together. So every shot you see in Wasseypur—of sand being stolen, of coal being stolen—they are real shots of real thieves stealing those things. I can’t pay for a whole sand mine or a coal mine. I would go there like a news cameraman, sit with my cameraman, my team would be there and wait for somebody to… We found out what time they steal; we did our homework. We go there and put the camera and we shot real people. My whole film can be used as evidence against people. That’s how you create a shot. That’s why it looks authentic. It takes a lot of patience, a lot of pain and a lot of hard work. My second unit director got put into prison thrice. He got slapped around by the goons who said “why are you shooting this?” But we go through all that.
On the emergence of digital platforms and the need for building a culture of supporting the kind of cinema that you want to see flourish in India and across the world
The problem with India is, as I said right at the beginning, people like everything for free. Why would Netflix buy your film? If your film is indie doesn’t mean Netflix would buy it. You have to do things the right way. Who decides what is good? It’s the person who’s buying it [the film] who will decide if it’s good enough for him or not. We live in a lot of false notions just to make ourselves feel better. And then we cry later on. I’ve seen a lot of filmmakers. They make films, they are destroyed, careers get over. People are, like, completely gone. And it’s because of these myths that they propagate. It’s a very simple thing. Today also I went and I bought movies. All the movies are available on torrents. But I am a filmmaker. I will watch a movie by buying it. I need to pay for a movie. If I am really desperate for a movie, I might watch it on torrent but I’ll still go and find a way to pay for it. I am a filmmaker whose films are downloaded the most. And piracy is something—a student who wants to watch a film—piracy is not because of money or anything, it’s also because of a lack of access. Right? So there’s a student who goes and downloads a film, I’ll never go and complain against him. Because the guy doesn’t have money and he wants to watch a film. He’s also my audience, I want to reach out to him. And I hope that one day he becomes a paying audience.
But my biggest problem is when people who work in the film industry, when they download films. Those who are filmmakers, when they download films and then they complain about why the indie cinema is not working. The world over, it’s only the tentpole movies that are going to be released in theatres. Every arthouse cinema, you see the festival movies, everything is going straight to DVD. So many movies that go to Sundance for example, are going straight to digital platforms. And people are still downloading them and watching them. In India, my biggest problem is, the film industry, sixty to seventy percent of the film industry downloads movies to watch it. And they are very proud of it. How can you stand up and fight against it? Who are you to stand up and fight against it? It’s a very simple thing. It has to begin at home. If you think of yourself as an indie filmmaker and you want your film to go out there and work, you also start supporting other indie filmmakers. And you support them just by going and watching that film. You build a culture. You can’t blame the culture for them not allowing you to exist. You build a culture for all of them, for the community to co-exist. Hum logon ka problem kya hai na, hum log yahaan baith te hain and we think that it’s our birthright and that people don’t get us [Our problem is that we sit here on our high horses and we think that it’s our birthright and that people don’t get us]. I’m saying, what are you doing out there? You want a certain kind of cinema to flourish, you start supporting that cinema. I’ve constantly invested every single penny I have earned back into creating a kind of cinema that we believe in. We have to stop expecting the world to do it for us. You start doing it for the world and you see how your life will change.
Thanks to the Indian Film Festival of Melbourne for making this discussion possible.