“Dude .. he is sitting all alone in d 1st row !” read the text message.
The organizers at the IIT Chennai Imaging Cinema Workshop had kept it a secret till the last moment, but the screening of Gulaal a day before had assured us that Anurag Kashyap was going to be there anytime in the day.
My army-like-disciplined routine life had ensured that I wake up late enough to miss my breakfast. And while I was battling with the pangs of hunger, waiting for my turn in the serpentine queue for lunch, I received this sms. There was no way I could go back to the session without missing out some portion, if I sat down for lunch. Once people started getting back to the auditorium post-lunch, there was little chance I could get close to him, forget about talking to him personally.
So before I knew it, I was running towards the auditorium.
“Coupon no. 28.” I could hear someone shout from behind. “Have it yourself !”, I shouted back.
It is common for people to exhibit this kind of behavioral pattern when it come to actors & actresses. There is an adrenaline rush at the very mention of their names. They look for an opportunity to puke anything and everything they know about the person.
I exhibit it for film-makers I adore. Needless to say, Kashyap is one of them. I put his Ted Talk Speeches and interviews in repeat mode and listen to them, over the headphones, while at work.
Here is one of my favorite ones from that playlist.
I reached the auditorium huffing and puffing. It was still empty. There was a small crowd in the first row comprising mainly of organizers. Our beloved Sethu Sir with his characteristic enthusiastic smiling face could also be seen. And there he was. Smartly dressed in a red tee and jeans – the man himself. The naivety & child-like-innocence with which we usually associate him, while watching him on television, had been replaced by a cool & confident demeanor.
I stood near him knowing not what to do. What do I say ? Quickly went the SOS message to Lady Love : ” He is hardly a feet away…. I m going weak in my knees.”
Pat came the reply “Dont..he must hv been in your place sometime ”
And while I was still wondering what to do, I saw Arvind Kamath giving the DVD of Innuendo to him. Wow ! he had paved the way. I quietly went and stood behind him with the DVD of my short film Gutthi as well.
“I’ll watch it. I watch all the films all the films given to me.” ( Oh my God he just looked at me and talked!) “ I am just a bit too tied up with Gangs of Wasseypur work now“, he said.
Some girls giggled their way into the crowd and asked for autograph. “No Abhishek !” I thought. “That would look a bit too silly……….. ” But the very next moment I was there standing in front of him with a piece of paper.
He asked my name. And quitely signed.
“Sir, I am shivering right now.” He smiled and continued to sign.
The auditorium filled in and the Q&A session started. And though I knew exactly what he would be saying before he even opened his mouth to reply( I told you I keep tab of all his interviews), I just wanted to listen to him. And as Anurag slowly started feeling at home over there, the characteristic child-like-innocence and naivety returned in his smile.
What inspires me about Anurag is his sense of selfless love for cinema. There is no pretense of being a connoisseur of art house movies. No condescending attitude towards people who prefer to chose the mushy stuff over his films. He knows his job is to tell a story and as long as he is getting resources to help him achieve that he is happy. Once the movie is out of his system, he will forget about it and start working upon the next idea he is pregnant with.
He will make a film like That girl in yellow boots and take it around the globe to see the reach in non-diaspora markets. He won’t mind losing money from his own pockets to understand the business over there, but surely define the road map for future film makers.
He will also give break to talents like Geetanjali Rao ( Yes…. he is producing an animation being directed by her), Q ( AK Films is co-producing Tasher Desh) who deserve a chance, and back films (Malegaon Ka Superman, Chittagong) that would have otherwise got lost in the mayhem of show business.
And all this while he proudly claims that there is actually no money in the office. They find co-producers at the last moment and are happy if their movies just break even. What the office definitely does provide is food and a space to sleep to everyone.
For people wanting to find out about the questions asked to him, go through Sethu sir’s post on it.
One anecdote that was left out in that post, I would definitely like to mention over here.
Post No Smoking, when the world seemed to be up against him, Anurag played a prank with Reliance. He downloaded the script of Academy Award winning film Juno from the net, changed names and characters and then pitched it to the media Mogul. They discarded it as the shittiest script ever. Anurag then told them that the movie had already been made, won the Oscar for the best Screenplay, done roaring business worldwide and that they can f#@% off. You can easily imagine the kind of response the last two words brought in the room.
And yes Doga is definitely happening and Anurag promises that it is going to be The Dark Knight of India.
I happened to ask him the last question of the day on his shelved project Alvin Kalicharan which was supposed to have Anil Kapoor playing the lead. The girl besides me whispered “You know everything about him ?” “If there is a quiz on Anurag right now in this room, the only person who can defeat me is Anurag himself.”, I thought. As for the above question Anurag said that “It was a futuristic film on the lines of Sin City before it had happened. But now that Sin City has been made I don’t think we are ever going to revive the project.”
The session went on from 3 pm in the afternoon to 6:30 in the evening ( yes I remained hungry till that time) and I don’t remember shifting my gaze for a single moment.
People were not willing to let go-off Anurag even after that and he was happily obliging to all their requests of autographs and photographs. I pushed myself into a frame when someone was taking his photo with him. The end result doesn’t seem to be that good though as you all can see.
Well its always the next time I guess. As of now I am still high on the memories of those 3 hours 35 minutes and 47 seconds spent in that session !