Sandy's interview with Anurag Basu

Published On: 2017-01-20

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The Kite Runner: Sandy’s interview with Anurag Basu



Source: Naachgaana 

Date: April 3, 2009 



Anurag Basu talks about his much-awaited film Kites and how he achieved a fine working balance with both Rakesh Roshan and the film’s lead, Hrithik Roshan Anurag Basu, who shares a great rapport with UTV (courtesy Metro), will be the director of the month for UTV world movies, where he will be selecting some of his favourite international films to be shown on the channel. Among the two films, the director Gangster and Murder has selected are A Short Film About Love and Three Colors Trilogy (Red, Blue & White). At the onset, this director of troubled love stories admits his exposure to international cinema has been very limited. “I grew up in a place called Bhilai, so access to world cinema was hardly there. I have a long list of films I have yet to see. I need to catch up with all those films and educate myself,” he says. So as a filmmaker in India, does he think it imperative to be in the loop about international cinema and trends? Basu pauses and answers, “I think it is important to see these films but you also need to follow your heart and do things the way you like it.” Talking about following one’s heart, the director seems rather partial to dark, volatile romances in his films. 


He agrees, “ I think I can make a 100 love stories, there are so many films that can be made about love. I think even if I make a film about crime or horror, it will have a strong love story. But if you observe, most of my films delve into a woman’s heart, I rarely see my stories through the eyes of my male protagonists. The thing is that from very early on, I was the crying shoulder for all my cousins who would confide in me about what they were going through. So that was a great learning experience,” he says smiling. His exposure to international cinema may be limited, but Basu is probably one of the few directors of recent times who brings a certain subtlety to his stories. “It’s not something I’ve borrowed from the West. The thing is I hate underlying each and every emotion. I don’t like feeding the audience. I like my characters to act the way they would in real life in a similar situation,” he tells us. Besides subtlety, another one of his strengths happens to be his crisp, award-winning screenplays. Basu reasons, “There are only limited stories out there…practically, everything has been written and filmed. So it really boils down to how different can you make a story that you’ve heard before. It’s like narrating a little joke – how much you enjoy it will depend on how well the person narrates it,” he says. 


Clearly, his talent has impressed the industry, and Basu has gone on to bigger and better things since he started with the Bhatts a few years ago. Today, he’s doing the much-awaited Kites with none other than the super elusive Hrithik Roshan. “I started with television actually,” he reminds you, giving you an idea of his truly commendable ascent. But for someone who has done some great work even with smaller budgets and stars, how did he feel accepting a mega budget film like Kites? Did he ever think his freedom as a creative person could be compromised? “It was a great honour, I had always shied away from working with big stars. Like you say, there was a fear that maybe I would not get the freedom I need and the star would dictate the project. But I gave it a try with Kites and I must say Hrithik has been so easy to work with,” he says about his hero. As for his favourite actress Kangana Ranaut, who he insisted as lead for Kites, here’s what he says about her getting stuck in the image of a living- on-the-edge, neurotic character. “I don’t know why everyone, including me, casts her in such serious roles. She’s actually very fun-loving,” he says. So is she doing something similar in Kites too, “Well, yes, a little bit,” he admits sheepishly and adds, “But I think she will manage to come out of it with her films with Anees Bazmi and others.” 


Talking about how Kites happened, he says, “Rakesh Roshan called me to his office and asked me if I had any ideas for a film. At that point of time, I only had stories which needed an ensemble cast. He said, ‘No, I need something for Hrithik as the single protagonist’ That’s when he gave me a one –line idea and asked me if I could develop a screenplay. I went back and wrote it. When I narrated it to both Rakesh Roshan and Hrithik, they both liked it,” he says. With a senior filmmaker like Rakesh Roshan around, one would imagine that there would obviously be a certain creative involvement from his side also. With both directors being from different schools of filmmaking, were there any serious differences at any point? “When I was writing the script, I used Rakeshji’s experience and incorporated his ideas. He has a pulse on the mass reaction, he knows their taste, and I found that useful in the scripting stage. But once we began shooting, I had complete freedom,” he tells us, adding, “ For me, it was a great honour that another director was offering me the opportunity to direct such an important film. And the best part about it is that the whole shooting went off so smoothly.” 


The director says that he also struck a nice working balance with Hrithik. “He’s so easy to work with because he does half the things himself. His role here is completely different from what he did in Jodhaa Akbar and Krrish and he’s just superb in the film. Now, Hrithik is someone who believes in a lot of preparation and I am probably the most disorganized director in the industry. I even write my script on the sets! Since I was the line producer on Metro, I was not answerable to anyone. But with Kites, it was different and yet, Hrithik adapted wonderfully. We struck a neat balance where we could be prepared and yet spontaneous. Hrithik was very open to improvisation and that helped us,” he says. Talking about the film itself that releases in Diwali, Basu understands that much is at stake. “It’s scary the amount of money and hype that Kites is riding on. As clichéd as it may sound, Kites is a very different film and has potential to reach out to a world audience. It will show that universal themes are possible,” he says.