A political animal is lying if he says his work conveys no message; this filmmaker’s message to his audience is that society is repulsive, and that message does not quite portray the reality, which he wants us to believe is his genre
One doubts Anurag Kashyap does not convey a message through his films, contrary to his recent assertion. It is not individuals from the audience that draw their respective, subjective conclusions. It is unbelievable that one who identifies with the Aam Aadmi Party’s manifesto while producing as well as promoting Udta Punjab is an apolitical personality. He betrays his political streak further in taking up cudgels on behalf of the film fraternity and whisper-campaigning against the current government. No political animal can resist the temptation of making his work ‘talk’. If gore is the repetitive — though quite often interesting — genre he works in, he persistently tells the people it’s a revoltingly ugly world out there. His interpretation of Sharatchandra Chattopadhyay’s Chandramukhi in Dev D is not a prostitute; she has been excommunicated from society after an MMS showing her in an act of fellatio leaked. The anti-hero of Gulaal has no qualms about laying a honey trap using his sister. In a bid to make the point of repugnance, he crosses the limits of reality to project Biharis, never known for lack of civility in normal conversations, as foulmouthed people who cannot utter a sentence without punching in a few expletives — in Gangs of Wasseypur. In Raman Raghav 2.0, the policeman is a psychopath of a greater degree than the urchin who kills for no rhyme or reason. Stopping short of making this an anthology of Kashyap’s films, the maker must be asked how close to Quentin Tarantino, let alone Martin Charles Scorsese, he has reached in the eyes of domestic or international viewers or critics. The achievement is not even of the level of Vishal Bhardwaj, who freaks out once in a while with Omkara or 7 Khoon Maaf, staying lyrical nevertheless in interpretations of William Shakespeare and other reputed authors. On the one hand, people emerge from theatres and their own television rooms drained out by Kashyap’s engaging plot of violence, sex and pornographic lingo. On the other, they neither raise him to a pedestal of great storytellers nor do they return to the halls for a repeat experience. ‘Work for the sake of work’ would have been a good excuse if Kashyap hadn’t had a shy at box office success with Bombay Velvet where he lost not only commercially but also the faith in his brand.
India most certainly needs filmmakers of the type, however, fed up as the nation was with ‘formulas’ of revenge and poor-boy-loves-rich-girl plots till the 1990s. Thankfully, even commercial capers have stopped being predictable for more than a decade. Surrealism is not but realism, the likes of Kashyap must appreciate and stop, probably, where a Ramgopal Varma does in his action and horror flicks except ‘his’ Aag, which reportedly the Telugu director is embarrassed about. The style should, of course, remain Kashyap’s own if he tried something like Shiva, Satya, Company, Ek Hasina Thi or Rakhta Charitra. He might well take a leaf out of his contemporary Dibakar Banerjee’s Shanghai. Producing cute crooks as in a Khosla ka Ghosla or in an Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye! may be beyond him. The storyline cannot be so corporeal that the narrative stops being real. The world has its fair share of odds, but it is far from disgusting, Kashyap must note. Let’s hope Mukkabaaz has a repeat value as does Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky Balboa.