A study of the Anti-Hero Element in Hindi Cinema with Respect to contemporary makers like Anurag Kasyap’s Films

A case study on the anti-hero element in director anurag kasyap’s fims

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A case study on the anti-hero element in director anurag kasyap’s fims:

Anurag Kasyap started his career at a very small note in a tele-films where he wrote episodes for the kids series ‘shaka laka boom boom’. Anurag Kashyap (born 10 September 1972) is an Indian film director and screenwriter. Anurag Kashyap was born in Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh, where his father worked for the state electricity board. He grew up in several cities, including Varanasi, Saharanpur. He did his early schooling in Dehradun, and age eight onwards, at the Scindia School in Gwalior.

He was fascinated with films right from childhood, and even at age five, would watch Hindi films like Kora Kagaz and Aandhi at a nearby film club and open-air theater. This came to an end once he began his schooling.

As a director, he is known for Black Friday (2004), a controversial and award-winning Hindi film about the 1993 Bombay bombings, followed by No Smoking (2007), Dev D (2009) and Gulaal (2009). As a screenwriter, he wrote the scripts for the Filmfare Award-winning Satya (1998) and the Academy Award-nominated Canadian film Water (2005).

In 1999, Kashyap won the Best Screenplay award for Satya at the Star Screen Awards. The next year, his short film Last Train to Mahakali won the Special Jury Award at the same awards. His feature film debut Black Friday won the Grand Jury Prize at the 3rd Annual Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles (2005), and was a nominee for the Golden Leopard (Best Film) at the 57th Locarno International Film Festival (2004). Recently, he announced his association with Tumbhi where he and his team will make 6 short films for Tumbhi and start his blog with them as well.(2010).

In September 1993, while Kashyap stayed at the St. Xavier’s Boys Hostel, he used to hang out with the members of a band—Greek (later Pralay). He took copious notes on how they lead their lives—forty pages of a small notebook, and began writing the script—”in bits and pieces”—for a film that he called Mirage but which would later become Paanch. Kashyap had seen ex-VJ Luke Kenny in a Vikram Kapadia play, and approached him with an incomplete script, but nothing came out of it. Later on, while working with Nair, he came across files related to the Joshi-Abhyankar Serial Murders that took place in Pune in 1976.

Why does the researcher regard Anurag Kashyap as an auteur and chose to analyze his body of work because they feel there is a struggle - there is a creative voice that wants to rebel and a heart full of feelings. His films contain a personal vision and a distinctive style which as an artist interests the researcher to observe and examine. The filmaker in kashyap intrestes and attarcts the researcher to look deep into his body of work and what is it that he always has a very sad ending to all his stories and his characters always have a shade of grey to them.

What is the place, in the history of cinema, of this young filmmaker? He is not revolutionary but belongs to the rebels, he is not radical but belongs to the non-formula, he is not the first artist but belongs to the world of artists, and he is not extraordinary but does not belong to the ordinary either.

9A poster collage of Anurag Kashyap and his movies:

The Auteur and his influence of his own life:

Every Auteur consciously or otherwise is exploring certain pet themes and thus his body of work reflects his thought process and insights on the subject. The personal life of an auteur cannot be divorced from his films. This interplay is different every time, sometimes more subtle, sometimes more overbearing, which can include premise, locations, character or any or everything. If the filmmaker does not involve himself its the work of a craftsman and not an artist.

The starting point for a true artist is that he/she is sensitive to life unfolding and also aware of their inner self. There is a constant process of questioning and probing for the truth.

Anurag was a sensitive child – as a young boy in school he wrote a poetry on suicide but it was not seen as an expression of pain by a sensitive artist but rather misunderstood and perceived wrongly as a state of depression and was recommended treatment. His keen sense of observation, his originality and creativeness in his schoolwork were never understood or encouraged in his childhood instead his voice was drowned in the routine and security of a conformist existence. He felt like an outcast in a prestigious school where he did not know English and was teased by others. He always had a voice but nobody heard him. This continued even with his films as one film after another was banned (starting with Paanch, Black Friday,Gulaal) but, as he himself says, that was a very important part of his life, those failures really shaped him and in fact interestingly entered and become part of his artistic world of exploration.

“No Smoking mirrors my struggle in the industry. That’s why it’s most dear to me and it’ll always remain so, more than Dev. D and more than Black Friday.” (Interview with Bikas Mishra – Dear Cinema Feb 8th 2009).

An important layer of the film is Kafka’s Trial and this takes us back to an early influence on Anurag in his initial struggling days in Mumbai. He had written a play and showed it to Govind Nihalani, who appreciated the work and asked him to read Isben and gave him Kafka’s Trial to read and adapt to film. At that point in time all this confounded Anurag’s confusion as he was going through a tough time in his life and as a result Anurag stopped taking Govind’s calls and meeting him. But it’s interesting to note how this finds itself later in a film that he makes.

And Anurag says about the film at the India Habitat Centre, New Delhi “The first book that I read in English was Kafka’s Trial (Anurag could not read English till the age of 17 years) I never could understand it but it never left me. If you work in any system it’s very Kafkaesque, you don’t know what is going on, you cannot figure it out. And you don’t know what is wrong with you. I could not understand why Black Friday was banned. I could not understand if a book could exist why the film could not come out. I could not understand why Paanch was banned. I could not understand why I could not make Gulaal….what is wrong with speaking up.”

10Just smoking becoming a metaphor it became a very personal movie. And the end portion where the things are not explained is also because I never could understand what was going on with my life so I felt let the audience also feel the same thing.”

No smoking again showcased his leading man John Abraham as not the typical conventional hero, but the character had many shades of grey to it, although it was critically acclaimed , the film dint do much at the box office. And thus it somewhere states that the audiences love and do accept anti-hero elements in films but not always.

Another very personal film is That Girl in Yellow Boots (2010). Anurag seems to be confronting his painful past of sexual child abuse which he experienced for 11 years. “I came to Mumbai brimming with angst, bitterness and a sense of violation and isolation. Thanks to the love of my life, Kalki Koechlin, I am completely cured of my acrimony.”(TOI Subhash K Jha, Nov 11, 2009, 10.51 am IST) These words of Anurag are revealing that as a young man when he came to Mumbai to make films he had a lot of pain inside him and a voice that wanted to be heard. The film has as its theme child abuse and incest, which we realize only at the end of the film when the protagonist is confronted with a bitter truth that the father she was so desperately searching for was a pervert, a child abuser and had sexually violated her sister and caused her death. The film leaves the character and the audience in a state of shock and deep pain which are not expressed with tears, not taken to the level of sentimentality but to a much deeper level.

The film is not limited to the pain of a personal experience; it reveals the underbelly of society and provides a glimpse of the darker side of life at close quarters. Above all the film is interested in the journey of the inner self and reflects on how so many of us are living a delusion. The film prompts us to see the need to confront reality and find our true selves.

In fact the metaphor of the ‘mirror’ and the character looking at herself/himself in Last Train to Mahakali, That Girl in Yellow Boots, and Gangs of Wasseypur, and in a lot of his films seem to hint at the director’s examination of self-delusion by the characters, a sort self-examination, a self-exploration, a contemplative introspection.

Kashyap uses his characters as basis of his story, he dwells deep into their psyche and knows how to strike a chord with his audiences emotional, and he somewhere drains out his own emotional struggles through his characters.

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