Anurag Kashyap, one of the bravest filmmakers in the country, no longer finds producers ready to back his films which are even remotely socio-political or religious, fearing the projects may invite trouble in the form of boycott.
Anurag, whose films have routinely put India on the global map, cannot think of mounting his acclaimed Black Friday, which chronicled the 1993 Mumbai blasts, or Gangs of Wasseypur — his Dhanbad-set two part epic which married crime, revenge and politics to resounding success — in the current climate of the country.
In a conversation with Indianexpress.com, Anurag said, “Today if I have to make a Black Friday or a Gangs of Wasseypur, I don’t think I can make it. Because I have seen it, I have tried to, I have written a lot of scripts but there are no takers. There are no takers for a lot of films which are remotely about politics or religion”.
The fear, Anurag said, is real and its effect is out there for everyone to see: If there are no brave voices to back even braver vision, how does one make films in the country? “Those things people are scared about. There are just no takers, so how do you make them? How do you make a film if you have to say something in today’s day and age?” he asks.
Anurag Kashyap looks at the situation, not so much from an emotional perspective, but with a sense of pragmatism of artistes fighting against a system which is ‘unfair’. “We are in a place where we have an extremely unfair fight. It is an unfair game. If there is a match between two teams, each team will have 11 players each. Here, one team has one player and the other has all 11, including the umpire, the players sitting on the bench, the scoreboard and even the entire stadium! What will that lone person do standing against them? There is nothing that we can do,” he says.
The filmmaker’s pessimism also finds roots in the hashtags that are turned into social media weapons against the film industry. From justice for Sushant Singh Rajput–the actor’s death in 2020 had snowballed into a social and political movement, which still occasionally dominates the internet–to calls for boycott of Bollywood films.
Aamir Khan’s Laal Singh Chaddha and Akshay Kumar’s Raksha Bandhan–both set to release on August 11–are the latest films to be at the receiving end of boycott calls by sections of the social media.
Anurag said people in the country are now living, breathing the “boycott culture”, where someone’s relevance is directly proportional to their entry in the hashtag. “We are living in very strange times. Two years later, Sushant Singh Rajput still trends everyday. These are strange times, where everything is to be boycotted. It is not just one side, it is happening across. Everyone is being boycotted: political parties, Indian cricket team, everyone. This country now has a boycott culture. if you are not being boycotted, then you don’t matter,” Anurag says.
But not all is lost for Anurag, who is gearing up for the release of his latest directorial Dobaaraa on August 19. The filmmaker said the way forward is to simply accept the situation and look for solutions to survive and thrive.
“We are dealing with the consequences of our own choices, whatever it is, we have to accept it. You cannot sit here and say ‘oh no’. There are lots of countries which have survived a lot. There is also a way to survive and continue doing something, continue being relevant. Or do nothing, just exist,” the director says. Produced by Ekta Kapoor, Dobaaraa is headlined by actor Taapsee Pannu.