Filmmaker Anurag Kashyap talks about his upcoming film Choked, demonetisation, the pandemic, and the politics of the country.
Kashyap says he was also one of those people who were happy when demonetisation was announced, but got a perspective on it later.
Choked, which drops on Netflix on June 5, stars Saiyami Kher and Roshan Mathew in the lead roles.
Anurag Kashyap is not a person who knows how not to speak his mind. Trolls don’t like Kashyap, they get after him for everything and anything he tweets, but he has learnt to ignore all of it now. Occasionally, he drops one of his wit-laced missiles on Twitter and shuts the troll up. But Kashyap calls himself ‘neither Left nor Right nor Centre’ on Twitter, like his movies.

One of those neither-Left-nor-Right-nor-Centre movies drops on Netflix on June 5. Anurag Kashyap’s topic here is just about three years old: the demonetisation. In Choked, Kashyap takes Saiyami Kher, Roshan Mathew and his audience through a range of emotions from joy to defeat and victory, while saying what he needs to say.

We connected with Anurag over a video call on a June morning, and got down to discussing a wide range of topics from politics, to the pandemic, to people’s belief in Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and, of course, Choked.

Excerpts from the conversation:

I want to take you back to 2017, when you addressed a crowd at Thyagaraja Stadium. You said about Udaan: the people who loved Udaan, watched it on their laptops. That does not bring in revenue. 10 years later, we are sitting across a pair of laptops, in a world where this has become the only reality. How has your cinema changed, how have you adapted your filmmaking for this 4×6 inch audience?

I think I was quite prepared for it. I have been trained for it. Earlier also, when films would come out, people would watch it more after downloading it or Torrenting it. So, I make a film like I am supposed to make a film and people have the choice whether they want to watch it or not. The main thing for me about Netflix is that, it has not just changed the way I make movies, it has allowed me to offer and share the dignity and self-worth with the people who work for me. For instance, in a film like Udaan, almost everyone worked for the film for film. I don’t think Vikramaditya Motwane got paid for the film. Ronit Roy took absolute pay cut and crew members had minimum wage because the film was made under the cost of Rs 2 to Rs 3 crore. Or even a film like Gulaal, where nobody took any money. People did films for the love of the movie, for love of me, for love of the script, for the love of each other.

Today it is not the same. Today, I have the appropriate amount of money that I need to make a film, based on the script and content, not based on who is in it. And I can pay the actual wages and I can pay people money that allows them to live their life with dignity and self-worth, and they are not doing charity for me. And I am not under any obligation. So, that’s the revenue that a film generates for me beforehand so I can share it with everyone, and then we have the right way of making a movie.

Like, Choked is a very uncompromised film. We created the interior set of the house and shot on green screen to create the right atmosphere, and that shows in the film. Everybody talks about the technicality and how did we achieve it. Because we get the right amount, we aren’t compromising, we aren’t stealing shots, we are doing things the right way.

Anurag Kashyap: Choked is the summing up of the entire demonetisation