Anurag Kashyap is intent on proving a point with his next release, That Girl In Yellow Boots – that he has an international audience
That Girl In Yellow Boots (TGIYB) was scheduled to release last year. Correct?
Yes. But I completed Shaitan instead and released it first. I also made Gangs Of Wasseypur and Michael. The only reason TGIYB took a year to release is because when I make a film it goes to many festivals. Ironically, they are released in India but are not released elsewhere in the world. Black Friday, Dev D and Gulaal… none of them released abroad and then distributors say I don’t have a market outside India. I totally disagree. I have a considerable audience everywhere. Mind you, my films fetch much more on satellite rights than many commercials do abroad.
I wanted to explore the overseas audience with TGIYB and so I decided to produce it myself. So, for the last one year, we were working on an international deal for this film. Now, it is releasing in India and abroad simultaneously. In the US, it will release in art-work cinemas by Indiepicx (our distributors). It will also release in Scandinavian countries.
By this, I intend to prove that I have an audience abroad and that I also release my films there. I must add that Viacom 18 has been a source of great support.
A year ago, you had apparently slotted trial shows for corporate houses but none of them showed interest in TGIYB.
There were a lot of offers but I wanted to make it a certain way. At times, when you give a film to a production house, they don’t collaborate with international markets. Take Udaan, for instance. Despite going to Cannes, it didn’t get an international release.
But, yes, there was no one who wanted to produce the film. But as far as distribution is concerned, we showed the film to three people and all of them showed interest. UTV saw the film but Balaji didn’t. They simply read the script and said no, despite the fact that they also do alternative cinema.
And the third?
(Cuts in) Forget it. Next question, pls…
How was TGIYB conceived?
It just happened like any other idea. The basic inspiration was a newspaper article, although the film is not based on a single real-life incident but on many true-life incidents. Like, we had read about a girl going to Thailand in search of her mother… Then Kalki added to that, telling us what it’s like to grow up with white skin in India. The film tells the story of a girl who tries to find her father in the underworld, a very disturbing underworld.
Is it now easy for brand Anurag Kashyap to raise money for his films?
It was difficult then and it’s difficult now. Only the degree of difficulty has changed. When I was new to the industry; people wouldn’t understand the language I spoke. Now with many films working, people feel the audience has accepted me and producers want to invest in me.
The youth is my biggest audience but the biggest problem is they are a non-paying audience. They are the ones who download films but don’t believe in spending. I am making films hoping that one day this non-paying audience will become a paying audience.
There may have been producers who had turned you down earlier but want to work with you now?
I only work with people who understand my work and who I understand. It is about the relationship. I work with people who discuss content, not recovery. If you want to determine recovery first, then it is simple… Take a big star and make a remake of a super-hit film. You know exactly what you are going to recover with the sale of satellite and music rights.
I cannot work like this, it makes one lethargic. These remakes might take huge opening but no one cares about them. The audience feels cheated after seeing such films and there will come a day when the audience will not be concerned at all. It happened with Akshay Kumar as his films with better content didn’t work like the ones which were just about okay. But as far as producers go, there are people who have shown trust in me. Ronnie (Screwvala) is one of them, and although I am not working with UTV, Siddharth (Roy Kapur) and Vikas (Behl) gave me a loan (interest-free) to make TGIYB. They told me, “As a production house, we won’t be able to handle the film but we believe in you.”
Finally, will Anurag, the actor, come back?
Whenever I have acted, I did so because of majboori. Anurag as an actor is a shit actor. (Smiles)