You mentioned that this is a very important film in today's times. Why?
Because today everyone is building their own imaginary universe. But it's important to see the people who reside in our real universe and who we often don't see. We don’t see the people who make our lives easier – the plumbers, the security guards, the sewer cleaners, etc.
Do you think a film like 'Kastoori' will change people's perception?
If five people change, they change the chowk. If a film reaches two people, the world becomes a little better. If it affects even a small number of people, it makes a difference. no matter how small it is. Change starts at home. If you can bring a change in your home, you can bring a change in your community and if you can bring that change in your community, you can change society. But forget changing our family, we can't even change ourselves.
Why did you choose to present 'Kastoori'?
Ranjan Singh saw the film and showed it to me. I was moved. Ranjan wanted to present the film and I said, “Let’s do it.” We sell to Nagraj Manjule. I said Nagraj was very necessary to release this film. His endorsement was the most important thing. When Nagraj joined us, Cinepolis also joined because Ranjan and Cinepolis share a good relationship. They decided to give us space to release the film.
Regular discussions are happening with regular distributors, and theater owners and people are joining together. We are all trying to find a way to give space to independent cinema. I can only support it pro bono and Nagraj and I are supporting it pro bono because we like this film.
Tell us something about your film, 'Kennedy'…
I was wandering around with that character. But I hadn't decided where to put this character. I tried so hard. I stole this character from Sudhir Mishra. That movie was never made, but that character stuck with me. I narrated a different version of this character for Mohan Lal also. I thought Rajeev Ravi would direct it, but he didn't find time for it.
But certain things happened during the lockdown and I felt it was the right time to bring in this character. I just picked up things that were reported in the newspaper. I'm doing a character story, so my focus was on Kennedy and what if these things were done by this fictional character? I wove a story around it.
Were you worried making the film?
I don't know why people are afraid of me. They say I became a politician. But I did Gulal, which was released in 2009. Wasn't it a political film? Wasn't Black Friday a political film? Why do people think I'm making my social and political comments?
Watch: Anurag Kashyap Honors IFFK 2023 with 'Kennedy'
When you represent a region or a city, you automatically become political. For us, cinema is that which is purely fictional. It has nothing to do with reality. I faced these things when I did Paanch. I was called to the Censorship Board and they asked me: “What is cinema?” I asked them the same thing. They said cinema should be healthy and fun. I asked who said that and what the definition of entertainment is. The definition of entertainment is that the audience is engaged and forced to think. When the definition of entertainment is limited, business is limited from top to bottom. Everyone is an expert – the length of the film should be less than two hours, so many songs and this and that.
Why is your cinema seen from a different perspective, whether by the establishment, the Censorship Board or the general public?
I think expectations are set. If someone likes Black Friday, they expect you to do Black Friday all the time. People keep asking me when 'Wasseypur 3' will arrive. Those who like Dev D ask me when I will do something like this again. I'm living with this constantly. I can't do anything about it.
How did you deal with the lockdown?
Lockdown was difficult for me. I was not prepared for the lockdown because I am a person who works non-stop. I couldn't understand what to do in lockdown. I will be ready if a lockdown happens again.
Has distancing from social media impacted your work?
Nobody is stopping my work. But because I talked so much on social media, people started to get scared that I knew everything. The day I left Twitter and stopped watching and reading news, I realized it's none of my business. My business is making films and telling stories.
Did you face any problems with the Censorship Board under Kennedy?
There were no problems. It's not an 'UA' film. We asked for an 'A' certificate and got it with meticulous cuts.
Are 'rising antiheroes' the new formula for success in Bollywood?
You should ask this of those whose films have become box office hits. Maybe they know the formula. I realized that my films become successful 3-4 years after their release. Kennedy is a psychopath who doesn't fit in anywhere. I've always liked crime films. I observe them, I write, I do.
You recently spoke about the health problems you faced last year…
I just had a heart attack. I faced health issues in 2021-22. I created Kennedy after I recovered.
When can we watch Kennedy?
They're figuring out Kennedy's release date. Maybe early next year. I'm writing and writing nonstop. I have so many scripts. I am ready whenever they are made.
And the Maximum City? Will you ever make it?
Yes why not? When I make a tab I will do it.
Your daughter Aliyah is getting married soon…
She is engaged. She threw the engagement party. I received an invitation. She will decide when she wants to get married. I’m not from that generation that asks, “When are you getting married?”
Are you happy now?
I'm happy. I'm free. I am independent.