When a movie by Anurag Kashyap is released, the moviegoer rushes to watch it at the first opportunity, eager to see the next bunny being pulled out of the hat. Little surprise then that when the filmmaker arrived at TV.NXT 2012 as one of the speakers, he once again spoke to a packed hall.
At the third TV.NXT event, presented by ABP News, Kashyap was quizzed by Sudhish Kamath, senior assistant editor, The Hindu. The former, in his signature way, shared his thoughts on various subjects like content in TV and films, censorship, maturity of audience and more.
The conversation began with Kamath asking Kashyap what he thought of the blatant disconnect between the content in television shows and the movies.
Kashyap, mincing no words, replied that characters in TV shows are poorly sketched.
"Everything is so designed in TV. Everything becomes so philosophical. The dialogues are written based on character sketches. The character exists even before it begins on television," he said.
Kamath then raised a point on which most filmmakers have a rather strong opinion - that of audience maturity and censorship.
"People are more mature than our governing bodies think they are. We are curbing the audience's intelligence with censorship," exclaimed Kashyap.
Known for his gritty, hard-hitting movies, Kashyap has often had a tough time with the censor board. And he has a problem with the term 'adult film'.
"'Adult' has become such a dirty word. And to me, the word 'adult' meant someone who could think for himself," Kashyap said.
"Why does cinema have to take the responsibility for family viewing? Go for picnics if you have to with your family," he chided.
Kashyap further noted, "The government should represent the work of art. We are nurturing superstitions and conventions rather than encouraging independent thinking. We are increasingly getting repressed. We are getting sexually repressed."
When asked about the kind of movies he would want his daughter to watch, Kashyap was curt in his reply. "My daughter must watch movies she can understand," he said, adding that he has healthy conversations with her.
Coming back to television content, Kashyap expressed his wish to make a TV series, not soon before he stated that television content in India is far from being what it must be.
Kashyap is of the opinion that television content in India is getting more immature with time. Comparing the same to the rest of the world, he said that content on TV outside of India is much more developed. In Europe, for example, he said that a lot of movies are funded by television. The same cannot be said for India.
"TV shows have a farther reach than movies; reaching many more homes directly. But we are only dumbing it down. After 20 episodes, every TV show looks the same. After 20 episodes, writers are not making the show but TRPs are. The integrity is lost," Kashyap noted.
On movie marketing, the filmmaker observed that a lot of importance is given to marketing where it often goes overboard. Although quick to concede that he knows little about marketing, Kashyap nevertheless added that movie marketing needs to be a lot more regulated.
"The problem? We are the only country that buys content without seeing it. What is more important is who stars in the film. Nobody here knows what they are buying. Nobody puts his head on the line. No one wants to take a chance," he exclaimed.
On this note, Kashyap made no bones about giving credit where it is due when it came to his successful films.
"None of my good films happened because of me but my producers. What will create good content is a good producer - whether TV or films. Something that is not compromised by insecurity. Insecurity is the greatest enemy of creativity," said Kashyap.
He further put forward his reservations against the complacency that has seeped into the minds of people. Kashyap stated that while revenues in India are nothing compared to other markets and countries, the perception here is one where everybody is happy to break a certain benchmark.
"Our mainstream is not mainstream enough. Not ambitious enough. We are crazy about 100-crore clubs when foreign films make such money in a jiffy," he said.
Kashyap also blamed the lack of organisation and planning in India and cited the example of his latest movie - Gangs of Wasseypur - that was planned well to be made in a budget lower than usual and in a short period of time.
"We have big stars, guaranteed audience. If we put mind on content, there is no reason why we cannot do well. But as soon as there is a big star, content goes out of the window," he said. Elaborating on the concept of morality, Kashyap said that he hopes the general idea of morality changes in the society.
"We see things in so much black and white; it bothers me; especially when there are so many shades of grey around us. We are so judgemental. If we see a person smoking a cigarette, we are quick to judge him or her as bad. And we will never know till we smoke one. Moral issues invade so much it becomes larger than life and then real issues are ignored," said Kashyap.
To him, content needs to be closer to life than ever. Kashyap cited the example of how political content is discouraged in both television and films and even a casual dialogue with reference to any real politician is discouraged. He pointed out how he would really like to see content built around the same.
Towards the end of the chat, Kamath asked Kashyap how one could create content across platforms, to which the filmmaker advocated the use of the power of internet.
"Internet is the next medium. It is the only free medium that will boost creative content where the creator is free. That will be the future," said Kashyap.
This was the third edition of TV.NXT, an afaqs! event presented by ABP News.