Testing Times!

Testing Times!

As the most clichd saying goes you can like him or hate him, but you surely cannot ignore him Anurag Kashyap has rattled as many as he has impressed...

As the most clichéd saying goes you can like him or hate him, but you surely cannot ignore him. Anurag Kashyap has rattled as many as he has impressed. My opinion on him has changed from a fan to a viewer bored of his directionless storytelling at times.

There can be no doubt that after Ram Gopal Verma and much underrated Sudhir Mishra, Anurag Kashyap has given some of our best dark cinema. Whether it was the controversial ‘Black Friday’ or brazen in your face trendsetting ‘Dev D’. Anurag Kashyap’s passion was noticeable in everything that he did.

That his cinema could not drive box office numbers was at least briefly answered with the smashing success of what remains are best gangster movie since ‘Satya’ – ‘Gangs of Wasseypur’. Anurag Kashyap swam against the tide and came up with a five-and-a-half-hour movie. To make it exhibitor friendly he decided to release it in two parts. Thank god for that.

‘Gangs of Wasseypur’ is now part of popular culture. Its dialogues and songs have become part of Bollywood history. Characters like Sardar Khan, Faizal and Mohsina have become bigger than the movie. After this film, Anurag Kashyap was a blend of “Subhash Ghai meets Tarantino”.

What made Anurag a great maker for his the then fans like me was his storytelling against the dynamics of box office and what the middle-class would want. So, his characters would use cuss words like Rajinikanth tosses cigarettes and goggles. His Devdas would choose to walk away with a Chandramukhi. Surprisingly the middle-class loved him most for this depiction. Then came what I term as his fall. Post-Ugly, the Anurag Kashyap that we knew as an honest in your face storyteller started allowing his own political or ideological biases to mix with his storytelling. The media continued to praise him because once a blue-eyed boy with the media the status usually does not change.

The audiences, however, started growing a little bored of extra dosage of darkness with every passing movie and contrary to his earlier efforts like a ‘Gangs of Wasseypur’ or a ‘Gulaal’. Slowly his movies started having dragging screenplays.

‘Udta Punjab’ was the first signal the Anurag is letting his other viewpoints on issues come in the way of what can be honest storytelling. ‘Udta Punjab’ still got in some audiences because of the huge controversy it brought with itself. Pahlaj Nihalani can owe his entire CBFC fiasco on this one movie. The real pointer that for all the media adulation Anurag was losing his audience connect came with ‘Mukkabaaz’.

This movie was and remains the biggest indicator of how Anurag’s inner confusion or stubbornness to carry political messages was hitting his storytelling. ‘Mukkabaaz’ was actually two stories divided by an interval. The first half was a great love story mixed with a young man’s determination to do well at all odds. Post-interval it wanted to be a lot of things. A message against caste-based venom, though it almost ended up being one caste-hater movie itself. ‘Mukkabaaz’ also wanted to lecture on sports infrastructure. The director also wanted to lecture the ruling class on the state of things. However, well-intended everything was the movie fell on its jaw at the box office.

Though he did not direct it but his involvement as a maker was clearly reflected in ‘Bhavesh Joshi Super Hero’, where the villain looked remarkably similar and repetitive of the villain we saw in ‘Mukkabaaz’ in fact the most visible weakness of BJSH was in the fact that this movie too was losing its steam post-interval. Let us not even discuss ‘Bombay Velvet’, which came before ‘Udta Punjab’.

The fact that Anurag was maybe low on confidence or was brazenly trying to do something different is when he went into attempting ‘Manmarziyaan’. This was like RGV was directing a movie written by Bhansali. Once again, the media went bonkers on this one. Like an enthusiastic mother would insist that every visitor listens to her son’s kindergarten poem for months. Only the audiences did not find ‘Manmarziyaan’ any better or greater. The box office has spoken.

Anurag might hit back or the Anurag of Wasseypur might never return. Whether you remain his fan or term him overrated remains your call as an audience. For a brief while though there was excitement in the mundane skies of Bollywood.


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