All posts tagged: Anurag Kashyap

UGLY (Anurag Kashyap, 2013, India)

Director Anurag Kashyap really knows how to cast his films, finding actors (rather than working with stars) with the right level of anxiety in their faces, inculcating a strange volatility in the audience. Ugly could almost be a companion piece to Peddlers, a film produced by Kashyap and which is stuck in distribution hell with Eros. Both films are vicious tales about the city and its contemporary, hollow middle class inhabitants. Kashyap’s depiction of their psychology borders on derision, but the narrative meanders and gets caught up in the trap of trying to make all the pieces fit together especially towards the end. The story revolves around the kidnapping of a 10 year old girl but this becomes merely a device for Kashyap with which to get beneath the sordid milieu. A central métier is Kashyap’s inborn penchant for characterisation, assembling a vestige of stereotypes: the struggling actor, the depressed housewife, the desperate casting director and the embittered police chief, totaling a cesspool of monstrosity and urban depravity. Kashyap is right to take the position that …

THAT GIRL IN YELLOW BOOTS (Dir. Anurag Kashyap, 2010, India)

Kalki Koechlin’s rise has been somewhat meteoric and deservedly so in many respects. She is a fine actress and her 2010 collaboration with husband-director Anurag Kashyap on That Girl in Yellow Boots (the title refers to the yellow Doc Martins worn by Koechlin) suggests she will inevitable shift into filmmaking. Koechlin wrote the screenplay with Kashyap and she is also the main lead. The story involves Ruth Edscer (Koechlin) who comes to India in search of her father who abandoned her in England a long time ago. Ruth finds work in a massage parlour to supplement her obsessive attempts to track down her father. For a film that was shot in just 13 days, the end product is exceptional and much of the iconoclastic spirit generated by the film is largely down to Kashyap’s ability to improvise with both locations and narrative. Many of Kashyap’s films including Satya (for which he wrote the screenplay), Dev D, No Smoking, Black Friday and Gulaal have a strong visual style that comes directly out of the topography of …

LOOTERA / ROBBER (Dir. Vikramaditya Motwane, 2013, India) – Paper Flowers

Lootera is in fact more of a testament to Bengali cinema than anything else. It is more Bengali than Indian and as a period melodrama the film arguably comes close to being excluded from mainstream Hindi cinema. The narrative takes inspiration from a short story titled ‘The Last Leaf’ by O. Henry. I have not read the short so it is difficult for me to comment on the relationship between the film and text so I’m not going to focus on this particular area and instead consider the various links and cinematic allusions made by the film to the riches of Bengali cinema. Before I continue, it may be useful to briefly outline the story and key characters. The main story is effectively a romance between archaeologist Varun (Ranveer Singh) and Pakhi (Sonaskshi Sinha), the daughter of a wealthy, decadent zamindar. Varun and Pakhi’s romance is blighted by wider social forces including the introduction of a zamindari act (which forces zamindar’s to hand over much of their estate to the government) and a rising resentment …

PEDDLERS (Dir. Vasan Bala, 2012, India) – City of Ghosts

Vasan Bala’s directorial debut premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in 2012 when Indian independent cinema was finally receiving the notice it merited transnationally. No one quite knows what happened to Peddlers in terms of finding distribution in both India and internationally. This remains a mystery yet points to one of the reasons why New Indian Cinema has not been embraced internationally; many of the key films have only just made it to the festival circuit and not reached cinema audiences. Peddlers is indubitably a crucial film in the fruition of the New Indian Cinema movement and the missing part of a filmic jigsaw puzzle helping to elucidate the iconoclastic intents of a young generation of bold Indian filmmakers. This is a very dark, very grim and very pitiless odyssey through a ghostly Mumbai populated by dreamers, outcasts and loners. Prior to directing Peddlers Bala assisted Anurag Kashyap and Michael Winterbottom (Trishna), which undoubtedly forged a healthy cinematic sensibility. The narrative of Peddlers rotates around four characters; Ranjit, a Narcotics cop, Mandar, a middle class …