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Exclusive! Anurag Kashyap: Animal has galvanised more feminists than many other feminist films

The director was in Kolkata to attend the ongoing Kolkata International Film Festival

Exclusive! Anurag Kashyap: Animal has galvanised more feminists than many other feminist films
Anurag Kashyap/ Instagram

Last Updated: 10.59 PM, Dec 10, 2023


Anurag Kashyap attended the 29th Kolkata International Film Festival with his film Kennedy which was screened on Sunday. Talking about censorship, he said, “I just want to tell stories and make films. I will find my way out. I will navigate through circumstances.” He also explained why he remains unaffected by social media. “I don’t think of social media at all. If I spend my time analysing what is going on, I will waste my time,” he said clearly. In a candid chat with OTTplay, Anurag talked about the challenges of independent filmmakers and why we need a provocateur in society. Read on…

With the success of RRR, Pushpa, etc, Indian cinema has gone beyond just Bollywood. How do you think OTT plays a part in this expansion?

Indian cinema was never restricted to Bollywood. It is just that the world has become more aware of other films. Earlier, outside India, Hindi films used to travel to African countries, the Middle East, Iran, Iraq, Egypt and so on. They still remember Hindi cinema till the ’70s and ’80s. After that, it stopped. The world beyond that only knew Ray and to an extent, Ritwick Ghatak. Now they know more. They know cinema from India. It’s not just about Bollywood. The Bollywood term came much later. OTT has played a major role not just in taking our films to them but also played a big role in bringing their films to us.

How conducive is India for independent filmmakers?

I don’t think there is any problem with India. The business is not very conducive in India. Films are being made but they are not released. This is not an India-specific problem. It is across the world. Films that are screened at the Sundance Film Festival, Cannes, etc don’t always get theatrical releases. It is a problem. Right now things are controlled by big business houses. So they only want blockbusters. Like Marvel. Now that Marvel has also started failing, maybe they will open up to independent films.

How conducive is India for liberal filmmakers?

Everything will always coexist. I feel as a filmmaker when I make a film, I will have to find my way to say what I want to say and how I say it. I always say that it is a global problem… It is very difficult to speak up politically – everywhere. Look at Hollywood na… So many actors have been dropped from the film because they were pro-Palestine. But people are still making films, people are still taking a stand, and people are fighting for their stands. There will be their opposition also. Ideas will coexist. Freedom of speech is not just for us. It’s for everyone. It’s for ‘them’ (who don’t agree with us) also. If you have a problem with that, get into a dialogue.

There has also been a rise in propaganda films. Films like The Kashmir Files and Kerala Story are often termed as one-sided and biased…

I don’t believe in any kind of censorship. We speak from a position of awareness and education. When I say I am a feminist, I have the privilege of people teaching me what feminism means and why one should be. If some other people haven’t learnt that, you cannot say that they don’t have the right to exist or the right to speak. I think it is very important to engage in dialogues. I can be receptive when someone is engaging in a dialogue with me. I came from the same patriarchal, misogynistic world of UP. Education made me more receptive. So somebody took the step to engage in a dialogue with me to make me understand. Likewise, when you disagree with a film, get into a dialogue with them, Like Sudhir Mishra did. He engaged in a dialogue with Vivek Agnihotri. This is what is the need of the hour. I am saying it is very easy to judge, dismiss, and cancel people. Cancelling people is more problematic than making these films.

Animal has becomes a major hit. According to many people, the film glorifies misogyny. The film became a box office success and questions the responsibility of the audience…

You cannot force responsibility on anyone. People take responsibility for themselves or they don’t. How many people went and watched a film that you considered to be feminist? Only a handful of people watch them and underline if it was a real feminist film or a pseudo-feminist film. A film like Animal has galvanised more feminists in this country than any other feminist film. It has created more discussion around misogyny than any other film. So it is doing something good. You need a provocateur in a society for people to understand. More people were taught feminism because of Animal and the discussions around it. Why are you scared of a provocateur? We are educated and learned people. Why are we afraid of someone who provokes us? I think being provoked is a good thing. I have always tried to make films to make people uncomfortable as a filmmaker. When I made Ugly I wanted people to go back and not sleep that night.

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