Mukkabaaz will see Anurag Kashyap finally checking an unlikely box — that of a love story

Gautam Chintamani

January 10, 2018 10:50:56 IST

Best known for films that, in his own words, “violate a person’s sense of being”, Anurag Kashyap’s upcoming Mukkabaaz will see him finally checking an unlikely box – that of a love story.

Strange as it may sound to many, Mukkabaaz — the story of a Kshatriya wrestler (Vineet Kumar Singh), who falls in love with a deaf-mute Brahmin woman (Zoya Hussain) and has to endure the wrath of her uncle (Jimmy Sheirgill), the head of the state boxing federation who uses his position to sabotage his career — is according to the filmmaker his “first full love story.”

Vineet Singh in Mukkabaaz.

Among the younger, or better still, contemporary Hindi filmmakers, not only is Anurag Kashyap one of the most talked about but also the most prolific in terms of body of work. In the last decade and a half since he transitioned from a writer to a director, Kashyap has directed 13 films, acted in a handful and has also been associated with some of Hindi cinema’s most significant developments as a producer (UdaanShahidThe LunchboxQueenMasaan to name a few).

Even before his debut as a director with Paanch, a film that was doomed to be stuck in Censor hell for many years, Kashyap was a brand unto himself. He was a celebrated writer thanks to the success of Ram Gopal Varma’s Satya (1998), and the two films that followed – Kaun? (1999) Shool (1999) — not only strengthened his aura as a screenwriter but also presented to the world, a rock star writer like the revered duo, Salim Khan and Javed Akhtar.

It was hardly surprising then that Kashyap’s directorial debut was nothing less than an event that many in this film fanatic nation were holding their breath for. Even after the delay in Paanch and the news of films like Alwyn Kalicharan that was to feature Anil Kapoor falling flat, Kashyap was not treated like a rank newcomer, at least by the film viewing public. He may have undergone a great deal of angst due to the delay of Paanch and the legal tussle that his next film Black Friday had to undergo as the case verdict of the Bombay serial blasts on which the film was based was yet to be delivered, but that only elevated his striving true artist image.

Anurag Kashyap. Image from Facebook/@AnuragK2.0

Anurag Kashyap. Image from Facebook/@AnuragK2.0

It would be three long years before Kashyap finally made another film and although he kept himself busy as a writer in the interim, it was clearly not something that he wouldn’t have readily traded. One reason to gauge Kashyap’s heart not being in the writing work he did between Black Friday and No Smoking is the manner in which he often disassociated himself with the final product be it Jhoom Barabar JhoomDeepa Mehta’s WaterMani Ratnam’s Guru and in fact, he even publically apologised for Shakalaka Boom Boom.

Everything transformed for Kashyap with Dev D (2009), an adaptation of the tragedy of Devdas, and things were never the same again.

Irrespective of what category a filmmaker finds themselves in there is nothing that compares to the commercial success of a film and this is precisely what Dev D managed to do for Kashyap. With Dev D the tag of a controversial filmmaker or someone who could have been seen as difficult became pointless. He might have been a much sought-after writer, and could easily associate across the spectrum of filmmakers with equal gusto, but for the trade, it’s only the commercial feasibility that matters.

Dev D. also gave Kashyap the freedom to pick projects and jump between genres but most importantly it allowed him to put his weight behind people or stories that he had faith in. Perhaps films such asUdaan, Aiyyaa, Shahid might have taken longer to become realities had Kashyap not been around. Taking a leaf from Ram Gopal Varma, his mentor in some way, Kashyap, depending on how you looked, donned the hat of the financier or producer or the elder brother who could push younger talent and back their vision; Masaan and Monsoon Shootout are two such examples.

It’s Anurag Kashyap’s penchant for being an immersive filmmaker that he finds himself at the center of anything that is, for the lack of a better term, somewhat new and intriguing in films in India.

Even if he is not directly associated with something like a Bombay Talkies (a series of short films made for the Cannes Film Festival) or producing a film such as Queen, which one wouldn’t ideally associate with him, he is linked with say a Yudh, which was Amitabh Bachchan’s maiden TV series, or talks about other films be it TamilKannada, or Marathi to the point of promoting them as his own.

The one big trouble with Kashyap is that despite jumping across genres he largely operates within the same landscape.

Many years ago, Kashyap mentioned that Pooja Bhatt had asked him to write a love story for her but when he narrated it to her she said that she had never come across a love story like that. One could argue that most auteurs have to deal with the possibility of their meta-universe throwing up the same reality and in that sense Kashyap is no different.

Perhaps Kashyap sees the same bleakness in everything or seeks the same joy every time he ventures out and who knows had he not botched up (there is no other way of putting this) Bombay Velvet, Kashyap could have ushered in a new phase.

Maybe we will finally see Kashyap 2.0 with Manmarziyan, his next with Aanand L. Rai as producer. The film has already undergone many changes and the off-screen drama seems to be far more exciting as of now, which, needless to say, is tailor-made for Kashyap. After all, no amount of off-screen drama could compete with what his mind is capable of.

Updated Date: Jan 10, 2018 10:56 AM