Frank Masterclass at Toronto South Asian Festival

Celebrated Indian filmmaker Anurag Kashyap was in vintage free, frank and forthright form at a masterclass in Toronto on Sunday.

“I have a massive problem with authority and authority has problems with me,” was one of the many nuggets from Kashyap, whose very first film “Paanch” (2003) was banned in India and whose subsequent work has been the subject of domestic scrutiny while being celebrated both at home and globally.

Kashyap’s cop noir “Kennedy,” which had its world premiere at Cannes earlier this year, is on an extended festival run. It opened the 12th edition of BMO International Film Festival of South Asia (IFFSA), where he delivered the masterclass. Kashyap was in conversation with festival patron, acclaimed filmmaker Anup Singh (“The Song of Scorpions”). Unlike masterclasses that look back at the filmmaker’s oeuvre, Singh chose instead to look at the broad themes that have informed Kashyap’s work over the years that include “Gangs of Wasseypur” (2012), “Dev.D” (2009) and Netflix series “Sacred Games” (2018).

Among the facts that emerged during the masterclass was that all characters in the Kashyap universe are derived from real people. “I don’t think till date I have ever written a character, which is stemming from my imagination – every single one is based on a real person,” Kashyap said.

The filmmaker also addressed his experiences on working with studios and stars. “The difficulty I have faced working with big stars is their vanity – more than the stars or their vanity is the studios’ expectation of their vanity. My biggest enemy is not the stars, it’s the studios,” Kashyap said, adding that the studios’ focus is always on the money aspect of things. When studios ask him for script changes, Kashyap said that he lies to them that he’s doing it and then doesn’t. On the other hand, he is conscious of budgets and tries to ensure that studios don’t lose money, he said.

Kashyap was all praise for “Kennedy” producer Zee Studios, saying that the blockbuster success of their films like “The Kashmir Files” and “Gadar 2” enabled them to produce films like “Kennedy.”

Stars who have done “the riskiest films” with him have declined roles five years later because they may not be suitable for family audiences, Kashyap added.

Kashyap revealed that his process is to just write full scripts and then edit them later, rather than go through a development period and the standard practice of synopses and director’s notes.

On what keeps him going, Kashyap said, “I want to be curious, I want to be excited, I want to be engaged. I don’t want to get bored.”

Separately, Singh conducted a panel discussion on the world of “Kennedy,” featuring Kashyap and the lead cast Rahul Bhat and Sunny Leone, at the festival.

IFFSA runs Oct. 12-22.

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