The following is the full transcript of Filmmaker Anurag Kashyap’s TEDx Talk on the making of Black Friday at TEDxESPM.
Anurag Kashyap – Filmmaker
It’s a great honor to be here. It’s my first time, not just in São Paulo, not just in Brazil. It’s my first time in South America. So I don’t know where to start. Hearing everybody talk, mine is a very selfish little story, of my own little struggle.
I guess you all know Bollywood. And Bollywood is this film industry where we make more films than Hollywood does, where in India, there’s almost no literature, there’s a lot of cinema, and we make more than thousand films a year. And we don’t make documentaries, we don’t make anything. We only make fiction, entertainment, love stories, songs and dance.
And I was born in a very small town, which had no cinema theater, and I never thought that I would want to be part of the films or cinema. I was studying to be a scientist, I was studying Zoology, I was studying with honors. And there was a time when I was 18, 19, I was not interested in anything because of the girl that I broke up with. She had left me.
And there was a film festival and I went and saw a lot of films. And I had never seen cinema like that. It opened up my eyes completely, and I for the first time realized cinema is not just love stories and songs and dance. It can be much more. And that’s what I wanted to do. And my family was very unhappy about my choice. I come from a family of engineers and mathematicians. So they said: “Why do you want to go and do cinema?”, because it was an industry back twenty years ago controlled by film families. It was almost like few families controlled the whole industry and they decided what cinema was going to be.
And I was an 18-year-old confused, a complete impressionable boy who one day was a communist, next day would become a capitalist, it depended on who was the one talking to me. So — and I just knew that I wanted to do something with cinema, and I also wanted to be an actor, I also wanted to be a writer, I wanted to be everything. So like happens at the age of 18.
And I left home. I went to Bombay and that was the time where we did not write scripts before making films. And I had these ideas and I was — I would read books that people in the film industry would not read, and I was influenced by people that were considered suicidal because they would not make enough money if you made films, so why then you would make films that wouldn’t make enough money.
To make my space at that young age and industry was very difficult. And slowly what happened was that whole lot of idealism, when you go with that for one year, two years, you slowly realize that you need to survive, you need to eat food, you need to find a place to live. And slowly you give way to — I started doing television, and I forgot why I wanted to make films.
And then, something happened to me out of the blue: My dad came looking for me to Mumbai. I had left home. I’d run away from Mumbai, I had not seen my father. And he got worried and then came looking for me. And my father had this very strange philosophy in life: he never saved anything for the children. In India, in Hindi you say: [Hindi] it means that: “why do you need to save money? If your son is a good son, he’ll make his own. If he’s not, he’ll blow it all away”. So — and he was quite a stubborn man. And he said that: you came here to do something and now everybody at my small town that I come from looks at me and say — laughs at me and smiles at me. So he was such a prodigal child and see what he’s doing. He wants to make cinema. And now you are doing television and you are embarrassing yourself and you are embarrassing me. So at least try to do what you came here to do.
And I went on a journey and I got corrupted by a person — there’s a man I met and we made a film together called Satya, my film as a writer at the age of 22, which became a seminal film of last decade in India. It was my first film as a writer, it had everything about the film was wrong in the sense that, it was about everything you are not supposed to do with cinema. It had no stars, it had a kind of a remote love story, but it was real. It was not shot in studios, it was shot in actual locations. Locations which was slums. It was almost like the, say ‘Pixote’ of India. Or say “The City of God” of India. It was a film that was real, with newcomers and the film that changed a lot of things. And in the process of doing that film over two years when no one believed in the success of that film, kind of corrupted me. I suddenly — I remembered all those things, from which — that domination with which I had gone to Bombay.