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We've destroyed this city: Anurag Kashyap

Filmmaker speaks on the Bombay that once existed and his upcoming film 'Bombay Velvet' based on the city

He looks tanned and thinner now. In Sri Lanka to shoot on the sprawling and dreamy sets of his forthcoming film, 'Bombay Velvet', Anurag Kashyap is upbeat about his first ‘proper’ commercial film.

Anurag Kashyap

With a budget of close to R80 crore, Kashyap is confident that his film will win people over. In a candid chat, the 41-year-old reveals, among other things, what prompted him to make this film...

What was the biggest challenge for Bombay Velvet?
Recreating the world in which jazz and Bombay co-existed. Shooting-wise, I’m a minimalist — I don’t spend much on sets. So if you give me Rs 5 crore, I’ll make a film that looks as though it cost Rs 15 crore to make. But what happens when I get an amount so big that I’m not used to it? Well, I have tried to make a film that looks like it took up Rs 200 crore. And that’s a challenge in itself.

Would it be correct to say that jazz is extinct in Mumbai?
It almost disappeared by the mid-’70s, but it never went away completely. Did you know Mohammed Rafi was a jazz singer who sang in Konkani before his big break in Bollywood? And if you observe closely, Hindi film music in that era was certainly influenced by jazz. A music lover will always find influences, the way I did.

What prompted you to make this film?
The story, of course. But also because I hate to see a beautiful city transform into something unappealing. Every now and then, we come across a beautiful old building that is pulled down, only to be replaced by a monstrosity. We’ve basically destroyed a city and my film is about the phase when greed began to take over. Bombay Velvet is basically about a city that is filled with vice.

Ranbir Kapoor has never done a full-fledged action role before. But in this film, he plays a boxer.
With his rigorous training and the number of bruises he earned in the process, he’s almost like a real boxer now. There was a point when his mother (Neetu Singh) told me that she could no longer see her son get beaten up in the ring. But that’s Ranbir — he gives his all to the character.

Is it true that Ranveer Singh was your first choice?
No. Aamir (Khan) initially had the script but he got busy with other things. Besides, the project was getting too expensive and I started looking for a younger face in the meantime. So we went to Ranveer Singh, but we were getting a funding of just R30-40 crore at that time. Fortunately, Ranbir loved the script right away and agreed to come on board. This sorted out a lot of things on the financial front. Things become smoother from that moment onwards. That’s when I felt this film would finally shape up my way.

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