Posted: 12 May 2015 at 2:00am | IP Logged
With the highly anticipated Bombay Velvet nearing a release, Anurag Kashyap had a sit down with Mihir Fadnavis to talk about the film, its origins, the struggle to put it together, and the differences between making small and big budget films:
Q: Were Ranbir and Anushka your first choices? After watching the film it seemed like no one else seemed fit for the role.
Anurag Kashyap: Back when we first wrote the film in 2006 there were no Ranbir or Anushka, we had Saif and Kareena in mind. From Saif it moved to Aamir who wanted a bigger star, so we approached Katrina. It later went to Hrithik. I never had Ranbir in my mind because he has always had this urban image. But I suddenly got a call from Ranbir one day and I needed time to understand him, so I thought about this when I made Ugly. He in turn got into boxing and training, began working with the writer Vasan Bala on the language and lingo, and slowly I became comfortable with casting him.
Q: What has the experience been like to jump from smaller budget to a big budget film? What's the biggest difference?
AK: A big film has more democracy in the edit room than a small film. A small film will be completely yours. A big film has to go through a lot of process of simplifying it, to have a wider reach, having a U/A certificate etc. The higher the stakes, the lesser the freedom. Although I have had more freedom as compared to other filmmakers who shifted from small to big. On the other hand, the general bigger budget filmmakers are more free, because they are very clear about catering to the larger masses. With me there is a lot of confusion and vagueness, whether I'm trying to reach out or I'm trying to cater to the niche - so in that way I'm under a lot more scrutiny than most people.
Q: Since you said the film was made more mainstream and simplified, was the original script more complex than the finished version?
AK: The idea was much more complicated. Originally it had a lot to do with the land, and the politics of the land. It was like a Francesco Rosi film made with the budget of a Spielberg film, which was not feasible at all. So we had to find the right balance somewhere without losing the essence of the idea. We had to fictionalize the story and decide what to retain and what not to, and ultimately make a film that leaves hints and provokes discussions.
Q: What was your aim in telling a love story that is different from what has been done before?
AK: We were trying to evoke a time period, trying to set up the backdrop of a city that essentially tells the love story, and not a love story where two people fall in love, but you see the love coming out in the given circumstance. The whole love story is encapsulated in one love song (
Q: What is the biggest challenge of making a period film?
AK: Normally when you want to create a historical film you need empty bare land, and you can create the world. The biggest challenge is how to create a city that existed. You can create a period at a small town or a village, like I did in Wasseypur, but creating a period film in a city is vastly expansive and oppressive in a way because how do you make the audience believe that? Some of the buildings of South Bombay in the film were recreated in real size, it was not just difficult but almost impossible.
Q: This detailing and recreation is achieved more with sets or with CGI?
AK: Together actually. Most of the buildings in the film are four storeys, but for the production we built only one floor against which we see the characters passing. And over that was green screen, and we built a CGI layer on top of that for the other three storeys. Plus there were physical costumes and physical cars and many more elements. And all this takes generally 150-200 days, but we only had only 75 days to do all this.
Q: Is it tough to work with VFX compared to fully physical sets?
AK: It's very time consuming. With VFX either you have time or you have money. Because we didn't have a lot of money we had to give time, which is why the film was delayed. CGI can be done very well, it's just that you have to have a hawk eye. We had to redo most VFX shots so many times, we had to keep correcting them to make them better and more believable and real. Sometimes the shots looked 2D and not 3D enough so I would ask for changes constantly. Close to 90 shots were put together for one particular scene, it was very painful.
Q: The pain was totally worth it, the film looks beautiful. How did you go about referencing the CGI? And will we get some sort of behind the scenes clips?
AK: We would take old photos and give it to the CG team (Prana) and just tell them we need to build old Bombay like this. We're actually working on special bonus content on the Blu Ray release where the CGI work would be shown. You can see the actors performing in the green screens sets. It's fun.
(Bombay Velvet is scheduled to release on May 15)