Battling all hurdles

Battling all hurdles

New-age filmmaker

Battling all hurdles

Meet Anurag Basu, famed filmmaker who battled cancer and death to come back to his first love — films. Basu is in the news these days for his latest movie Kites starring Hrithik Roshan and Barbara Mori. Ironically, like Basu, the sensuous Barbara Mori also suffers from cancer.

“I came to know about Barabara’s illness long after we started making the film. It was a strange coincidence. Both of us had cancer and fought back. We never discussed the disease but our respect for each other went up since we knew how difficult it is to cope with such a situation,” says Basu, the director of films such as Murder, Life in A Metro and Gangster.

Basu began his career in the television industry in the 90s and directed some of the most popular Indian serials (Tara, Koshish Ek Aasha, Miit, Saturday Suspense and Love Story). He waited for nearly a decade before venturing into films, Kucch To Hai being his debut film. The Tusshar Kapoor, Esha Deol and Anita Hasnandani starrer released in 2003, but did not do well commercially.

But that did not stop the ever-optimist Basu from joining the Mahesh Bhatt camp and doing four movies for them. Saaya, his next film with John Abraham and Tara Sharma, also sank without a trace. But it was his third — Murder — which gave him the much-needed foothold in the industry.

Says Basu, “When I make a film, I have a motto in mind that it should be better than my last film. When I see the rushes and realise that it is better than my last, I think the joy can only be compared with the feeling I had when I got married, and became a father for the first time.”

How ‘Kites’ flew
So how did he feel after seeing the rushes of Kites? Was it better than his earlier films? “Let me tell you the entire story of how Kites happened. That will help you understand how satisfying an experience it was to make Kites and how happy I was,” says Basu, sitting up and coming forward to the edge of his chair in a posh hotel in Mumbai.
“When Gangster was released Rakesh ji (Roshan) did not watch it for a year as he thought it was a B-grade film. But once he watched it, he liked it immensely, particularly the screenplay and direction,” says Basu. “He asked me if I have anything specific for Duggu (Hrithik Roshan) and after talking to him for a while, I realised that he wanted me to write something for his son and also direct the film,” he continues.
After a discussion, senior Roshan gave Basu the idea of Kites and he started developing the script. “I took some time because I was doing Metro then. I wrote the first draft and showed it to him. He was excited and gave me the green signal. Half my battle was won. This was a completely different genre for Rakesh ji. We had loads of arguments during the script-reading sessions and it helped me improve immensely because prior to Kites, no one had ever questioned me about my scripts,” explains Basu.

The director feels that it was these democratic discussions between them that really polished the script and gave Kites the finesse it has today.
But how was his rapport with Hrithik Roshan? Did he throw any starry tantrums? “None! I never felt that I was working with superstar Hrithik Roshan. We have a great rapport. I had heard about how finicky and professional he is. But we had a great time shooting for Kites. I used to tell Duggu (Hrithik) to stop watching the video assist after his shot because that would hamper his performance. He totally stopped that,” responds Basu.
He narrates a related incident to prove his excellent rapport with Hrithik. “One day he was dancing in the film and requested me to watch him in the video. I had completely forgotten that I had asked him not to watch the video assist. When I remembered, I was moved and gave him the go-ahead to watch it himself! He is a very obedient and honest actor.”

What about the latest controversy about completely dropping Kangana Ranaut from the promos? Basu explains, “When we were doing the casting of Kites, I was very sure that we wanted a new girl for this role. I never thought of taking a known actress. So when Kangana asked me about the role, I told her that it’s a small one. But she wanted to do it anyway, even if it’s a guest appearance. Also, if we show too much of Kangana in the promos, the audience might think that Kites is about the love triangle between Kangana, Barbara and Hrithik. That is why she does not feature in the promos.” He adds, “Kangana is a dear friend and I will cast her in my next film.” Basu concludes that his next film will have Barbara Mori and that she is quite charged about the script.