Anurag Kashyap the actor would be a misfit in the universe of Anurag Kashyap the director. (Of course he did cameos in his own films DevD, Gulaal, No Smoking, and Black Friday, but these were blink and miss) The subtle penumbral characters that he directs would not be able to make sense of his hammy, endearing raspiness.
But there is a joy in seeing a director portray a character he would never direct. (I am thinking of Lijo Jose Pellissery in Mayanadhi or Gautham Vasudev Menon in Trance) The same joy when seeing Kashyap ham as an OTT villain or a stereotyped version of himself or what he is rumoured to be.
His cameos gave way to his first full fledged acting credit as a kurta-clad gangster in Tigmanshu Dhulia’s Shagird (2011). Kashyap will next be seen in Ghoomketu. While the shooting of this film was completed in 2014, it remained in limbo due to distribution issues. Zee5 recently acquired and premiered it on their streaming platform. He will also be seen later this year opposite Anil Kapoor in Vikramaditya Motwane’s next film for Netflix AK VS AK. We take this moment to look back at some of the characters he has played over the years.
Luck By Chance (2009)
This was an incredibly memorable cameo performance by Anurag Kashyap as Anurag Kashyap, a frustrated writer who is trying to bring something fresh to the droll Bollywood landscape. His producer played by the late Rishi Kapoor dismisses his suggestions with an iconic dialogue that was improvised on set.
It was what Kapoor actually thought of Kashyap. Kashyap didn’t mind it. His ability to poke fun at his stereotype by becoming it, is testament. He plays a similar cameo in Bhoothnath Returns.
Happy New Year (2014)
Kashyap here is a dance show judge along with Vishal Dadlani. Let that sink in. The awful dance troupe of Shah Rukh Khan, everyone except Deepika Padukone with two left feet, threatens the two of them in order to get selected for the next round. They have a video of Kashyap and Dadlani romancing each other in rani-pink feather boas and hairy unclothed backs (Khan even makes a comment about it). Only in a Farah Khan movie!
The first time we see Kashyap, here playing ACP Govind Rane, he is rolling a pungent joint, in a police car, in his police uniform. “Achha maal hai. Lagta hai South se aaya hai.” His raspy laugh sounds like a chain smoker’s heaving lung.
He is irredeemable evil cloaked in power. He is also so incredibly nonchalant, because the solution to every problem is murder, he knows it, so why fret? It is this sense of easy resolution that would never fit in a Kashyap film that rotates in misery attempting to find conclusions.
Even as the film plummets you hang onto a hammy Kashyap who is clearly having fun with it. There is menace and sleaze that all melts away when he screams like a child in the very end, a knife to his leg. It’s a range that is instantly believable.
Imaikkaa Nodigal (2018)
If Akira was hammy, this is ham-on-steroids. Here, he is a serial killer, Rudra (his fourth villainous character- he also played a child molestor in I Am – out of perhaps 5 big roles. I smell a typecast.). The film, like Akira, rotates around its own harebrained logic, but again like in that film, Kashyap seems to be just running with the brief. It is quite clear that this is not an exercise in craft. He is not creating a villain for the archives. He is just having fun! And to watch him have fun, is so much fun.
Here, Kashyap plays the ineffectual Inspector Badlani (his third full-fledged role as a police officer), a married man with a horseshoe moustache. Eyes lowered, frustrated, not having solved a single case, he is now expected to nab Ghoomketu (Nawazuddin Siddiqui) who ran away from his village to make it big as a writer in Mumbai.
All he knows about him is his name- no photo, no description, no location. Kashyap plays the role with his restrained anger, and hunched shoulders, like a man who has submitted to his own mediocrity. This story isn’t about him, so his exit (sweating, bent over his knees at the train station), like his entrance in the film, is unexciting and unnoticed, exactly like he would have wanted it.