Anurag Kashyap and Kalki Koechlin On Failure, Heartbreak And How They Turn It Into Art

On episode 4 of TapeCast (presented by Grey Goose) the two artistes and former partners talk about personal highs and lows, and a life in the movies
Anurag Kashyap and Kalki Koechlin On Failure, Heartbreak And How They Turn It Into Art

Tape: Anurag, you have gone through so much with so many of your films. Your first film Paanch never released, Black Friday was stalled for years. I remember reading that you were heading to the premiere in a new suit and you got a call saying the film had been stalled yet again. You said you went back into the room and didn't come out for three whole months. But eventually, how did you learn in the words of Carrie Fisher to take your broken heart and make it into art.

Anurag Kashyap: I don't think I've known any other way. I just put everything into my film. I think all my angst just finds its way into my work. I've been like that since I was born. Only thing I learned from Paanch and Black Friday is to stop waiting. That whole thing of wanting to show to people that see what a filmmaker I am and what I have to say went away with Paanch never releasing and Black Friday forever being in the loop. I think now when I finish a film, I just deliver it and start on my next and I find fresh things to say. But the problem comes around release time when there are interviews and people ask you questions.

Kalki Koechlin: Yeah. I just went through that.

Anurag Kashyap: And then they'll provoke you and break you and before the film comes out, you have a headline.

Kalki Koechlin: In a lot of my interviews I get asked – So how did you manage after divorcing Anurag? Like how are you managing as a single person? Like it's like wow. What a strange thing to think a person can live after divorce without dying, or going in a hole in shame.

Anurag Kashyap: All these people who ask all these question, I think that when they talk about misogyny, they should begin by admitting they are misogynists themselves.

Kalki Koechlin: The other question is always about a catfight between me and Richa (Chadha) because we did a film together. Catfights is such a 90s question. Come on guys, we're so over that now. Nobody has catfights anymore.

Anurag Kashyap: It takes time to grow up. I think questions should come after the work comes out. Then it makes more sense.

Tape: I have a surprise for you – A question from Richa Chadha. She asks – What do you consider the biggest personal victory?

Kalki Koechlin: That I can live with myself. Yeah I think at the end of the day we're born alone, we die alone, we better be comfortable with ourselves and who we are.

Anurag Kashyap: No you had lots of personal victories.

Kalki Koechlin: Yeah, but this is my biggest. I think all my life I've emotionally been very vulnerable and I've always seeked out a support in a strong man or someone. I think the last few years for me has really been about finding that support in myself and not being dependent on one other person. I actually enjoy coming back to my own space. Coming back to my alone time every once in a while when things get too much. It's really important for me.

Anurag Kashyap: It also shows in a lot of your poetry.

Tape: Anurag, Piyush Mishra has said you are married to cinema. He said that Vishal Bhardwaj is an organized person, but you're a self-destructive person. Until you destroy yourself, you cannot create something. Is this true?

Kalki Koechlin: Oh great.

Anurag Kashyap: What do you say to that?

Kalki Koechlin: What can I say? I don't know if I agree with him. You don't have to destroy yourself. What do you think?

Anurag Kashyap: I don't know. Me and Piyush have had a lot of discussions and arguments about a lot of things and he actually believes it. But I don't think so. I think everything I go through or grapple with, I put it in my movie. That I often do. My films change midway if  I'm going through a life change.

Kalki Koechlin: That's very true.

Anurag Kashyap: The ending of Dev D change while we were shooting. The script was not written as a happy ending. Vikram Motwane was like you have destroyed the film.

Kalki Koechlin: In your own life, do you feel if you don't have drama, you create it?

Anurag Kashyap: No I don't. I know I don't create drama but many a times I really feel that my way of dealing with things is put in the movie. Like No Smoking was my way of dealing with all the bans and censorships. I just put it all out there. But I don't think I destroy myself to create. Yes, I'm not organized at all.

Kalki Koechlin: No, you're sorted when you're on a film set. You know absolutely what you're doing. Yeah it's chaotic but you manage it very beautifully. And you have a great sense of spontaneity and you just make things happen. Even when they're going wrong you didn't use it for the best of the scene and stuff. But I'm wondering if that sense of belonging that you feel on a film set, when you come back to life or reality, you still live in your head and how much,

Anurag Kashyap: I live a lot in my head and I'm more at home on the film set, at the festivals, in the movie world.

Kalki Koechlin: Right, so it's like that has become your reality.

Anurag Kashyap: That often clashes with my actual reality. That's the conflict that I get into a lot. When I'm travelling for festivals, I'm going from movie to movie but somehow that has literally become my safe place.

Kalki Koechlin: I think when Piyush or me or anyone of those who love you have like said statements like he destroys himself, it's not that you want to destroy yourself. But you live for that reality and for that world and so we feel like we're just characters in your film.

Anurag Kashyap: That's the drama. It's not like that. I think that's my way of surviving. My way of dealing with things is

Kalki  Koechlin: Like how I need the aloneness with myself, that's your way of surviving.

Anurag Kashyap: When everything is going fine, that's when I don't know what to do. A lot of my friends, actually all of my friends, tell me you should not be given budgets to make movies because when I'm given one, I don't know what to do with it. When I'm given nothing, I actually create.

Tape: What exactly is your creative process? Are you an instinctive actor or do you prefer to come well prepared? When do you find the time to write?

Anurag Kashyap: There's a lot more to your creativity than your writing and acting. I know you are a charcoal artist, you do sketching, and so many more.

Kalki Koechlin: Yeah, I can't keep still for very long. I need to be doing something or the other.

Anurag Kashyap: I remember during Margarita with a Straw you were constantly on a wheelchair. I had to carry you down and carry you up.

Kalki Koechlin: I prefer doing that. Thanks by the way for carrying me to the loo and carrying me to the bed.

Anurag Kashyap: I remember you refused to get up.

Kalki Koechlin: Such a good life that was! Yeah, so I like to prep. I love to get into it and research it. I think I'm a geek like that. I love reading books and finding about a character.

Anurag Kashyap: I remember another preparation that you did which was harder than Margarita with a Straw. That Yeh Jawani Hai Deewani dance that you just could not get right!

Kalki Koechlin: Yeah. It's not my strength for sure. And what's the second part of the question?

Anurag Kashyap: What motivates you to write or how do you find time to write?

Kalki Koechlin: I don't find time to write. I find it's the most difficult. Unemployment motivates me to write.

Anurag Kashyap: But you're very articulate about things when you write poetry.

Kalki Koechlin: But there's no inspiration without a deadline. So what I do is commit to something. Like last month there was a spoken word festival in Mumbai, so I committed to it. They advertised it and put my name out. I hadn't  got anything down till like 15 days before the show, and I was damn stressed. I was like I can never write again, I have no talent and then it came at the last minute – this piece on fairy tales. So I don't think I'm a disciplined writer or I don't call myself a writer because I don't think I do it as a daily exercise. But I do love it and the only way for me to do it is to push myself.

Tape: Anurag, have the two failed marriages led you to become a better man?

Kalki Koechlin: Simple questions are the best.

Anurag Kashyap: I don't think I was a bad man. Well, I have learned so much more. Marriage is a lot of commitment. You have to make an effort to make it work. I wish everything was organic that you know you people come together and it works out. But yeah, it's a lot of work. It's also scary. I don't know what is the question.

Kalki Koechlin: Have the two marriages, failed marriages helped you become a better person?

Anurag Kashyap: Yes, I think I've become. I think I've become more understanding, more tolerant, I take and give more space. I know that when you're dealing with a whole lot of things outside, you don't have to bring it home.

Kalki Koechlin: But everyone has to learn from every failed thing in life. You have to learn and evolve.

Anurag Kashyap: You definitely will learn from every failure. I have understood the importance of taking holidays so much more.

Kalki Koechlin: You look also healthier and happier than before.

Anurag Kashyap: Yeah I am. I've learnt the importance of exercising, staying healthy, eating right. Everything doesn't have to be cinema. Everything is still cinema but it's like I don't sleep with it in my bed anymore. I'm a better person. I'm a more livable person.

Kalki Koechlin: I think you were always a great person. I think you have a heart of gold.

Anurag Kashyap: I have my problems. I think I know I have my problems, I was lazy. I was very lazy. I would come home and just sleep. I think outside of cinema I didn't know how to do conversations, which I'm getting better at probably.

Kalki Koechlin: I think you were quite talkative in the beginning.

Anurag Kashyap: In the beginning yeah. I don't know how to answer that question because…

Kalki Koechlin: You've answered it.

Catch the full episode here:

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