Anurag Kashyap, the man behind gritty dramas exploring the dark worlds of criminals and gangsters, said that he has learnt that the way to an Indian cine goer's heart is through a love story. But in true Kashyap style, his first love story, the upcoming Mukkabaaz, blurs cinematic genres with a romance that unfolds in a society dominated by caste, politics and religion.
"I have learnt that in India whatever you have to say, say it through a love story. This is what people understand. This is my first full love story," Kashyap said.
The film, starring Vineet Kumar Singh and Zoya Hussain, has been receiving praise even before its release later this month.
In the drama set in Bareilly, Vineet plays a Kshatriya wrestler who falls in love with a deaf-mute Brahmin woman.
This angers her uncle (Jimmy Sheirgill) who uses his position as the head of the state boxing federation to sabotage his career.
Discussing the widely held perception that he is at his best when dealing with sociopolitical issues and that his films reflect simmering anger, the director said cinema allows him the space to react to things that bother him.
"What people call my anger is my reaction. Luckily, I have the medium to react through cinema. People want to react but they can't. This is why they connect with my films. It connects on a larger scale," he said.
The director of films such as Dev D, Gangs of Wasseypur and Ugly, quipped that the films he made as a cinema lover could only be understood by cinephiles.
Coming from Uttar Pradesh, Kashyap said he understands the milieu, its societal nuances and how caste casts a large shadow on day-to-day life.
"It is deeply ingrained in us. It will not go. In UP, they ask your name to know your caste and the next question is 'what is your gotra'?" he said.
The protagonists in his latest film are on similar levels on the caste ladder but the differences persist.
"In Haryana, marrying in the same gotra is reason enough for honour-killing. The upper-caste versus lower-caste issue is different with the whole dynamic of the oppressor and the oppressed. Here, the friction is between two similar castes," he said.
The director believes these differences have to do with the human nature of seeking comfort in familiarity and resistance to change.
According to Kashyap, caste operates in the same way as religion. "It has to do with the sense of security. This is why we create ghettos. The Indians who live abroad, they have created a little India, Pakistanis a little Pakistan, Chinese a Chinatown. When you feel threatened, you seek familiarity and
"This is what religion does, it gives a sense of security. It is difficult for a man to stand up and say perhaps I did not have it in me to succeed. It is easier to say that it was God's wish and we are caught in this loop," he said.
Kashyap's Mukkabaaz is going to be different from the regular sports film. Referring to the trend of sports films, particularly biopics, he said it was impossible today to make a biopic without nationalism.
"If this is not selling nationalism then what is it? These things bother me. Virat Kohli and Anushka Sharma got married in Italy, so a leader stands up and says it is unpatriotic," he said.
"Then there are those who flaunt their nationalism as a badge. They have done nothing in their life and just want to stay in the news," Kashyap added.
The movie, also starring Ravi Kishan, is set to release on January 12.
(With PTI Inputs)