Anurag Kashyap has not only brought the necessary change in Hindi cinema but also gave it a new identity that we could be proud of. He is one of the faces of the new wave in Indian cinema along with Ram Gopal Verma, Vishal Bhardwaj, Dibaker Banerjee, and Tigmanshu Dhulia. Anurag Kashyap delivered some of the best Bollywood movies of this century. Anurag is perhaps the only modern-day director in India who makes realistic films with high entertainment value.
Anurag Kashyap movies are known for their Tarantino-Esque violence and humor. It is the ability to make people laugh during the bloodiest of scenes is something Kashyap has mastered over the years. Anurag Kashyap has tried his hands in acting as well. His recent performance in the Tamil movie ‘Imaikkaa Nodigal‘ directed by R. Ajay Gnanamuthu has been raved by critics and audiences alike. As Anurag Kashyap turns a year older and wiser, we have ranked his films from the least likable to his best:
15. Return of Hanuman (2007)
As Kashyap sat down to roll a blunt with the best possible hash available, someone told him to make a film for kids. Lazing around he goes through children’s channels as he sees the newest sensation, i.e The Hanuman. He takes a piece of paper laying around, looks around for a pen before borrowing one, and writes down his own playful version of the so-called desi-superhuman.
His characters are cheekier than Kanti Shah’s Gunda, where Hanuman can easily manipulate ‘Prabhu’, a chimp who is deliberately made to sound like Shah Rukh and some more unearthly characters who refer to gods and their sleeping habits. Return Of Hanuman is a totally bonkers film and to be completely honest, it’s a mess. But why not smoke some doobies and have fun?
14. Bombay Velvet (2015)
Bombay Velvet is a wreck, but it is a wreck of Titanic. Even the worst movie by Anurag Kashyap is alluring to an extent. In his ambition of creating Scrupulous Jazzy Bombay, AK has overlooked the most important aspect of a movie- story. While his command over the camera is splendid, his mastery over storytelling is severely jolted here.
Set in the sixties era, Bombay Velvet is a noirish gangster drama. Johnny Balraj (Ranbir Kapoor), a street scamp dreams of becoming BIG SHOT while watching The Roaring Twenties. His infatuation for Rosie (Anushka Sharma) stirs a war between two powerful political ideologies. Khambatta (Karan Johar), a crooked man with power builds an establishment called “Bombay Velvet”, where funky jazz plays on stage only to conceal screams at the back door. The growing ambition of Johnny turns him against his own patron Khambatta.
With Bombay Velvet, Anurag Kashyap has proved that sometimes standing in the arena is all that matters, applause and aspersions are secondary.
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13. That Girl in Yellow Boots (2010)
Sometimes the darkest secrets hide in plain sight. Anurag Kashyap’s That Girl In Yellow Boots was the story of Ruth, a girl searching for her long-lost father. The boots were a metaphor to struggle and survival. The yellow refers to the shadiness her job (a shadier massage parlour) has brought upon her life. smo She gives ‘handshakes’ as she finds it hard to get a work permit along the endless lines of paperwork she has to file. “I love India,” she says so that her struggles along those visa offices comes to an end, only, it doesn’t.
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The conclusion of Ruth’s tale will leave you speechless. It made me respect Anurag Kashyap and Kalki (who also co-wrote the film) for having balls made of steel. Only people like them can have the audacity to go through a film that wouldn’t be appreciated by everyone. The climax of That Girl In Yellow Boots reminds you of the Korean thriller ‘Oldboy’ in a strange way, and comparing this film to Oldboy is saying a lot.
But when you see the film again, you’ll realize that the conclusion was not what Anurag Kashyap was aiming for. It was all about the character of Ruth, also about her solo stride through all the filth that sticks to something that’s not similar to everything else. Kashyap has portrayed a woman who is sadder than she looks and acts older than she is supposed to. It’s an achievement.
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12. Manmarziyaan (2018)
Manmarziyaan is a technically brilliant film. From its opening shots to the very end, it gorgeously captures every setting. Tracking and close-up shots are employed to a great measure, especially in intimate moments. The music is phenomenal. There’s no song and dance routine. Instead, it truly blends into the background and becomes a part of the narrative propelling it forward.
Manmarziyaan is a showcase of talent both in front of and behind the camera. Well-acted and technically polished, it could have been among the finest films of the year. Unfortunately, the film is let down by its narrative. It loses its grip on you in the second half and never recovers as it plods along to its climax. There are so many individual components to appreciate in this film. Sadly, Anurag Kashyap fails to unite them in an enticing package that’d make a mark.
Read the Complete Review: Manmarziyaan : Crazy, Stupid Love Indeed
11. Choked (2020)
Inherently, all Anurag Kashyap characters have a grey side. They look and act in ways that make for an all-inclusive party of darkly comical hounds who are always on the lookout for something better. In his newest Netflix presentation ‘Choked ‘, Kashyap carefully constructs the lives of middle-class Mumbai people.
Every film made by a filmmaker is political. Wherein, he/she doesn’t have to necessarily draw a line and explain the reason for the line being there. In Kashyap’s Choked, the line is drawn again and again putting aside the narrative that could have made it more memorable. I mean, a middle-class family struggling with their morality and greed as their kitchen-sink problem turns into a mess of magic could have yielded a more hefty and complex human drama than the one we actually get here. Choked will divide its viewers. Much like the demonetization phase it propagates, the film will be divided into pre-Choked Kashyap and post-Choked Kashyap.
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Time travel has forever fascinated a writer’s mind as much as it has tingled with the people of science. As a plotting instrument, it enables a filmmaker to create thrill merely by playing with the arrangement of sequences in the screenplay as tweaking with the flow of time leads to the realization of “what would happen if” scenarios over “what was supposed to happen” ones. Dobaara’s idea has novelty only because it belongs to that family of films in which characters affect themselves by affecting time. However, it fails to emerge into an original film.
The film’s premise mimics that of The Girl Who Leapt Through Time. To make it an adherent of genre conventions, a number of cinematic tropes are imposed on the film. In his latest interview with Bhardwaj Rangan, Anurag Kashyap proclaimed to be a genre freak, and he most certainly is, as a cinephile. Dobaara looks like his attempt at a pastiche, but it is so sanitized and unremarkably crafted that you fail to find anything you can call Kashyap’s own. Even as a pastiche, no sequence is actually recreated to honor cinema’s heritage. Therefore, plot elements such as accidental murder, love transcending the dimension of time, as well as the mother-child relationship, come out to be impersonal, for neither have they been assigned tributary aesthetics nor have they been allowed to be built in Kashyap’s signature ways. When cliches are executed without originality in effort, they become a source of boredom. Dobaara might not be Kashyap’s weakest film because it is not a bad film per se, but it has no character that can be attributed to Kashyap.
9. Paanch (2003)
Paanch is a commentary on the childish nature of evil, which also serves as a cautionary tale. As the title suggests, Paanch is a story of five slackers, whose only business is too fool around and get wasted. Every act of iniquity starts with a tiny step, the second step and so on until involved people realize that they are neck deep into the deadening mire of evil, but they keep at it, firstly out of pleasure, then out of compulsion. Those who set a foot on this vicious mire are bound to sink in the deepest trench of hell, there is no escaping.
Luke (Kay Kay Menon) is an agent of Evil. His unpredictable and menacing nature has every band member frightened, but they need money to get by and to record the album. A rich brat voluntarily proposes to be kidnapped by them, to extract money from his miser father. And then, as Murphy’s Law suggests, whatever can go wrong, goes wrong.
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Beginning of Paanch is reminiscent of Fight Club. It has enough pop culture references to intrigue any movie buff. Though it suffers from unnecessarily stretched songs, Paanch is a grotesque thriller. Sadly, it didn’t see theatrical release in India.
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8. Mukkabaaz (2018)
Mukkabaaz on its surface is a love story of an amateur boxer, Shravan (Vineet Kumar Singh) Singh from Bareilly. His passion for boxing is eternal. In one of the scenes, Shravan’s father ridicules him by displaying how useless the winning cup is. Shravan retaliates savagely that boxing is his passion and he doesn’t know anything else to do in life. The whole passion crescendo of Sharavan reflects Anurag’s constant struggle to survive and tell the stories he wants to present in his intransigent voice, in this commercially driven Bollywood ‘industry’. And that could be one of the reasons the headstrong passion of Shravan is so tangible that it breaks your heart to see him getting punched, literally and metaphorically.
Mukkabaaz is dense, insightful though some scenes are theatrical and thoroughly cinematic. Anurag Kashyap lands a satisfying punch against the injustices and hypocrisies that keep India’s sporting underdogs exactly where they are. While he punches the last crude knock by ending the film saying ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’. A tight slap in the face of over enthusiast patriots? Or just heartfelt gratitude to the native for giving such content worthy landscape? Or perhaps both.
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7. No Smoking (2007)
No smoking is Hindi Cinema’s own mind-fuck, an undaunted experimental movie straight out of Anurag Kashyap’s ‘Prayogshala’. A movie, which was supposed to be all about smoking gets more perplex and bizarre as it progresses, and the climax is bound to leave the viewer’s mind numb. It also has some surrealistic elements, rarely found in Indian cinema.
The protagonist of the movie, oddly known as ‘K’ (John Abraham) is a chain smoker and a narcissist. Tired of his smoking habits, his wife Anjali (Ayesha Takia) abandons him. This leaves no option for K but to visit Prayogshala. Prayogshala is a strange rehabilitation centre run by an idiosyncratic Baba Bengali (Paresh Rawal). Baba Bengali is assertive and is prepared to take any measure to help K getting rid of the smoking habit, even if it means killing him. K is forced to sign a contract and has a stamp attached on his forehead to trace him. K has to suffer dire consequences because of his noncompliance.
No smoking is also a commentary on men who are slaves on their own desires. Despite its inconsistencies, No Smoking is highly original film and has rightfully gained cult status with time.
6. Raman Raghav 2.0 (2016)
There’s a strange smile that appears on your face as you watch Ramanna dismantling his victims in Anurag Kashyap’s Raman Raghav 2.0. It’s not because Kashyap somehow magically manages to justify the mystifying murders in his film. It is also not because he tries to ground you into rooting for his killing machine. But because the film jabs at that side of a human brain which has violence and anarchy all over its surface. He kicks a dark, blunt hole in your head, one that shakes you to the moment of spine chilling, psychotic disorder. Here’s a film that never steps back on its delivery of evil. It piles a dozen of grim shenanigans in front of your eyes and just keeps increasing the weight until you gasp or possibly choke yourself to death.
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Starting off in true Tarantino fashion, Raman Raghav 2.0 works in chapters. It doesn’t overuse the gimmick of going back and forth in time, in order to trap you into an unnecessary mystery. The narrative of Kashyap’s film takes up a basic ‘serial-killer’ story arc and builds a solid, darkly delicious tale of insanity, anger & self-discovery. It’s a disturbing character study of two people, one on the verge of complete & total chaos of his psyche and one on the playful aftermath; were no relations, no emotions, no religion and no tragedy matters. Where gaining a Godly figure in its harshest sense is the ultimate and final aim.
Anurag Kashyap’s Raman Raghav 2.0 is dark, delirious and stylistically delicious. It doesn’t leave any stone unturned and is a true Kashyap film in all measures. Cheers to getting fucked inside out!
Read the complete review of Raman Raghav 2.0.
5. DEV D (2009)
Abhay Deol’s rendition of the titular character DEV is not a likeable character. Unlike Bimal Roy’s charming Dilip Kumar or Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s tragic Shah Rukh Khan, he is an avant-garde dick (The D in DEV D stands for Dick). He paunches upon the easiest possible way out of feeling hopeless, mostly dissolving and drinking himself to death. Most of all, he is confused. He never seems to take the right path.
While all versions of Dev, Paro and Chandramukhi end signifying undeniable love, Anurag Kashyap’s Dev D signifies understanding life and death, while love is a pathway. When Dev D came out in 2009, it had rave reviews all around. Critics praised it for its near-perfect defiant charm that would make your jaw drop. In all the filth, Anurag managed to create a hypnotic environment. Also, Kashyap’s film is so densely detailed that you wish they were mere accidents. There’s a shot in the film where Dev receives a phone call when he had drowned himself in alcohol the previous day. We see him putting his shades on before receiving the call in classy Kashyap style.
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When the film ends, the credits seem as confused as its protagonist who only understands the meaning of his life when a car hits a wall beside him as he is busy collecting pennies out a public telephone. When you leave aside all the greatness that surrounds the film, there are still 18 other reasons to love it. Laced up with the most experimental, and possibly the best soundtrack in any Hindi film ever, Amit Trivedi emerges as the unsung hero. His songs dance along with this 3-hour long masterpiece in complete sync.
4. Ugly (2014)
The Subject of Ugly isn’t a unique one; we have seen Child Abduction in films before in Ben Affleck’s ‘Gone Baby Gone’ and Denis Villeneuve’s ‘Prisoners’. But in those films, the focus constantly remains on what might have happened to the missing kid, which makes them a riveting thriller to watch. But, Ugly is a different film altogether. It doesn’t delve deep into finding the missing girl but focuses on the ever-changing mentalities of the key characters.
The parents, their divorce, the Step-Father, the father’s friend, the uncle; these are the players around whom the story revolves. Each one of them uses the kidnapping as an opportunity to benefit something from it. Most of them are trying to make some dirty money while some are using the incident to settle old scores. Of course, some do care for her, but she isn’t a priority. The Kid is the center point of the film whose abduction extracts the ugly sides of these people. After Paanch and Black Friday, Ugly is the third film where Anurag Kashyap portrays a relentless Bombay we don’t get to see often in cinema with all its glamour and Glitz, I call it the Bombay Trilogy.
3. Black Friday (2004)
Black Friday is raw in its narration, impartial in its characterization, melancholic for its entire length & gritty in its look. From the first scene of Bomb exploding that will have your heart pounding in the horror, till the end credit rolls, Black Friday never ceases to ease the tension & thrill that will chill your bones & soul. Black Friday shows the events of 1993 Mumbai Bomb blast that resulted in hundreds of casualties and left thousands of people injured, as the manifestation of religious hatred between the Hindu majority and the Muslim minority.
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The best thing about Black Friday is that it never takes sides, whether it is a character or a religion nor does it try to justify the act of anyone. Black Friday oscillates splendidly between pre-blast phase and the post-blast phase without sensationalizing or glorifying any character or the even itself. It very sensitively captures the psyche of Rakesh Maria, Dawood Ibrahim, Tiger Memon and one of the main bombers Baadshah Khan without even making an effort to draw sympathy for anyone. Black Friday is a film we all should be proud of, the film that defines realism, the film that is brave enough to use real names and location, the kind of a film that should be sent to Oscar.
2. Gulaal (2009)
Gulaal is a socio-political drama at its outset. When peeled layer by layer, it shows the labyrinth of humane characters who have never been so angry with themselves, with their own people and with the political structure of the state. They are deep drowning in the plume, their revenge turns into vendetta, they seek only Power, and their fight against the injustice inflicted to Rajputana community is blinded by greed, hypocrisy, betrayal and deception. If you closely look, all the characters are quite monotonous, their character does not go under any change except for Dileep (played by Raja Singh Chaudhary) and we see issues like campus ragging, student activism, caste biases through the eyes of Dileep. Ironically he comes out as the weak performer in this ‘actor’ studded film.
Gulaal is a multidimensional film where every subplot stands on its own and still, they all come together as a powerful story supporting the core plot. If you wish to indulge in depth, it has many references from real-life characters, and they are amusingly done in a very subtle manner. However, the ace in a hole of Gulaal is eccentric poet Prithvi Bana played by Piyush Mishra. Mishra’s music & lyrics are majestic and acts as a catalyst for the film. Gulaal is a very impressive & matured piece of Indian cinema is unconventional in its storytelling.
1. Gangs of Wasseypur (2012)
Anurag Kashyap had made no less than 3 great films before Wasseypur. But Gangs of Wasseypur is his ultimate Masterpiece that will go down as an important film of the Hindi Cinema in the decades to come. Released in two parts, Gangs of Wasseypur is Anurag Kashyap’s most ambitious film to date. It is an Epic Gangster Saga that portrays the life and times of a small Indian town across 7 decades.
From the man of few words Shahid Khan to the colourful yet ruthless Sardar Khan to the romantic and flimsy Faizal Khan, this film travels through generations of violence in the name of revenge and rivalry. On the other sides of the ring are the Qureshi and the men from Singh Mansion. Each one of them win a round or two but the film isn’t about who wins the battle because everyone here is a criminal with different ideologies, the film is rather about a place, a hellhole that constantly witnesses change in its landscape, a place which is constantly becoming more violent by the minute, no matter who is the proprietor of violence.
‘City of God’, The Godfather, people drew all kinds of comparisons with Wasseypur. Indeed, Gangs of Wasseypur is a love letter to the Crime Genre and it will remind you of every masterpiece that belongs to the genre.