My kind of cinema is not too far from that of my father's: Aasmaan Bhardwaj

'Kuttey' has come out better than what I visualised

kuttey-poster via Twitter

It has been over three weeks post the release of this year's first Bollywood film, Kuttey, directed by Vishal Bhardwaj's son Aasmaan, in consultation with his father. Poetic and dark, Kuttey is a twisted thriller soaked in blood, gore, guns and greed and is a stark reminder of the freakish universe of Kaminey (2009) created by Bhardwaj senior.

As the screenplay takes the audience on a roller-coaster ride to bring out the vision of its debutant director-writer alive on celluloid, Kuttey comes into a league of its own. Yet, it has not been able to make a lasting mark at the box office. But the bespectacled heir to VB films, Aasmaan, remains nonchalant saying that his first outing as a director was anyway to simply test the waters and to see if he is successful in executing an idea from paper to celluloid in exactly the way he imagined it. In that alone, he considers himself successful.

Excerpts from an interview with THE WEEK from Aasmaan's office in suburban Mumbai.

A lot was riding on Kuttey as it was the first film in the new year and Bollywood did not have a good inning last year with most films falling below expectations. What has been your own assessment of Kuttey's performance at the box office?

I really loved the way the film has turned out. It's what I wanted to make from the very beginning and it has come out better than what I visualised. We never do a postmortem of a film after it has just been released. I do not think my father would ever have seen any of his films until four to five years after their release. In the last two months before the film's release I must have watched it at least 80 times. So, even now if I see the film I'm sure some technical glitches might come to the fore but nothing more than that. I'm also sure it did well at the box office because we have made this film under budget and we have recovered our money well. So it wasn't commercially a big film to begin with. Our budget was close to Rs 20 lakhs.

So, the exercise was mostly to get your name out there...

Yes. And hopefully we have been successful at that. Also, movie appreciation is a very subjective art. There is nothing wrong with it. So, in the end what matters is that people have watched the film. Some will like it, some won't. but that is what art and creativity is all about.

Your father is known for the 'real cinema' and not blockbusters. Are you in line with his thought process?

Yes totally. Kuttey was one of my favourite scripts. Also this was not a safe film to make for me as a first-timer. There were a number of complex shots and my father once even told me why are you shooting these scenes but then I really wanted to make this one. My kind of cinema is not too far from that of my father's. But at the same time, my thought process is not limited to the genres followed by my father. I also enjoy the kind of films made by Anurag Kashyap, Shriram Raghavan and a number of Hollywood filmmakers. So I'm influenced by so many talented filmmakers that my own thought process is influenced to a large extent by everyone else around me. Yet, when it comes to choosing a script, it has to be the one that gets me interested in it, first. If it cannot interest me, then I know it will not interest the audience either. We do not sit down to write the story thinking if it will be commercially successful or not. All that comes later. The story comes first. How a story will perform at the box office, cannot be decided by anyone. Because if that was true, Aamir Khan's Laal Singh Chaddha would have been a blockbuster.

The cancel culture shows up every time a film releases. That happened with Kuttey too. How do you block the noise?

It just doesn't get to me. I do not read everything written about me. And people have a right to their own opinions. But I will make what I want to make.

Will we see you acting in time to come?

No, I will only act in my own films. I have seen how actors are treated by the directors; I have been a director myself. I don't want to go and work for someone else. I don't want to sit in my van for four hours and wait for my shot to get ready. I don't want to showcase my acting for people to hire me. I just enjoy acting but don't want to be an actor. I want to continue making films.

What were the key learnings you take away from Kuttey?

That one must never combine rain and night. It just gets very tough. Logistically and safety-wise, it becomes very chaotic. It took us five days to shoot that scene in Vasai. Night shoots have been very tough. Because the end result looked good, I forgot about it. But those are some things I will bear in mind when it comes to making my next film.

Do you think there is a certain push towards a certain kind of cinema?

There might be but I wouldn't know. But I know that I may not be able to make every kind of film I want to make, given the kind of times we live in. For instance,

the book, In an Ideal World by Kunal Basu can be made into a gripping film but given the kind of political climate prevalent in the country at the moment, I may not be able to make it.