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Three Writing Lessons Writers Can Take From Anurag Kashyap

Anurag Kashyap Writing Style

Anurag Kashyap is the foremost creators in Hindi cinema, so it’s natural for writers to study his writing methods closely. His movies have led the way when it comes to experimenting and pushing the envelope in our cinema. It is for this reason many people wait for upcoming movies from Anurag Kashyap. He’s simply that good. 

However, we are not here to regale ourselves with the quality of films Kashyap has made. Even people who may not like Anurag Kashyap and his films have to admit they have legitimate storytelling qualities. No, we are here to study the master’s methods and take away some lessons. 

When we start out as writers, the natural inclination is to imitate other top authors. I don’t think this is a bad idea for new writers. People who make it to the very top usually leave many lessons for rookie writers in their work. 

Just like young singers start out modelling themselves around their favourite rockstar or rapper, a writer does the exact same. In this process of taking inspiration and learning, writers tend to discover their own style and slowly move away from their idols 

To learn from Anurag Kashyap as a writer, you must first watch his films. If you’ve already seen them, watch them again, but this time watch for educational purposes, not entertainment. 

When you look over Anurag Kashyap’s filmography, you won’t find a similarity in genres. Kashyap has dabbled with many genres which would have been anti-Kashyap during the days he made films like Gulaal. Films like Manmarziyan showed how Kashyap approaches a genre like romance. For someone who knows him for films like Wasseypur, Raman Raghav, and Gulaal, Manmarziyan was a surprise. 

Moving forward, we will discuss specific lessons writers can draw from Kashyap and his movies.

Be Bold

There is a saying amongst successful people – The greatest risk you can take is to take no risk at all. 

Anurag Kashyap displays the same quality in his filmmaking and leaves a lesson for us writers. You can say a lot of things about Kashyap’s previous films. You can even speculate about Anurag Kashyap’s upcoming movies. However, you cannot doubt the bold audacity of the writer-director.

No Smoking is a great example. Without getting into the details of the film, I think we can all agree it is a very bold attempt at filmmaking. Kashyap takes inspiration from Stephen King’s Quitters Inc and doesn’t compromise on the raw aspects of the story.

The film failed miserably at the box office. Many critics called No Smoking ‘arrogant’ as it allegedly took pride in being confusing and incomprehensible. Despite the criticism, Kashyap didn’t change his ways. He continued making films how he knew best. In Gulaal, he didn’t dial down the dark themes he explored in previous films like Black Friday and No Smoking. He did what the story and script demanded and didn’t back down. 

Gangs of Wasseypur, perhaps the most ambitious Hindi film ever made in terms of content, is a clear example of Kashyap’s commitment to his art. Whether it’s a romantic love triangle or a gangster film based in Dhanbad, Kashyap is ready to do what he thinks is good. 

As writers, this is a very important lesson for us to learn. We often hesitate while making a decision on a dialogue or a character. We feel scared of showing our work to friends and family. Learning to be bold with our writing decisions and standing with them is a great thing to pick up from Anurag Kashyap.

Remember the Fundamental Rule – Keep Things Interesting

To speak plainly, Hindi cinema creators can broadly be summed up in two categories – commercial and art. 

The likes of Rohit Shett, Karan Johar, Zoya Akhtar, and so on have always belonged to the commercial creators’ category. Their films attract a large audience, have mainstream actors and studios, and most importantly, are made keeping in mind the commercial intent. We could argue about which directors belong to this category, but it’s clear what it’s all about.

Then there are art films. You must have heard of people like Nandita Das, Deepa Mehta, Mira Nair, and so on. They are known for making art films. You can add Anurag Kashyap to this category as well, considering the tone and subjects he chooses. 

The problem with art films is simple, most of them are boring. 

Art films pick up topics which commercial movies stay away from. However, they don’t do justice to the subject matter and instead create films which are semi-documentaries. 

Anurag Kashyap doesn’t make this mistake like other art filmmakers. He understands the one simple principle of storytelling – the story needs to be interesting. 

Art filmmakers usually make the excuse that audiences are too immature to understand their high brow take on politically charged matters. However, Kashyap and his cult of fans show non-mainstream films can succeed if they don’t make excuses for being art films and are actually, interesting. Even Choked, his most recent film is fundamentally an interesting story despite the heavy themes it explores. 

Stay in the Game

Many writers are too principled about the type of things they write. When you read about Kashyap’s career on Wikipedia and other pieces, you realize the different things he did to survive.

This particular lesson has less to do with writing. This is more about surviving as a writer. 

Before releasing his first movie, Kashyap wrote dialogues for several films which were out of his domain. These include films like Paisa Vasool, Yuva, Water, and Mixed Doubles. He also directed Hanuman Returns, an animated film the same year No Smoking bombed on the box office.

This all happened after Kashyap had already worked as a writer in the industry for more than a decade.

To make it as a writer, you need patience and will. You have to work on projects you don’t believe in just to get a foot in the door. 

This is perhaps the most important lesson writers can learn from Kashyap. Before you get the chance to show your talent, you need to survive and establish yourself as a writer. This can mean taking boring article writing jobs to survive and make money as a writer. Keep doing what is necessary to stay in the game. Success will come. 

Writing Lessons From Anurag Kashyap – Final Words

Will these three lessons suddenly make you a rich writer with money in the bank and publishing houses on speed dial? No.

Will these make you a better writer? Yes.

Ultimately, your goal shouldn’t be writing like Anurag Kashyap. The world already has one Anurag. You should take inspiration from some of the qualities of his films and incorporate them into your own work. Ultimately, the act of inspiration is not imitation, but a careful selection of values which work for you. 

Also read: What is Speculative Fiction?
Also read: Indian Fantasy Novels: The Best Fantasy Fiction From India

(Featured Image Credits: Wikipedia)

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