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Path of success

Anurag Basu has reached a high at a young age. A chat with the director


DIRECTING ONE of the country's first soaps, Tara on ZEE TV at the age of 21, moving on to directing some of the popular and well-known soaps like Koshish Ek Aasha, Ajeeb Dastaan, Kahani Ghar Ghar Kii (to name a few) and now a full-fledged movie director at the age of 29... that's destiny's child Anurag Basu. The young lad from Bhilai struck it big in the land of dreams - Mumbai. In a short span of nine years Anurag Basu, a name to reckon with on the telly, is emerging as one of the young directors in tinsel town with Saaya and now Murder (both of the Bhatt camp) under his belt.

On a trip to Hyderabad to promote his latest film Murder Anurag, who has scripted and directed the film, says, "a report in India Today on the changing face of Indian women triggered the idea for the film which is a reflection of society. The success of marriage is difficult today. Times and morals have changed. The wife is no longer the submissive patni who considers her husband to be parmeshwar. Once the characters were well defined the story flowed easily." Emraan Hashmi and Mallika Sherawat were the automatic choices. I saw Mallika in The Big Fight (on NDTV) and found she would be convincing in the portrayal as we needed somebody who will believe in the character." Saaya may not have fared well at the B.O. but Anurag adds, "John Abraham benefited from it." Murder is also dubbed in Telugu and will release at the same time. "When the distributor in Hyderabad saw it he suggested we could dub it. So we went ahead," says Anurag.

What made him take up direction? "I used to watch a lot of theatre as my father was pursuing it. I noticed that the director had total control. It was as though the string was in his hand and his actors were puppets who were controlled by him. The director enjoys power, freedom and has the creative hold on music, camera and performance. It's a high to be in," says Anurag, who gave up engineering to pursue a BSc in Physics as he thought this subject "would help him learn camera and editing."

He harboured intentions of going to FTII but Raman Kumar of Trac Cinema took him as assistant director. He had a short stint of six months before he took over the `reins' of Tara. In fact he learnt more about the job hands on. "Raman Kumar told me I would be better off not going to FTII as I would learn in a year at Trac Cinema what I would learn in three years at FTII." And surely he did.

He had the guts to walk out of Ekta Kapoor's film Kuchh To Hai (as director) when he had differences with her. "I thought my career was over," he reminisces but later on he got Saaya. "Mahesh Bhatt saw an episode of Ajeeb Dastaan and told me I should move to the big screen. Three years later he offered me Saaya. And now it continues with Murder and Tumsa Nahin Dekha (starring Emraan Hashmi). "We share a good personal equation, comfort level and understanding. Whenever any idea crops in the mind I call up Bhatt Saab and discuss," says Anurag, who feels writing and direction are complementary. "If the script is written by somebody else it takes longer to get into the writer's wavelength." How has the small screen helped him? "My television background is helping me. TV has taught me to value money. Because in TV, we do productions on shoestring budgets. The grammar of film-making is not different. Films mean more money and more responsibility. Every day is a learning process," says Anurag, who is not closed to working for the telly now. Anurag loves comedy and romantic stuff and hates horror and thriller. "I would love to write witty one liners but I am caught up in directing horror-thriller stuff."

Cricket, music and painting are his other interests. "I listen to anything from Rabindra Sangeet to Western but hard rock and techno are strict no. Since my wife Tani is trained in classical music from Shantiniketan I listen to it."

Anurag is brimming with ideas for scripting. "My wife writes along with me." He gets restless and feels insecure if there is no work. He has reached a high soon. "Everything has happened fast and I hope the journey does not end." So do we.

R.R.

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