Filmmaker Anurag Basu on winning an award for Ludo, and why he prefers not to repeat genres

The filmmaker won the Best Director Award for the movie at the recently held Indian Film Festival of Melbourne 2021

Anurag Basu's films evoke strong emotions. They will make you sad, ecstatic, or leave you intrigued. His latest movie Ludo, a Netflix release, illustrates this ability. Four different stories are intertwined in the narrative, and when the movie concludes you discover how all the characters are connected to each other. The filmmaker won the Best Director Award for the movie at the recently held Indian Film Festival of Melbourne 2021.

It didn’t come as a surprise because the movie was successful. But considering it was made for a theatrical release, and had to be released on an OTT platform, the filmmaker says Ludo’s win is definitely a happy outcome. “I just wanted to make a fun movie with crazy people. We didn’t think it would turn out to be such a hit,” he enthuses. Before he started scripting the movie and while he was still toying with the idea, Anurag says he was wondering if he would be able to pull it off. “I gave myself 20 days to experiment with this genre. I thought it would be impossible to work on the screenplay considering how challenging the narrative was. But then everything worked out organically. I can’t explain how it started and ended, but this is the quickest script I have ever written,” he reveals.

Connecting the dots
Anurag is known for experimenting with different genres of cinema, and Ludo is his experiment in the hyperlink genre. But the filmmaker says he approached the subject keeping in mind the sensibilities of the Indian audience. “Many movies have been made in the hyperlink genre. But you can’t compare Ludo with any of them. For example, if you watch Pulp Fiction or Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, they are incident-based. The same kind of movies cannot be made for the Indian audience who want stories with a beginning, middle and end. So within a bigger movie, I had to make four smaller films,” he explains. The filmmaker’s 2007 movie Life In a Metro falls under the same genre, and he agrees. “There was a domino effect of emotions in Life In a Metro. Likewise in Ludo, there was a domino effect of incidents, of actions and reactions, a movie where we are not judging the characters for what they have done,” he explains.

Behind every man...
For someone who started his career as a television director, Anurag has come a long way. His first show was the popular television series Tara that was on-air during the ’90s. “After that, I made thousands of episodes on television, I have literally lost count of it,” he says. A significant element that’s been constant in his stories is line-up of strong female protagonists and Anurag elucidates the reason behind this. “I can’t pinpoint why it’s like this. Both my parents were theatre artistes. My mother was a very strong woman. I guess this could have subconsciously influenced me. My sisters and cousins, all would discuss their problems with me, and hence I always saw stories and things from the female perspective. It was the same when I was doing theatre, I would see characters from the female point of view,” he says.

He gives a similar reason when asked about his style of filmmaking. From tales about the underworld, anthologies and romantic stories, to thrillers and comedies, Anurag has done it all. “Maybe, I am still looking for my voice. Another reason I don’t repeat myself is that I get excited about a new subject and genre with every new project. I always want to do something new,” he says. On the work front, the filmmaker has finished scripting two films which he wants to start shooting at the earliest, and he is in the middle of scripting a third. “The uncertainty of the pandemic has impacted all schedules. So I have to start shooting both my films and I hope to start soon. I may even change the cast, so I can’t say much about it. I am quite restless at the moment!” he signs off.

ayeshatabassum @newindianexpress. com

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