Back on November 3, 2010, I had the pleasure of watching Anurag Kashyap’s new film written with, and starring Kalki Koechlin at the Minneapolis-St. Paul Asian Film Festival.
That Girl in Yellow Boots is an upcoming Indian Thriller film by critically acclaimed director Anurag Kashyap. Starring Kalki Koechlin and Naseeruddin Shah, the film will premiere at the Venice Film Festival. It will also be screened at the Toronto International Film Festival. Ruth (Kalki Koechlin) comes to Mumbai to find her long-lost father, but when she takes a job as a massage therapist to make ends meet she becomes involved in the seedier side of the city. Although the money is welcome, and she does enjoy the adventure that comes with her new job, she soon faces an important moral decision. (source)
That Girl in Yellow Boots was the opening film in the festival, and as an added bonus, the director attended the film and answered questions before and after the screening. I had no idea this festival was going on and thanks to a tweet from Nicki, the Hmong Chick Who Loves Indian Cinema, I was able to learn about the event just 2 hours before it happened! I’ve seen Kashyap’s Black Friday (2004) and Dev. D (2009) and was already a big fan of his work, so I was delighted for the opportunity to see his new film. What was even more exciting was that Kashyap appeared at the event!
That Girl in Yellow Boots also was shown in September of 2010 as part of the Toronto International Film Festival, which you can read about here in a review by Marissa Bronfman.
Look how fancy THAT event was! And get a load of Kalki’s gorgeous saree. Kashyap’s outfits at the different events indicates The Minneapolis/St. Paul Film festival was quite a bit less formal that the Toronto festival.
Q & A before and after screening of That Girl in Yellow Boots
During the pre and post question and answer sessions, Kashyap graciously answered questions about his new film as well as previous works. He spoke about the censor board in India and the difficulties to passing films through that process. He also spoke about some missing (lost or destroyed, I can’t recall) footage from Black Friday (2004), and how it was merely pieced together with much of its full/original content gone. Having enjoyed Black Friday very much, I can’t imagine how more footage would have improved on an already great film. A lot of the comments were basically, “Your films are so dark” and at one point Kashyap responded in good humor, something like, ”With 800 happy films made in India in a year, it’s OK if 200 can not be happy.” I bet there’s some recording of these before and after film comments by Kashyap and if I come across it, I’ll link it in. I can only rely on my memory of the event, and I was so thrilled to be there that a lot of what I heard has receded in to a vague happy memory. I should have jotted down some notes or written this down right after it happened, but alas I did not. There is a very nice interview with Kashyap done by MTN, and while the interviewer does not seem to understand quite how big of a deal Kashyap is, and doesn’t ever manage to say his name correctly, she makes up for this with her earnest curiosity, so I forgive her. If you watch the interview, which I recommended, note how polite Kashyap is with his interviewer too, meeting her at her level of understanding and moving her along quickly to learn a lot in a short time.
The full interview with Kashyap on MTN can be found HERE. There’s also a very nice review of the film, by local writer, Will Wright, HERE.
Upon completing the question and answer session after the film, several audience members stopped Shree Kashyap for photos, autographs, and conversation while he was exiting the theater. I caught him and said something like, “Do you want to know my FAVORITE scene from Dev. D ?” I didn’t give him a chance to say no, and told him it was the scene when Mahi Gill’s Paro is dancing, knowing the Dev (Abhay Deol) is finally on his way back home to the Punjab from London, but not back yet, and suddenly she glances up and sees him photographing her.
And then she meets him privately in the house, and he puts his arm up against the wall, to make sure she stays:
The scene described can be found here starting at 2:20:
That is one of my favorite movie sequences EVER for it completely captures the passionate anticipation the characters have for each other. Though I told Kashyap how much I loved that scene, I’m not sure if he heard what I exactly said, since I said it so quickly and he was trying to attend to his other fans, but I loved having the opportunity to tell him that in person.
The After Party
If that wasn’t good enough, here’s the even better part: I actually got to sit and chat with Mr. Kashyap after the film! There was a gathering after the film viewing at a nearby bar, Honey. Now I know Honey sponsored the event, and they serve Asian fusion food, and this was an Asian film festival, BUT just across the street, within a stone’s throw of the
Ganga Mississippi River, is Nye’s Polonaise Room, voted best bar in America, which would have been my choice.
Nye’s has a lot more filmi charm and the character that a director of Kashyap’s reputation deserves, but I digress. Along with some of the audience, I made my way over to Honey and watched Anurag Kashyap speak with viewers. I had a wonderful time talking about films with some NRIs and after about an hour we worked up our courage to approach that table where the director was sitting and eventually we sat down and talked to him. As time passed I was able to sit right next to him and tell him another favorite scene I had from Dev. D. It’s the one where Kalki Koechlin’s character is asked to decide on a name to use in the brothel by Chunni (Dibyendu Bhattacharya)
and while watching Madhuri Dixit’s Chandramuki in Devdas (2002) on TV, she replies:
I also love the steaming momos sequence in Dev. D. but forgot to tell him that.
I asked Kashyap if he liked how Emosanal Attaychar was worked into the background soundtrack of Peepli Live (2010). He asked what I thought of the new film. I told him it was fabulous. Though the subject was dark, the humor and suspense worked in throughout relieved the intensity at just the right times. I especially loved the scene where the goonda breaks into Ruth’s home and stubbornly struggles to work the various remote controls for her entertainment system. I overheard one of the Tamilian NRI‘s at the table talk to Kashyap about Rajinikanth. These Madrasis can’t help but talk about their superstar, I understand. While Kashyap did not mention that he’d be working with Rajinikanth, he did say he was working on a film with Prithviraj and Rani Mukeji, if I heard correctly. I’m not sure if he meant on the same film, if he was currently working on this project, or if they were separate projects not yet started. My internet research does confirm the Prithviraj project. Another thing discussed were the film’s yellow boots. Kashyap said in the store it was a choice between yellow or red Doc Martens, and the yellow boots won. I told him I thought the work boots were to represent that Ruth was there in Mumbai to do the heavy labor of finding out the mystery of her past; she was there to take care of some dirty business, thus the work boots. He said, no, but that this is the beauty of film, one can think what they’d like, make a variety of their own interpretations regardless of the director’s intentions. I also told him that his films are in our Minneapolis library system, and he seemed to like that. I did exercise great restraint by NOT saying some of these things I was thinking: “Where’s Kalki? I wanted to see Kalki too! How much does Nasruddin Shah charge to be in a film? What about Abhay Deol?! He’s SO cute, what’s he like?!” I did though try to touch Mr. Kashyap’s feet for fun, something I like to do to Indians because I love when they say, “no, no, no,” just like in the movies and it’s how I indulge my fantasies of being a gori extra in film.
He did the usual, when I tried to touch his feet and Anuragji said, “No, you must not do this.” Kashyap left the table to go out to smoke and left his iPad, and I thought if I were the stealing type, a goonda, a dacoit, that would be a great iPad to steal, maybe get a few movie ideas out of it to sell. While I did not steal his iPad, I confess, I stole on sip of whiskey from his unattended glass, only just a small part of the peg. I felt fancy and daring doing this, and I’m almost positive that it was Johnnie Walker, and I would presume it was black label, hai na? Wouldn’t you have done the same given the opportunity?
I was delighted to have the opportunity to see Kashyap’s new film and get a chance to share a few moments chatting with him. Read more about The Girl in Yellow Boots HERE, and in Katherine Matthew’s insightful Bollyspice review HERE, and be sure to see it when it’s released next year.