So we have a serial killer, a psychopath madman claiming himself to have a direct connection with God and the world is on surveillance with his CCTV camera. Anurag has come full circle round in a way with his psychopath character which started with his protagonist in his first short film “The Last Train to Mahakali” (1998). What is the evolution of the protagonist with this character in 2016 after having made approximately 13 films is interesting to reflect upon today. For one in his first short film it is only in the end that we realize we have a psychopath of a doctor who is on death row but with this film he puts the character upfront and uses him as a spokesperson to convey his message to the audience.
Anurag in the final confrontational scene between Raman (the serial killer) and Raghav (the cop) which appears towards the end of the film stresses his thematic point loud and clear, and it seems he is using a serial killer to hold up a mirror to laugh and mock at our hypocritical world where we kill others in the guise of religion, law etc. A killer as Raman tells the cop, he does it more directly and without a cover. For him killing is as natural as eating and shitting and he derives pleasure from killing. So is Anurag glorifying the act of killing and a serial killer, or is he reminding us of a very basic animal instinct latent in us as human beings or is he using the serial killer as an extreme case of madness to examine our supposed sane society?
The original film idea was inspired by the real life serial killer Raman who operated in India in around the 1960’s and this idea has been worked on by Anurag since 2007. However when the film was finally decided to be made it was after the big box office flop of Anurag’s period film “Bombay Velvet” (2015). Now Anurag as he puts it was in no financial position to make a period film and yet felt this was a good subject to get back to in the ring after a major flop. So as the film states in the very beginning of the credits that the film is inspired by the serial killer Raman Raghav, but this film is not about him. So what is the film about and how would it be different if we did have a film on Raman Raghav as originally planned, and does this film compromise what the artist wanted to make due to the lack of funds. Would the premise of the original film be the same or could it explore something deeper about the nature of evil of a serial killer. Anurag right from his first film had set his preference as an artist who was interested in the dark side of life. As he puts it “I am always intrigued by the darker side of life, by the unexplained, I am always intrigued by the things that don’t make sense, but that they do happen, they are real.” So in his body of work it would be interesting to probe his evolution of thoughts and insights on the darker nature of life and evil.
Anurag’s films also have an interesting interrelationship with real events and many of his films have been based around true events in India and therefore in a way the films are also exploring India as a nation and society and what light can this film throw on contemporary India is a question worth asking. His first feature film “Black Friday” (released in 2007 after being banned from 2004) brings into focus the true story of the 1993 Bombay bombings based on a book by S. Hussain Zaidi and the film makes a strong statement about the justice and police system of our country.
The film ends with the bomb blast recreation and then text title cards.
The Bombay Blasts became India’s largest criminal case
The designated court took 13 years to deliver justice
100 out of the final 122 found guilty
29 still absconding including Tiger Menon
And Bombay is now called Mumbai.
In his recent film “Raman Raghav 2.0” I think what was lacking was an interesting and dynamic relationship of the film with real life and the director’s statement related to it. I think the fictional character of the cop diluted the impact of the probing of the real life serial killer and the film digressed to explore their relationship, which lacked authenticity and a contact with reality.
Also in this film I missed the woman protagonist playing an active role in the plot progression and she was more a passive player many times falling into the trap of a sex object and a victim.
An Anurag film is always exciting to watch and has its cinematic value but one is greedy to get more out of him that stimulates the intellect and the senses and makes you want to dwell deeper into the meaning of life and existence through the shadows of darkness.
Note: You can check out Oorvazi’s detailed essay on Anurag Kashyap & his works as an auteur here & her entire series of articles are available here