Home » Anurag Kashyap calls The Kerala Story ‘propaganda’: ‘You can’t escape politics in this day and age’

Anurag Kashyap calls The Kerala Story ‘propaganda’: ‘You can’t escape politics in this day and age’

by Joe Bourn

Ace director Anurag Kashyap’s Kennedy recently premiered at the 76th Cannes Film Festival to a seven-minute standing ovation at the Grand Lumiere Theatre. The film premiered during the midnight screening at Cannes 2023 and was among the only two films from India this year to be official selections of the festival this year.

Kashyap’s recent interviews have attracted a lot of attention, but his latest chat with Hindustan Times is currently the talk of the town. This is because he has now spoken out about the controversial film, The Kerala Story, after earlier opposing the call to ban it.

“Honestly you can’t escape politics in this day and age. It is very difficult for cinema to be non-political. Many films are being made which we call propaganda films like The Kerala Story. I’m totally against banning anything, but it’s a propaganda film. This is political. I don’t want to make a film that looks like anti-propaganda,” he said. “As a filmmaker, I don’t want to be seen as an activist. I make movies. Cinema must be based on reality and truth and its politics come from the politics of the world it is based on and the truths and facts of the world it is based on.”

When asked if he believes he can make the films he wants given the country’s socio-political climate, Kashyap said, “If you are honest you can. They can’t close anything that’s real and they don’t take sides. Counter-propaganda can also be dishonest, but honest, they cannot fight it.’

On 9 May 2023, four days after the release of The Kerala Story, Kashyap posted a cryptic tweet saying, “Whether you agree with the film or not, whether it’s propaganda, anti-propaganda, offensive or not, banning it is just wrong.” along with an image displaying a quote from Voltaire that reads: “I don’t agree with what you have to say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

In a recent chat with Forbes India, Kashyap also said that Independent cinema was in a “very bad and confused place” at the moment. Kashyap compared streaming platforms in India to the East India Company. “Independent cinema, right now, is in a very bad and confusing place because of the lockdown. Streaming kind of became the place for Indian cinema, but during the lockdown, even mainstream cinema started streaming. So streamers also prefer this to very independent cinema. Now, you have to get attention to survive.”

After Kennedy received a standing ovation from the audience at the Cannes Film Festival, the film’s stars Rahul Bhat and Sunny Leone got emotional, while Anurag had the biggest smile on his face. The team hugged and congratulated each other. Director Sudhir Mishra was also present in the auditorium and Anurag came close to him and touched his feet. Kennedy was inspired by a story Sudhir had told Anurag many years ago.

Kennedy has Rahul play the title role of a murderous ex-cop, which Anurag had originally written for Chiyan Vikram. Kashyap recently also spoke about Sunny and mentioned that decided to cast the actor in the film after seeing her keep her cool and give it back to the reporter in her infamous 2016 interview.

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