Anurag Basu - fighting illness and formula

May 11, 2006 Subhash K. Jha

Mumbai, May 11 (IANS) He has been battling a terminal illness for two years now. But Anurag Basu remains gloriously undefeated and his new film "Gangster" is proof of a talent that cannot be stopped.

Basu denies completely that "Gangster" is inspired by the real life story of Abu Salem.

"Not at all. The only similarity to headlines is the gangster on the run with his girl. I wondered why Abu Salem didn't shed the extra baggage when he was a fugitive. There had to be something really special between them," Basu told IANS.

"When I set out to make the film my only basic idea was to make a film about this gangster, his moll and a second man in her life. I wasn't sure I could make a screenplay out of this small idea. Everybody makes a triangle but it happened by chance. It is in the way we narrated the story.

"The screenplay is the magic and mystery of my film. It took me just 20 days to write the screenplay. I didn't want it to be a gangster's story. I wanted it to be a love story."

Real life never scares Basu.

"I knew people would compare the film to headlines. But yeah, the talk of it being the story of Abu Salem just went on. I did get a little disturbed. I asked people to wait and watch. I don't think 'Gangster' is about Abu Salem."

Why shoot in South Korea?

"It was my producer Mahesh Bhatt's idea. He was watching some Korean films at that time. We were thinking of Bangkok. But I wasn't keen because my 'Murder' had been shot there already. Once we went to Korea it was like entering a dark tunnel. We didn't know anything about the place. I got information on the country on the Internet. We shot there in 20 days."

Basu says debutante Kangana is a better performer than Mallika Sherawat.

"There's something special about her. She wants to learn. She has a very expressive face. She was honest enough to say she didn't know anything. Mallika Sherawat became a big star after 'Murder' - 'Kangana' will make a big impact. She's a far better actress than Mallika. Kangana can pull off any role."

Basu, who wanted to cast Sanjay Dutt for the gangster's role, is happy with his cast.

"Sanjay Dutt whom I wanted initially has played the gangster so many times. Shiney Ahuja is a refreshing change. That sequence where he has broken down and cried like a baby is so heroic because heroes aren't supposed to cry."

Isn't the climax on the station inspired by Jean Luc Godard's "Breathless"?

"Not one moment in 'Gangster' is inspired from anywhere. I admit my first two films were adapted. 'Gangster' is all from the heart. Everything including the cast and location just happened."


"I have many ideas. But I don't know which one to do next. I have many more films to make."

Basu's cancer is incurable. "But I'm on medication. It's become a part of my life. It wouldn't have been possible to continue working after my illness if it wasn't for the Bhatts (Mahesh and Mukesh Bhatt) and the support system of my friends. There have been times when I have been shooting and undergoing chemotherapy."

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