Need of religion much less in today's world: Anurag Kashyap

Often accused of commenting on Hinduism but steering clear of Islam, the filmmaker said he has "no right" to talk about any religion other than his own

Filmmaker Anurag Kashyap (Photo: PTI)
Filmmaker Anurag Kashyap (Photo: PTI)


Filmmaker Anurag Kashyap says the world today needs more education and less religion as faith has become merely a tool in the hands of the powerful to peddle their agenda.

Kashyap, who has produced Shazia Iqbal's acclaimed short "Bebaak", starring Sarah Hashmi and Nawazuddin Siddiqui, said he decided to support the young director's voice as her script became a window into the world he had not seen.

Based on true events, the 20-minute movie is a peek into the life of an aspiring architecture student Fatin Khalidi (Hashmi), who is reprimanded by a religious leader (Siddiqui) for not wearing a hijab (headscarf) during a scholarship interview.

According to Kashyap, the genesis of every religion comes from the "need of trying to bring people together to protect them in old times" when scientific knowledge was not available.

"People, over a period of time, have discovered so much more with science. I feel in today's world, the need for religion is much less. The need for education is much more but religion has now become a tool in the hands of the powerful and politicians to propagate their own agendas," the 51-year-old director told PTI in an interview.

Also starring Sheeba Chadha and Vipin Sharma, award-winning short "Bebaak" is streaming on JioCinema as part of a film festival.

Kashyap, who calls education a privilege afforded by a few, said films like Iqbal's introduce him to different worlds.

"The impact of Shazia's writing was so strong on me because there is a perspective which I learnt from her script. I haven't seen that world. In my world, I know what we have to do to get a scholarship.

"There are many worlds that I haven't seen. You get to know a person more through their work, writing, or filmmaking. Shazia can't help but be honest, it is her problem she cannot lie. So I thought this film needed to be made." Like only Neeraj Ghaywan could have come up with "Masaan", a 2015 film Kashyap co-produced, only Iqbal could have made a film like "Bebaak", the director observed. Ghaywan's Varanasi-set movie trained a lens on prejudice, moral policing and deep-rooted caste system as its characters navigate pain and salvation.

"Masaan" can only be made by someone like Neeraj Ghaywan, who wrote it with Varun Grover. I, who was born in Banaras, didn't see the city the way a young man from Hyderabad did. Because I grew up amid all of that, it was part of my conditioning," he added.

Kashyap, known for his acclaimed movies "Dev D", "Gangs of Wasseypur", "Ugly", and "Mukkabaaz", said he is often accused of commenting on Hinduism but steering clear of Islam.

But, the filmmaker said, he has "no right" to talk about any religion other than his own.

"I should talk about my religion, not anyone else's. I'll talk about my community, my people. If I enter this debate about burqa and hijab, my perspective will only be on a surface level and that of an outsider.

"When that discussion begins, I forget that even my mother used to do 'ghoonghat' (veil). The length of the 'ghoonghat' depended on who was in front of her. When in my father's village, the length of her 'ghoonghat' increased. At other places, it was only till her head. At home, there was no 'ghoonghat' at all," he recalled.

In the trailer of "Bebaak", Siddiqui's character refers to women as 'apni auratein' (our women). Asked to comment on the idea of women in society being viewed through their relationship with men, the director said: "We view women as 'zamindari'." "It's basically the male insecurity from which patriarchy comes because if we just look at it, a woman is so much more strong and powerful. Man is very threatened if a woman becomes independent. We are scared that they snatch away something that's theirs so we tie them up in shackles of rules and law," he added.

Kashyap said he has never been able to understand how the honour of a family or society is associated solely with the woman.

"Whenever there's misbehavior with women, it's said 'ghar ki izzat lut gayi'. Why are only daughters or women regarded as the honour of the house? Why not the men? I have a major problem with that terminology," he said.

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