No Smoking: Open Letter to Anurag Kashyap

Hi Anurag

I must say you are an intellectual genius! I loved your movie ‘No Smoking‘, though I didn’t entirely understand its philosophy when I first saw it on DVD recently. However, my doubts were clarified after I read your blog post on that film. And yes, the background score and songs, cinematography, locations and performances were great, and hats off to you for the boldness you’ve shown in making a film of this kind.

No Smoking poster

The rationale behind your film is very true – the natural creative instincts of many a person in India die a quiet, gradual death, because they find out at every stage that people frown upon those who question paradigms and try to take the road less travelled. This holds true for every aspect of life, and perhaps nowhere more so than our decadent education system. Indeed, I can recollect a couple of instances of this from my own College days when professors have encouraged nothing more than rote learning and most students desired nothing better anyway! Many Indians seem to be nothing better than frogs in a well, at least intellectually so, unwilling to accept that there is a world outside of the well too.

Coming back to cinema, it’s a sad fact that the content in our movies has, over the years, been dumbed down to the extent of making everything as obvious as possible with the intention of spoon feeding the audience. But perhaps one can’t blame the script writers and the producers entirely for this. Maybe they were driven to think thus thanks to the box office successes of some very mediocre movies and the failure of some very creative ones. In particular, I was very disappointed that Johnny Gaddaar didn’t do far better than it did.

But how did we reach this stage? Weren’t our movies from the 60’s and 70’s so intelligent, creative and sensitive? Well, you probably know the answers better than I do.

Anyway, I’m happy that Black Friday did finally release and was rather well appreciated by critics and audiences alike. I saw that film too and the realistic portrayal and attention to detail really struck me, having gotten used to make-believe fantasies that are otherwise the norm in Bollywood.

I’d like to conclude by hoping that you keep making your kind of cinema, inspiring several others and creating new genres for Hindi cinema. I know ‘No Smoking’ was made in a very different situation and I’m glad you haven’t met the same fate as your character ‘K’ (I’m sure you’ll agree now)! I wish you all the best for your future ventures, such as Dev D and Gulaal!


Vijay Padiyar

P.S. Forgot to add – ‘No Smoking’ strikes me as being similar to The Matrix in the sense that what is shown is not to be taken at face value; rather the philosophy behind it must be understood to truly appreciate the real value of the film. The latter did much better because of a good script, some stunning special effects and performances and also probably because it belonged to the popular science fiction genre. Your movie, however, is no less in terms of the quality of content and the message carried by it.


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