A Historian on a Film SetRoundup: Historians' Take
Gyan Prakash teaches history at Princeton University and is the author of “Mumbai Fables.”
On July 28, I flew to Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka, to join the filmmaker Anurag Kashyap, the actors Ranbir Kapoor and Anushka Sharma, and a massive crew making the movie “Bombay Velvet.” In 2004, drawing on my research on the history of Mumbai, I had written the outline for a retro film noir aimed at capturing the momentous transformation of Mumbai’s milieu of jazz clubs and industrial society in the 1960s. I had seen and admired Mr. Kashyap’s first film, “Paanch,” a dark tale set in Mumbai that has never been released commercially but was screened at Princeton University. I told my story to him because he had a reputation as an independent-minded and talented scriptwriter and director. When I finished, he said, “Like James Ellroy! Great! We’ll make it.”
This initial burst of enthusiasm was what John le Carré, writing in The New Yorker about his experience with the filming of one of his novels, described as the “First Flush.” It was followed, as in the case of Mr. le Carré, with the “Big Unexplained Silence.” Year after year, month after month, I badgered Mr. Kashyap, but things never seemed to be falling into place. I was certain that only he had the sensibility to make a dark film of the kind that I had in mind, despite the fact that most of his own films — like “Black Friday,” on the 1993 bombings in Mumbai, then Bombay, — were not finding distribution. When I arrived in Mumbai in the summer of 2008, he suggested that I write a script to get things going. Write a screenplay? I immediately bought books on screenwriting and read and reread well-known screenplays. And I did write a script, several times over....
comments powered by Disqus
- Turnover In Trump's White House Is 'Record-Setting,' And It Isn't Even Close
- The History Of Government Shutdowns In The U.S.
- Unhealthiest presidents in U.S. history
- ‘Make it right’: Descendants of slaves demand restitution from Georgetown
- See How Trump's Approval Rating Stacks Up Against Other Presidents After One Year
- Barbara and Karen Fields discuss their new book, "Racecraft"
- What’s Antifa all about? Mark Bray explains.
- Historian Keisha N. Blain tells the story of black nationalist women in her new book
- War or Peace for North Korea: A call for Action by Historians for Peace and Democracy
- George Will goes after liberal historian David Goldfield