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An Open Letter to Anurag Kashyap and his 12.12.12 project. #kractivism




( Within 3 hours after putting this post- picture abhi baak hai dost :-P)

“Shilpa has been refunded the expenses she incurred on making the and Showhouse’s Large Short Films has promised to give her copyright over her work soon subsequent to the circulation of the open letter. She is waiting for it in writing. She stands by the issues she raised and thanks everyone for the immense kind support” Thanks Kamayani this would not have been possible without you. You are really awesome!

I am a Mysore based woman filmmaker who was chosen by you to be part of the Mega project 12.12.12 executed by Showhouse Entertainment’s Large Short Films Wing. I am writing this because I think public discourse is important given that over the years you have come to occupy such an important space within what you call ‘independent ’.

Also no one from the that you endorse, as well as you, thinks it is important to have a dialogue with me about unpaid wages, disrespect and unfair dismissal which has caused me tremendous amount of financial, emotional stress. There is also a much touted save indie cinema doing the rounds and what it fails to add to the discourse (not surprising going by the kind of signatories it claims) is what I want to talk about. Changing the look of how you produce cinema and being backed by big studio capital isn’t really independent. I think it is important to bring this into the public domain as the silences around working practices result in the perpetuation of exploitative systems and weed out filmmakers based on their class, caste, gender, religion and language.

It was absolutely no surprise when I saw that the list of 12 directors included no woman. So apparently out of 600 entries only I, the sole woman, made it to the shortlist and because I decided to speak up and not be quiet about how my film was going to tortured and beaten into becoming the kind of objects that you seem to grant your blessings to, 12.12.12 is now officially an all male production.

I bring your notice to this because the tone of the company with regard to objections I raised has been patronising, condescending and dismissive. Well meaning friends and critics will tell me that’s how it works, that’s the industry,
the industry that works on free labour, meant for those who have the money to afford the time to chase dreams. It’s not meant for women like me who have no big daddies or brothers or husbands supporting them. It isn’t meant for women
like me who choose to work in a language other than Hindi and it definitely isn’t meant for women like me who don’t know how to waddle along consenting to practices that make people like you and the companies you endorse just richer
on the back of such exploitative practices.

You sent me an email stipulating that I would not be in touch with any of the other 11 directors (an effective way I must say to curb dissent and this goes by the name of being collaborative!) The contract also stipulated that I would be paid once I handed over the film contrary to what the rules on the contest page initially stated wherein I was supposed to have been given the money before Ivmade the film. This I was informed after having worked a full month on the project. I did sign it and I take full responsibility for that sign because you were the carrot dangled to me, the one ruling the roost in the film festival circuit and of course the Indian public funding circuit, what seemed like the only way to make one’s film. And since you must have been paid handsomely to be the carrot, I only ask that you own up to the full responsibility of it and be accountable to the carrot desirers you create.

After insisting that I get paid at least half I went ahead, after funds were released, and borrowed money to complete it. I hand over the film and fulfil my contractual obligations and then am bullied into changing and reshooting it for a mistake made by Asmit Pathare (Project director not the 12th discovery – check the shortlist!) and Abhijit Das (the godfather of short films in the making). So I naturally said no. You must understand how difficult it is for a director to hurt their stories? It’s kind of like being okay with Abhijit Das (Creative head of Largeshortfilms) adding on a scene where Manoj Bajpai spouts Feminist Marxist dialogues in Gangs of Wasseypur and without telling you! Wouldn’t really fit with the ethos of the film no? Your company even told me that since I do not have the resources I cannot be involved in the reshoot. At such a juncture I asked you not to use my film if I was not being reimbursed and no, you go ahead and use it. The matchbox still from my film is still up on the company’s website.

In a country with absolutely zilch funding for independent films you exploit the hopes of thousands of aspirants. You reiterate a certain way of working which accommodates only a certain type of filmmaker. This in my world is called cheating, it’s called immoral and it’s called unfair. In your world all this is grey, this hijacking that you do of a space that has seen so much struggle and such amazing cinema, this hijacking of language – calling it collaborative when it’s more dictatorial, this hijacking of image, of new film waves, of new ways of working. One of the most exciting things about globalised capitalism’s current avatar (as Hardt and Negri will tell you) is that even though it creates systems like you it also provides for ruptures like me.

Before you come back with a reply to this I ask you to re‐look at emails that you sent me and words you relayed to me through the company about my . Everything that I have said is backed by evidence (I know too well
how important that is) I know this open dissent will cost me. I’m not naïve not to understand as to how you rule visibilities around distribution and production but I will walk away knowing that I have spoken and that this is just the beginning not the end of the road for me. For those of you reading this I understand that within the larger framework of what we call injustice in this country this is nothing but when we start to look at continuums everything does matter and support for this would really help not just me but for all those who are engaged in changing the way images speak.

From the 12th director who so mysteriously disappeared
Shilpa Munikempanna
[email protected]

contact- 9611843981

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Comments (52)

  1. Good for you for speaking out and exposing those who pretend to be role models. your words will go some way to ensuring not too many more are lured by such unethical ‘leading lights’

  2. Gaurav Prabhu

    the real behind the scenes is it or another publicity stunt?

  3. Amrita

    Just read the letter. And if there is any truth in it ( Which I personally believe there is) then it just reaffirms my belief that once these money-hoarders get to the top they forget where they started. I am not implying that Mr. Kashyap or the likes if him are directly responsible, but if they did not care what they were endorsing and was their hands off with a worthless smirk, well then they have no right to pretend that they are these revolutionary do-gooders opening the eyes of the ignorant society…Oh come on…who are you fooling..only yourself….Well done Shilpa!

  4. Somen Mishra

    Anurag Kashyap cant handle so much. He is just a Subtle Pimp of cinema.

  5. Varun Grover

    You are all so immature. grow up i know mr kashyap he is great

  6. Unfair to judge till one reads AK’s side of the story.

  7. Brilliant. Will share it whereever i can. Sorry that this happened with you.

  8. I’m a deep admirer of the filmmaker Anurag, but if the above is a sincere portrayal of things as they stand, my sympathies lie with you in their entirety. All twelve of the directors selected being male does not prove anything in itself; it could be a mere coincidence – not very unlikely statistically, given that the gender ratio when it comes to filmmaking in our country is definitely skewed. But deciding to reshoot a scene without you being present sounds atrocious. At the core of it, it’s testimony to an utter lack of respect for a fellow artist. A pat on your back for walking out of it.

  9. Not sure why would some moron put a comment under my name. i have got nothing to do with the films or the project.

  10. thedailytamasha

    Clarification: Two horribly-worded comments above (comment no. 4 and 5 from top) are not by Somen Mishra and me. Some anonymous, psychotic, vella guy is trying to dilute the debate by his impersonations. (I am sure the blog admin can easily check the comments have come from a single IP address, most probably located outside of Mumbai.)

    – Varun Grover

  11. Anurag Kashyap

    Hey Kamayani,
    This is a rude surprise. Looks like I have become the system I have fought against. But let’s get to facts. My job was to choose filmmakers which I did. My job was to provide a seed for the story which I did. My idea of collab feature was not my own but borrowed from other such projects that have happened across the world. And a collab feature means a single feature made by different people who have not met each other. The idea was an experiment to see what comes out of it and not to curb any kind of dissent. And just this morning I was told about you not being part of it anymore in the same breath as how good your film was but very individualistic and strong but not coming together with the rest of it and you not wanting to change it. And I believe every one was given the same conditions as you . So definitely it wasn’t a gender bias. I think you are more conscious being a woman than others are of you being one. And no I have never written a mail to you. I just saw your film.
    One more filmmaker had issues with his film and he wrote to me personally where I pulled up people in charge and worked out a solution with them.
    Apologies if you think the whole exercise hurt you but I really think you react too much too soon. Rest let me now confront the team that was doing this with this letter of yours as your side of the story.
    Best regards

    • Dear , Kamayani and Anurag,
      all creative people , ruled by the heart , Sentiment is a powerful tools , like a bullet, Kamayani door is allays small but not the room , please be open, u r a wonderful soul, and don’t forgot you are one of the 12 out of so many of good talented film maker, 12 12 12 .just a platform an opportunity, Dhoka baar baar aate Mauka nahi,
      Ego is a power to challenge self,
      Anurag: she is young se if u can help him , u know , u gone threw so many time, wo jante nahi lohe ko Aaag me jalna padta haikuch ban ne ke liyea,
      soumitra dasgupta

    • “I think you are more conscious being a woman than others are of you being one.” Very well said by Anurag. Though the issue stays to be resolved. We look forward to how it ends. Where is Shilpa?

  12. Anurag Kashyap

    Sorry my reply should have been to Shilpa

  13. Tirthadeep Roy

    Well I really don’t know whether what has been written in the letter has really happened or not, I seriously doubt that it has happened… Commenting further is that I have had a similar rude experience with Shilpa before hand, it think a couple of years back when she had just got back from London after doing her film studies, I was producing a short film to be directed by Shilpa for a script by a writer I had sourced all the way from Israel. All of a sudden Shilpa mails me saying that she is not going to be doing the film and even took the writer to her side and dumped me out of my own project. but the fact remains that she herself was not able to make it and the writer noting on his mistake came back to me and asked if i was interested in producing it again. Guess its just Karma hitting bad at her again or she is just a sore loser.

    • Abhijit Das

      I agree Tirthadeep. I don’t think. I know it… she is a sore loser. You should see the mails she sent me when we asked for changes. Thankfully, the chapter seems to have shut down now. Hopefully. In the meanwhile, let’s forget all of this and enjoy the film… go and see “The Last Act” and let us know what you think.

    • Is this the filmmaker’s way of trying to malign Shilpa, i dont know why you have to speak of something that is not at all related to the current incident unless you want to malign Shilpa’s image in the public and by the way Anurag, how much hand do you have in this above reply by Abhijit Das… off course you will say you don’t even know which again may be true but can you say that anyone close to you don’t know this Abhijit Das… ha that would be quite something i would like to know.

      • Thomas

        It’s not an attempt to malign Shilpa, Rajesh. Rather, it’s an attempt to put things in context. And as for maligning, it’s Shilpa who started it, remember? Or was that ‘righteous indignation’? Thin line between the two, eh?

  14. I don’t know who’s right/wrong here… But here’re my two cents – Once a person puts some money in my cinema, he becomes a part of it. Now when I have already sold my film, I need to honor his/her inputs and at times its better to find a middle ground – Where you take inputs that enhance your story and convince the Finance guy about things you feel might be unnecessary for your film. Accept the fact – If you are getting paid for the job, you need to take inputs from the customer/person who puts in money… And you can’t just ask a person not to use your film after accepting funds (whatever % of funds they released) and get all worked up. Madam, if you really wanted to make a film, that’s 100% Honest with no inputs from anybody, you would’ve made that with your own money… Okay you might feel Anurag Kashyap was the carrot that was there to lure you… but being a smart person you should’ve weighed your options before getting into the competition rather than crying over the spilled milk now… Also, giving this entire discussion a ‘feminist’ touch by putting lines like – to get some free support is highly immature.

  15. Dear Anurag,
    Thank you so much for getting back on this. I really do appreciate it. The only reason I participated in this competition is because of you. There were emails and sms’s sent in your name and maybe what I hold you responsible for was not spelt out for you by the production company. I am surprised you just saw my film today because the publicity around this speaks otherwise. I would have liked to have called you up and had a chat with you when I was thrown out but unfortunately I do not know how to get in touch with you and when the throwing out/changes was asked in your name it isn’t really a comfortable space for dialogue. You are welcome to see this differently as will so many others (the trolls you see on this webpage will tell you)
    I appreciate how the company Showhouse and Large short films has responded by reimbursing me. This is really kind of them. I don’t want to carry this any further but what I brought up are issues that affect all of us as filmmakers and I hope this letter will move us towards the concept of accountability.
    Thank you once again for taking the time to respond, I really do appreciate you opening up a dialogue.

    • vivek

      There was no need to give a feminist/female exploitation angle to all of this – if you are not in touch with the other 11 male directors, how do you know what they are being treated as? There may be a bit of truth but given your use of the feminist angle, you have just diluted the whole thing.

  16. Thank you to all those who believe dialogues like these need to happen in public spaces, this isn’t a private spat, I have no issues with Mr.Kashyap and it would help to debate on the larger issues. As for the trolls yay to freedom of speech!

    • Im so glad that this letter was posted in a public forum.
      Knowing Anurag, i can say that he would invite a discussion.
      not many actors would have bothered to write back in a public forum and address the issue publicly. Kudos to you for that Anurag.
      I firmly believe that to address an issue, you need to undress it.

      About Anurag’s films… i admire his films for the female characters in it. So strongly etched. And always the protagonist, even if the title role is of a man. Since i think Cinema is one’s dreams on reel, my gut feeling says that he wouldn’t discriminate.
      Though I should share that, this is only my perception. And a film could mean different to different people.

  17. Anurag Kashyap

    Why you reacting now? Why did you not do this before.. That for me is more upsetting. And I have been out of country for last 20 days.. This morning I asked them to show your short in its form for when all shorts in unedited form go on tv.. And apparently you banged the phone on abhijeet and asked him not to call again..

  18. Now I want to see how many people will ‘pimp’ this response and ‘publish’ the issue as being sorted out by Anurag.

    Let me see.

  19. Seema Kurup

    you have done just the right thing by speaking out. admire your courage…

  20. Robert

    *Yawn*…Watching the trailer of Dabanng 2…

  21. Nice to hear the poor girl got paid.
    But money doesn’t matter…what really hurts a creative person is to see her work tortured and beaten out of shape. It is no wonder Shilpa got pissed because of this manhandling of her film….. done without her consent by the production guys(she came to know about the re shooting from the actor in the film)…no one bothered to inform the director of the movie…what a shame!…even when she was informed…she was given mere 3 days to re shoot the 7 scenes without being paid anything. It was clear the production guys did not want her.They even sent an email claiming that he film was rejected…with the sole intention of harassing her.
    i think she should file a case for compensation.
    And this brings me to the conclusion that though Anurag Kashyap is a nice fellow( maybe he was not privy to all that was happening)…the people who work for him are a bunch of morons …. and heading that list is a certain mister Varun Gobar.

  22. varun gobar may have nothing to do with this controversy…but the fact is a fact…he still remains a moron and chamcha no. 1 of anurag kashyap.

  23. Serena

    Shilpa Munikempanna: While I do generally agree with some of what you say, I’m afraid it still reads as a well-timed, sly sleight-of-hand wherein personal intractability (in what is plainly a ‘collaborative’ enterprise) and the resultant falling out seem rather conveniently blamed on old (but undeniably still very relevant) punching bags: i.e. the perpetuation of an exploitative system/practices of filmmaking along with an endless harping on womanhood = victimhood. Creative differences and fall outs are one thing. But misplaced slanderous rants on public forums prior to any basic fact-checking. Anyway, just a thought.
    As for the parallel drawn with H&N’s systems and ruptures in transnational capitalism, I’m afraid you might be overestimating your importance.

  24. Anurag Kashyap

    you did not reply to me , why did you write the letter now, why not a month back when you opted out. and why post this open letter just after you recieved the money and pretend the blog got you the money.
    i read the contract you signed. they were not obliged to do anything you expected them to do. it was a collabfeature and not your individual short film. i really think what someone said above is right. you are a sore loser. you got all idealistic and all and now you are reacting only for the sole reason, that its turned out good and is getting a theatrical release. and your whole gender bias accusation is actually “reverse gender bias”.
    well the experiment actually worked and do see ‘the last act” if you get a chance to see it. and sad that you could not be part of it because you are good. and its just your attitude and not your gender thats keeping you away from what you want to achieve.
    rest i would just like to say Kamayani. you have been had and thanks for the free publicity for the film.

  25. Anurag Kashyap

    And just FYI.. another thing that i was not aware of , that she wrote this open letter and was threatening the production house that she will publish it if she wasn’t paid and just to avoid any negativity they paid her before this blog came out. proof of which is attached as she forwarded her mail that she wrote to all newspapers.
    Now knowing everything and having seen ample proof, i think i have made my stand clear. if need be we can also send you the copy of the contract she signed.Hope you also publish the reply from the production house that handled the project and i do not wish to engage on this issue anymore

    • Hi Anurag, there is no proof attached, please do send me at [email protected] and i will publish the reply of production house as well, meanwhile, shilpa did not approach this issue of first time, yesterday, as accsued of the timing and the proof will be uploaded soon, regards’

  26. Watzinaname

    I feel sad for folks who have made Anurag Kashyap God – he isn’t and like everyone else he is just a pompous wanker who thinks he is the cutting edge of cinema. Soon his fakeness will show in the movies and he will be just another twit who is a poseur. He will surely be “discovered”

  27. […] An Open Letter to Anurag Kashyap and his 12.12.12 project. #mustshare ( […]

  28. Anurag Kashyap

    Why have you not posted my reply.. The long one with proof or is the moderator also working to prove themselves worries.. Will use another blog

  29. As stated in her blog, Shilpa has said that she posted the blog at 10.40am and she got paid at 12.30 (noon). Attached is the letter from her lawyers who categorically state that no action will be taken if the payment is made by 12 noon. But much before that she decided to send out the letter and malign Anurag Kashyap.

    Letter from the lawyer:
    by tomorrow 12. P.m. (after noon) upon receipt of the same we agree that we will not
    press any legal action you or the Company. In the event you fail to respond to the e-mail
    / letter and pay the agreed amount within the stipulated time we will be compelled to
    pursue our legal remedies.

  30. And I write this mail with great trepidation knowing that this is “open dissent” against the “sorority”, since I also happen to be a woman.

    I met Anurag a month ago for an unrelated project. He was extremely courteous and warm. Brought up the topic of remunerations himself. Spent a lot of time explaining TO ME that working for free encourages people to build a system where exploitation becomes the norms.

    He called up his finance person, directing them to work out a contract, pay me a signing amount, and all the expenses I had incurred on the project. The Executive Producer, who happened to be a woman, called me, and then called me again, since I had missed her call.

    Two follows-ups later, this is the fastest a project has moved for me in terms of payments in an industry where people borrow their style from Houdini.

    To assume that you were the only one of your sex to be chosen from 600 applicants to make up the ratio of 1:12, and then later dropped from the process to make it an All-Boys-Club is at best fantastic, and at worst a little paranoid.

    Nobody’s film should be “tortured” into shape, but if it is a part of a larger whole, it undeniably would require pruning and evolving. In a film where there are eleven other directors involved, if you overcapitalise the “A” in Artist, you do risk getting “weeded” out, simply to keep the project moving.

    And that has nothing to do with gender.

    Your assumption that all this is a result of the system that works towards denying the woman a voice, and keep her in her state of immanence, while the male appropriates the system for himself reeks of misdirected activism.

    What really rankles me is the hijacking of the platform of Gender Discrimination. It is a serious issue. Crying wolf dilutes it completely, and does major disservice to the actual cause. There are a lot of us who fight that fight every single day at work. Throwing the garb of Gender Discrimination over something which could simply just be Creative difference is juvenile and unintentionally sinister.

  31. Angsty is a much abused all encompassing term, almost equivalent to Paris Hilton’s “It’s Hot”. So it was a genuine query in the spirit of academic curiosity, sorry if I offended you. I would like to be posh though. Police celebratory? Now there you descend into hyperbole again.

  32. NB

    Anurag Kashyap has been exploiting newcomers in the name of “contests” for a long time. The modus operandi is that they invite new & upcoming screenplay writers to submit their ideas to them for little or no compensation. I would say he’s a worthless piece of crap.

  33. […] Unfortunately her part did not make it to the final film. Her experience came to light via The Open Letter on her blog which was addressed to Mr.Anurag Kashyap […]

  34. […] An Open Letter to Anurag Kashyap and his 12.12.12 project. #mustshare ( […]

  35. way to go dear … now-a-days, we have so many soul-less filmmakers, that’s why we’ve all sort of bullshit cinema coming up… that’s because, not only have people forgotton ethics, they’ve forgotton to even talk about them… good that you spoke up… I hope that you get what’s due to you….

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