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Anurag sees his Dev D as a bridge between the original novel and Sanjay Leela Bhansali's Devdas. "That's why I asked Sanjay Bhansali's assistant Vikram Motwani to write Dev D. Vikram loves Devdas. I connected newspaper stories to the character of Devdas to explore the motivations of today's youth."
One of the major themes in Devdas was miscommunication in a relationship. "In this era of SMS that wouldn't work," explains Anurag. "Today my Dev and Paro are in touch regularly. The miscommunication here is due to the ego. Also alcoholism was a major issue back then. When Guru Dutt's Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam was submitted for the Oscars the academy wrote a letter to Guru Dutt saying a woman who drinks was not a permissible taboo in their culture. Today alcohol isn't such a shocking means of self-destruction in our society. I wanted to shoot my Devdas in a contemporary context. I shot it in Delhi and Punjab where the reckless adrift youth have a lot of money and no sense of responsibility."
Anurag says he wrote the roles of Devdas and Paro for Abhay Deol and debutante Mahi Gill. "Today I'm proud to say Mahi is working extensively in the biggest of films."
Speaking on our market abroad and how it has broadened after Slumdog Millionaire, Anurag says, "Films that show the real heartland in India like Johnny Gaddaar, Manorama 6 Feet Under or my Black Friday never get released overseas. Slumdog Millionaire is the first taste western audiences have had of the real India. That's where filmmakers like Ashutosh Gowarikar and Rakeysh Mehra come in. They shoot big-budget Indian films in the Indian heartland."
"I've mellowed. I'm not angry any more. I guess its age. And I've found a sense of belonging," says Anurag referring to the other debutante actress Kalki in Dev D whom he shares a relationship with. "I'm very happy in my relationship with Kalki. She has brought great stability to my life."
So was she Anurag's muse, like V Shantaram? "No our relationship started after Dev D started. I want her in my life, but not necessarily in all my films." Kalki plays a character derived from Sarat Chandra's Chandramukhi. "Again I'm happy for what Sanjay Bhansali did to Chandramukhi's character in his Devdas. He fleshed her out and much stronger than in the novel."